Let's talk about age!

At what age is it appropriate for a child to learn to ski?

And what about snowboarding?

Let's talk about age!

At what age is it appropriate for a child to learn to ski?

And what about snowboarding?

So you're thinking of taking a family trip to a Ski Resort but you're not sure if your child is ready to ski?

Some say that if a child is old enough to walk, they are old enough to ski