Just putting him on skis and pushing is probably a bad idea.
January 10, 2013 6:40 AM   Subscribe

So I want to get my son into skiing, but I'm not sure the best method given that he's only 3. Pointers for those who have done it or suggestions that this is ridiculous and just to wait till he's older both welcome.

So my husband and I are both skiers. We love it and want our boys to love it too. The youngest is only 9 months, so he's obviously too young, but our 3.5 year old seems to be at an age to start. We live outside of Boston so we have lots of options for skiing around. Initially we wanted to do several days to a week at a resort and just sign him up for the group lessons they do there, assuming they'd get him skiing just fine (3 years old is the youngest for the lessons, but my son is a big 3.5 year old and one that has always been ahead of the curve with motor skills and whatnot). However, due to a bunch of reasons, it looks like that won't be happening, but I'd still like to get him up on skis this winter if possible. Is trying to do a day trip just a disastrous idea? Do they really need a couple consecutive days to get it and have fun? If he liked it we could possibly do a couple day trips or something so he has a bit more experience with it, but I don't want to do a day trip at all if he's just going to be frustrated the whole day and not get to the fun part.

Secondly, if we were to do it as a day trip, should we try to just teach him ourselves, or should this really be done by someone who has taught this age group before? My general understanding of little kid skiing (both from personal experience and watching them on the slopes) is that you get them to shuffle along, then teach them the snowplow and then off they go down the mountain (or more likely, bunny slope) without really turning at all. I know chair lifts require assistance at this age, but I'm not sure we'd really try that unless he was having a great time and really getting the skiing part on the bunny slope.

Any suggestions or pointers welcome. I will also be willing to hear that this just isn't going to be feasible either because of age or because we'd need several days in a row. Thanks!
posted by katers890 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (35 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I really advocate the kiddo group lesson. A very patient person who knows the best slopes and hills in the area to teach on will take on a slew of little kids.

Pizza! (Wedge/snow plow) French Fries! (Skis in parallel) Really, wait for the lesson.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:43 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Definitely bring him to a group kids' lesson. He'll learn with other little folks at his skill level, and they know all the ins and outs of it. Plus, whatever ski area you take him to will have its own idiosyncrasies, which the instructors will know better than you.
posted by xingcat at 6:57 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

We started our daughter around that age and I think the lesson is the way to go. They take them up the magic carpet and they sort of ski/slide down. If he likes the snow then by all means take him for one day, but he is not going anywhere near a chair lift for a while.
posted by shothotbot at 6:58 AM on January 10, 2013

If you can swing it, you make much much more progress in skiing for several days in a row, than you do with a weekend here or there. I really recommend taking a family vacation, putting the kids in ski school all day, and then seeing how they adapt. but it looks like that's not an option, so I'd start with a long weekend if you can swing it.

Do the group lessons. Parents teaching children leads to tears. Strangers teaching children somehow results in amazing results.

Annecdota- I started skiing at 3, my brother at 3, many other family in the 3-5 range, and one (who's parents are insane) at 2- basically as soon as he could talk. Everyone still skis.
posted by larthegreat at 6:59 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Do the group lessons. Parents teaching children leads to tears. Strangers teaching children somehow results in amazing results.

I could not agree more. My brother and I are both incredibly avid skiers today but I feel 100% certain that would NOT be the case if my dad had tried to teach us on his own. We both got our foundation from group lessons and THEN started taking regular family ski trips. Plus it's really fun to have so many tiny skier friends when you're that age, and my parents loved it because they were free to go off at ski at their own level for awhile before looping back to collect us later in the day.
posted by anderjen at 7:10 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

You just triggered a memory of me age-less-than-four in a snowsuit, mittens on a string, on slippery little red plastic skis strapped to my rubber galoshes shuffling around the bottom of the skihill. Sometimes my dad would take me up the T-bar and down the bunny slope between his knees, his huge skis guiding mine into a snowplow. (Later, there were many weekends of ski school which I basically loathed.)
posted by Jode at 7:20 AM on January 10, 2013

Unless you've done some instruction yourselves, group lessons are probably the best option here.
My two brothers and I all started at 18 months or so at home, then lessons as soon as the ski schools would take us.
Starting them young is the best possible way for them to learn. Good luck!
posted by Kreiger at 7:21 AM on January 10, 2013

I would love love love to do a family vacation, but the 9 month old makes that difficult because he can't ski and we can't swing paying for skiing, hotel, and daycare for him (plus he's never been in daycare and I don't think I want to start that in a random resort daycare), so it is pretty much day trips or nothing (originally my parents were going to come with and we'd share the care for the baby so that everyone took a turn, but they bailed on me).

One issue with the group lessons that I forgot to mention, my boy is shy, particularly around new groups of kids, and will often freak out about us leaving him in a class of people he doesn't know (he would likely warm up fine, but in a day trip, I'm a bit concerned he'd not be able to get over it).
posted by katers890 at 7:28 AM on January 10, 2013

In the group with the other little kids is best because you won't get frustrated and they won't either (get frustrated with you, I mean). We did this with ours but they were older, like four and six. I have to say skiing with them now is one of the very best things, especially as they have a good base knowledge laid down by someone else.

Also, the 'lessons' had as much just rolling around in the snow as anything. This is a plus as it all is associated with fun times. I wouldn't have patience, I don't think, to do that.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:29 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am a ski instructor and I sometimes teach kids this young. Your idea of the progression is about right, but you are probably seriously underestimating how long it takes.

Realistically, at 3.5 your kiddo will mainly spend their first many hours of ski instruction falling over and needing to be picked up. Their speed over the snow will be minimal for a surprisingly long time; and even then it will be much much slower than you are used to. If you are thinking of this outing as a ski trip you will be very bored and annoyed and frustrated by the whole thing.

After a short time on skis (quite possibly half an hour) the kiddo will be too tired to learn much more and will need a break. You will also need a break from all the picking up.

I taught a kid that age recently on an hour's private lesson where we did about 20 minutes, I took their older child for their hour's lesson, then we did another 20 minutes, then that was enough for the day. On a mountain you'd need to intersperse these 20 minute / half hour sessions with a lot of playing in the snow, sitting having a drink, and bathroom breaks made overcomplicated by your kid's snow outfit. Parents I know who take their young kids away often send one parent back to their accommodation with the kids at lunchtime for an afternoon of DVD watching.

This is why people suggest group lessons for kids.

This is also why it works better when you have a whole week.

I have to say that in your case I suggest working on acclimatizing your kids to group situations, waiting until the older one is a little more emotionally mature, and then putting him in ski school. In the meantime, getting him on a bike as much as possible will help develop the kind of leg strength necessary to spend more time standing on the skis and less time sitting on the ground.
posted by emilyw at 7:54 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

I've seen knowledgeable Austrian ski instructors with their own little 3-5yo kids.

First they did it standing directly over their kids, kids skis inbetween their skis, to get the snow-plough happening. Then they migrated to a chest harness with a leash ... essentially allowing the kid to ski about 5-ish meters in front of them.

Seemed to work OK. Little kids tend to learn quick and bounce.
posted by jannw at 7:55 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think lessons are better, but at that age, the most important thing is that you make skiing a fun experience. If you're just going up for a day trip he probably won't learn too much, but it is beneficial to get them out there and associate skiing with a fun activity. I took my nephew up just before he turned 3 and we had a great time doing runs on the bunny slope with him between my legs while I held onto his waist (full disclosure- I've since learned this is supposedly super dangerous because if I were to fall I'd crush his neck or something). He was able to ski the way he wanted- which was fast- but I wasn't having an anxiety attack about him not being able to stop or control his direction. I tried to explain the concept of the pizza wedge but he wasn't that interested. We stopped a lot for hot cocoa and snacks. The next season he was totally psyched to get back on slopes.
posted by shornco at 7:58 AM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

I am not the greatest skier by any account, but I must say that my sons have made much more progress with me vs. the group lessons. The group lessons are fine, but it's good to note that each kid gets only few turns over 45 or 60 min lesson.

If you are willing to spend little bit time and patience on the bunny hill progress can be quite fast. However this is very dependent on kid being ready.

My middle son turned 4 in August and can now ski bunny hill at Blue Hills (just south of Boston) quite well after skiing 4 times (~1 - 1.5 hours each time) this winter. He took few group lessons late last spring, but still had macaroni legs and couldn't really make any turns. Now he is able fully hold himself up and gets the pizza/ french fries concept as well as turning.

As of last night I'm almost comfortable letting him go up and down the bunny hill on his own. However he is not always looking ahead, so I like to be on skis myself just to grab him if necessary. I'm sure that by Feb ski vacation he'll be skiing bigger slopes in Killington.

I taught his older brother is similar fashion and he is pretty good skier now. The progress can be very slow at first, so it's important not to get frustrated and celebrate even smallest progress as well as take breaks often. At the same time I had to push him a little every now and then as he is quite cautious with new things that he hasn't mastered yet. All the sudden things just seem to click and off they go.

I hope that the 4 year old will get quite comfortable this winter and get the 2.5 year old to try skiing at least a little before the end of the winter.

Blue Hills is great place to learn in Boston especially on weekend nights -- there aren't many people and thus no lines and more room to try, fail and succeed.
posted by zeikka at 7:58 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you are going to try to teach him yourself, I highly recommend getting a harness like this because it's very hard to teach from in front of or next to the child. In particular the back leash rather than the gripper handle would seem to be very useful.
posted by Dansaman at 8:05 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Emilyw, that is very helpful. Oddly my kiddo is used to group situations (he goes to daycare every day, has group karate lessons, and group swimming lessons), he's just very slow to warm up to people. I'm ok with the day being very minimal skiing on my part and with it being quite a bit of goofing off in the snow. He actually has been on a bike (balance and then with training wheels) for two years and runs around a lot (we do generally 2 walks a day beyond his normal preschool running about) so he's actually got a lot of leg strength already. He also loves the snow and loves being outside for long periods of time (hence my thought skiing could be good).

Loving the feedback here, keep it coming! I think that in reality, I'm not trying to get him to be able to ski well or anything, just some experience with it and thinking that it is a fun thing so that next year we can work on learning it more with possibly more time and a full family vacation of it.
posted by katers890 at 8:07 AM on January 10, 2013

I agree on the harness until they can hold themselves up -- it's backbreaking to pick them up for the umpteenth time. They are also useful when they learn to ski just a little and are just excited about going downhill -- harness is good catch mechanism. As emilyw mentioned they are not going that fast, so it's pretty easy to catch-up to them if necessary. Grabbing harness works well.

Note: My previous comment above should have said weekday (not weekend) nights.
posted by zeikka at 8:12 AM on January 10, 2013

All the other good advise aside, put your kid in skis on flat ground, let him hold a rope, and pull him along at walking speed as an alternative to pulling him in a wagon. Just make it part of standard family fun. I did this on my hardwood floors with my kids in socks holding on to my hand (no snow where I live), called it "water skiing", and at first they enjoying falling a lot. Soon I could whip 'em around and run across the room, and they'd just roll with it: kids' balance develops really quickly, especially when they think it's a game instead of balance training.
posted by davejay at 8:15 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

I teach skiing at a small resort (sadly, just outside NYC so not near you), mostly to kids. Three and a half is a fine age to start. You want him to associate skiing with having fun, so he'll want to come back.

Lessons are definitely the way to go. Kids make much faster progress, and will develop fewer bad habits, if you let a pro teach them. It's really hard to do it right; I've been doing it for 5 years and it took me at least two to START getting the hang of it. Also, you will get to cheer from the sidelines and take lots of pictures.

If he gets along well with other kids, the best solution is probably a group lesson at a small resort. A big mountain will be crowded and confusing, and the size will be wasted, since he's going to be on the easiest, easiest terrain for at least a couple lessons, and maybe a couple seasons. I'd say at least half of the little kids I teach are happy on 30' of vertical drop for at least three weeks before I take them to a bigger hill.

Also, we "feeder areas" give a much larger proportion of lessons to kids. Teaching kids requires a different skill set than teaching adults does, so you want a place that has experience teaching a lot of kids. And a smaller resort will be cheaper.

Here is what to look for when choosing the mountain. Look for a school that uses magic carpet-type lifts in the learning area. Some still use (ugh!) rope tows, handle tows or even have kids walk up the hill on their first lesson. Walking takes time to learn, and three-year-olds tire out quickly, so you don't want them wasting their energy on that when they could be skiing. Rope tows and handle tows are hard to use unless you know how to ski already, and really don't help anybody associate learning how to ski with having fun.

I would not put him in a lesson any longer than an hour the first time,* and I would also be prepared for him to start losing focus about a half hour in. Some three year olds make it through the hour no problem, but some poop out way sooner. If he does, don't take that as a sign that he didn't have fun. Look for the smiles when he's sliding.

Picking your mountain? I would make sure that the ski school: 1) puts him in a group with kids no older than five, and preferably four and under, and 2) assigns at least two teachers to the group. There is so much kid wrangling required at that age, that having the second teacher can mean the difference between having a group that keeps moving, and skiing, and having fun, versus one that's stopped half the time trying to keep kids together. Call first, and ask questions, and say "nope" if you have any doubts that they will do anything but treat your little skier with all the care and respect he deserves.

Goals/expectations: The main goal is that he associates skiing with having fun. There is at least a 60% chance (complete SWAG there, but in the ball park) that he won't be able to do a pizza, maybe not even with an Edgie Wedgie. Don't sweat it. If, after his first lesson, he can stand up on skis, stomp around a bit, and slide 10-20 feet down the hill to a catching adult without falling over (while smiling or laughing) then he is in the fat part of the curve. It would be nice if he had the physical development of an adult, so he could be on the lift in an hour, but Nature doesn't work that way.

If the teacher bypasses the wedge/pizza and gets the kids turning to stop and slow down, kiss Miss Crabtree and buy her a beer (even better, tip her -- it's perfectly acceptable to tip instructors and it's shocking how little most are paid). Some (not a lot) kids go straight to parallel, only learning the pizza later, when they're more physically capable. Sadly, there are not as many teachers as I would like who are flexible enough to adjust the lesson plan to suit each student's abilities. If you find a teacher he likes, be sure to get a (first and last) name and request them when you make your reservation for the next lesson -- having a familiar teacher helps kids relax and have fun, the continuity helps a lot with progress, and some places give instructors bonuses for requests.

Some areas offer multiple-week packages of rentals/lessons at significant discounts. The trade-off is commitment vs. flexibility. I'd recommend spending this season finding an area/school you and he both like (and establishing that he is, in fact, actually interested in skiing) and then looking at lesson programs for next season.

I've attended the PSIA Children's Academy, and will be getting a certification in teaching snow sports to kids this year, so I can go on forever. Feel free to MeMail me if you have any questions.

*Some resorts, especially bigger ones, have half-day or full-day programs for little guys that break up the skiing with nursery school-like activities. That's fine, too, (and great if Mom and Dad want to get on the hill and rip it up while Junior is in ski school,) but for the first time, I would go with a short lesson just to make sure he likes it. You want him begging you to take him back.
posted by Opposite George at 8:28 AM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

I learned to ski by standing on skis in the backyard while my dad towed me around with a rope. Eventually we moved on to snowplowing down short sledding hills, and finally to real instructor lessons at the bunny slope.

I learned to waterski the same way, but at the beach instead of the backyard.

I'm not sure exactly how old I was in either case, but I must have been small enough that Dad Pulling On Rope was sufficient to get me up and out of the water...
posted by ook at 8:39 AM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

A couple more opinions based on teaching hundreds of kids to ski:

Stomping around in the boots/in the skis/on the flats at home before your first visit: A thousand times YES! Start days before if you want. The more comfortable they are in these horribly heavy, awkward contrivances before they get to their first lesson the more fun they'll get to have actually sliding when they get to the mountain. I wouldn't try coaching stops, but even letting the kid slide a few feet down hill and catching them will help them find their balance.

Harnesses: I don't like them. If your kid can't stop confidently (that is without going into panic mode when they're going too fast) or you don't trust them to have the judgment to not ski into dangerous situations, they are on terrain that is too difficult for them. Be a responsible parent and don't let your kid talk you into taking them somewhere they don't belong. Ditch the harness and teach the kids how to turn up the hill to slow down rather than depending on somebody else to keep them out of danger.

Harnesses, the way most people use them, also encourage the development of the instinctual but bad habit of sitting back. You want to do everything you can to keep kids from sitting back, because sitting back makes it very hard to turn, stop, and control yourself. It generally takes me way more time to turn a previously-harnessed kid into a competent, effective skier, because there is usually a lot of damage to undo.

Edgie Wedgies/tip-tying devices: I use them every single day to get kids feeling what a pizza is like, and to get them to understand how slowing the skis down gets you on top and in control. But, I can only think of fewer than ten students, out of hundreds, of any age, that I have had on an edgie-wedgie for four lessons, maybe one or two for five, and none for more than that. Kids that use them outside of lessons for more than a few sessions develop bad, bad habits, and stop progressing (because the Edgie Wedgie encourages steep opposing edge angles, it makes effective turning with a modern shaped ski very, very difficult.)

If your kid can't pizza, it's okay if the instructor uses an Edgie Wedgie to help encourage the pizza and get them skiing independently down the bunny hill, but the teacher should be checking at least a couple times a lesson to see how the kid's ability to pizza is progressing. Whether or not the kid can make a wedge, they should be being taught how to turn to slow, stop and ski independently, and if they can do all that without a pizza, then you don't really need to rush making a good one.

I also use Edgie Wedgies to keep skis from diverging when kids have a lazy leg or other functional differences (less than 10% of my students,) but once those students find their balance at speed, you usually don't need to keep the tips tied together any more.

Skiing behind the kid holding them: Dangerous, and encourages sitting back. You want to develop the (unnatural) habit of getting forward. This leads us to...

Getting the kid down harder terrain while encouraging good stance and balance habits: I get in front of the kid and ski down the hill backwards, asking them to put their fists in my palms and push me. As the child finds his balance, you can vary the distance between you and him, and coach him to tag/high-five you when it looks like he's sitting back. Turn it into a game of catch-me and now you're coaching turning. Usually after a run or two they're on their own. Obviously you don't want to try this unless you are a confident backwards skier.

Due to liability concerns, a small number of mountains do not allow their instructors to ski backwards. You can get most of the benefits of the skiing-in-front-of-the-kid technique by skiing next to the kid and holding a pole out to the side for them to push against (not grab.) Some mountains teach little guys that way, and some even offer Mommy-and-Me programs where they teach you how to do it with your little grom.

Towing with a pole: Okay on the flats and uphill, but be sure that YOU hold on to the basket (the ouchy end) and let them grab the handle. I don't know how many parents I see towing their kids with the tip of the pole pointing right at Junior's chest. Ouchy.
posted by Opposite George at 9:35 AM on January 10, 2013

Sorry, I just saw your concern about shyness. We see lots of shy kids. If we get them having fun, shyness doesn't matter. A good instructor will be able to balance enthusiasm with reassurance. Failing that, we fall back on the sticker bribe. Stickers work miracles.
posted by Opposite George at 9:40 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

we took our son skiing for the first time when he was 4 or 5 - we put him in a group lesson for the morning, and then he and his dad skied together for awhile after lunch. seemed to be a good mix of experiences for him and he did really well. one day was perfectly nice - could've done more, probably, but it was a fun day trip.

dad is a great skier, mom here not so much, so I stayed in the lodge and took care of the baby. he's a tall, skinny, quiet and kind of cerebral kid, not super competitive/athletic but healthy and loves to run. he shuffled along fine on his own after the morning lesson, and insisted on going up the lift with dad and coming down on his own (again, did great!). we had a lot of fun. :)
posted by hms71 at 11:05 AM on January 10, 2013

Two more thoughts since your update:

Most kids that freak out on being stuck with a class of strangers cheer right up as soon as Mum and Dad are out of view and exciting things start happening. Instructors who regularly handle kids are completely used to shy or crying little ones and know how to distract them.

Some of those kids will start the waterworks right back up again when Mum and Dad come back.

So if you do decide on ski school, don't assume that because he's upset at the start you should hang about to cheer him up; and don't assume if there's tears when you get back that he hated it (ask the instructor!)

Finally: You don't need me to tell you that when kids get tired they get upset. Try to plan your time so that everything you do finishes with something awesome and fun and easy and successful (even if you have to drop the difficulty level back to "snow angels"), and that you stop WELL before the tired and upset part. Don't be tempted to think "this is going great, we should just do a little bit more!". Even if the session ends up being an hour of fantastic fun and five minutes of grumpy tantrum, you risk the kid associating the skiing with the tantrum instead of with the fun stuff.
posted by emilyw at 11:47 AM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another thought: Feed and water your kids frequently. If they're not used to being in high altitude, water will help them stay oxygenated. You burn more calories in the snow, and especially tracking around with skis, etc. Hungry=Cranky. So high calorie meals and snacks. Luckily, hot chocolate is the perfect thing.

If you want your kid to really like skiing, go to a resort for the weekend, do the group lesson, but spend the rest of the day doing snow activities. Sleigh rides, building snowmen, sledding, etc.

Oh! I miss skiing!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:02 PM on January 10, 2013

Seconding emilyw's observation on kid behavior with/without Mommy around. Making yourself lost can work wonders.
posted by Opposite George at 12:19 PM on January 10, 2013

Nine months is not too young to get on the snow with some plastic sticks strapped on. Just get some photos. The fact that I skied 'before I could walk' has become such an important part of my identity, and as an all grown up nine year old facing down a double diamond for the first time, provided the extra bit of confidence and courage to tackle it.
posted by mmdei at 12:37 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

another vote for group lessons - I started them at 3 and I am still (twenty some years later) a decent skier. unlike with snowboarding, which my brother tried to teach me multiple times, and always resulted in tears and fights and refusing to speak to each other for a week or two.
posted by par court at 12:54 PM on January 10, 2013

When I was about five to six years old, my parents decided to take me skiing for the very first time. On the way to the resort, we got side swiped by a truck and forced into a snowbank. That didn't phase me. After I had been put into my skis and placed into a group class, I inadvertently slid away and then fell down. Since it was brand new to me, I had no idea how to pick myself up, and on top of that, it felt like the weather was just abysmal with wind and everything going on, like a nearby snow machine. Needless to say, my cries for help weren't heard and while it probably wasn't very long until someone noticed me, I was pretty much scarred for life with a negative perception of skiing. Attempts later by my parents to get me to enjoy it as a teenager failed flat, despite relatively successful rides down the slope. To this day, the activity resides in a giant "Meh" shaped void in my soul.

In short, even if it's obvious, please make sure that conditions are as nice as possible and your kiddo is super comfortable with everything going on. Cause, yeah, it can have consequences if it isn't! Perhaps, if its possible, look up reviews of classes before hand to learn how things are handled.

p.s. I totally love sledding, though.
posted by Atreides at 2:20 PM on January 10, 2013

Based on the experiences of friends who have taken small kids skiing, I would say a day trip is fine, but you should try to squeeze a few day trips into the season, as close together as possible. That way the kid might make some progress.

And if he isn't experienced with the snow at all, there's a lot of benefit in just playing in it, walking in it, and sledding. So build that in for the parts of the day when he's lost the concentration for skiing. (As the instructors said above, he might only be able to handle a couple of half-hour skiing blocks in the whole day). If you and your husband can trade off kid-wrangling, you'll each get half a day of adult skiing, and half a day of playing in the snow (and recovering with hot chocolate in a cafe or in the car).
posted by lollusc at 3:59 PM on January 10, 2013

My 6.5 year old and 4.5 year old are both skiing with us this year (yay!) What we did was to begin their "training" at home in our driveway, when they were 3. We put the skis on them and let them snowplow down the little hill. Then we'd pull them back up with a broom. Down they'd go again. They'd last 15-30 minutes usually, before they got bored. I couldn't see spending money on tickets when they'd only last that long. We also started them skating when they were 2, which probably helped with the balance. They had the sled skates for a year, then real skates starting at 3.

At 4 we took them to the mountain (small, local, family friendly and inexpensive) and signed them up for a private lesson (an hour). My son needed another lesson to get comfortable, my daughter went right up on the chair lift with us after her first lesson. The instructors were great, worth evey penny. I think next year we will probably sign them up for group lessons too. It'll be fun for them and give my partner and I some time to ski together.

You do have to keep a close eye on them. Both of their cousins started skiing on the hill when they were younger and one of them ended up with a broken leg at 3 (just a weird fall) and the other had a broken collarbone at 6 (older kid plowed into him). Both of those children (now 6 & 9) are amazing on the slopes already and the injuries didn't seem to dampen their spirits at all! My two seem a bit too fearless for my liking, so I stick close by.
posted by Cuke at 5:55 PM on January 10, 2013

My husband claims he learned before he could walk, thanks to skis with velcro taped to the bottom of them. I'd take him on a weekday, and the emphasis should be on getting him comfortable and believing that skiing is fun. If that works, then try a group lesson. If not, wait a bit.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:02 PM on January 10, 2013

Ok, everyone who is suggesting practicing at home... Where would I get the skis and boots for such practice, I wasn't planning on buying anything because they'd just grow out of them too quickly. (also, our snow just all melted, sadness)
posted by katers890 at 5:01 AM on January 11, 2013

I just wanted to chime in and say that I wouldn't worry about shyness for "group" ski lessons. I took some group lessons (as an adult that looked like Bambi on ice...) and it was still a mostly solitary experience because it's not like you can chat all that much going downhill or trying to glide and such. It's just that the instructor teaches multiple people at one time.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:14 AM on January 11, 2013

Some shops do season rentals. I wouldn't buy unless you get an amazing deal since he's still growing. You could also try sliding in socks on polished floors for balance practice, as well as bike riding, or even better, scooter riding. Ice skating is the closest to skiing in terms of balance, but I don't know much about what reasonable expectations are when you take a three-and-a-half-year-old skating for the first time.
posted by Opposite George at 12:42 PM on January 11, 2013

But hey, if you don't do any practice beforehand,don't sweat it. Plenty of kids try skiing with no previous experience with any balance sports, and they do fine.
posted by Opposite George at 12:44 PM on January 11, 2013

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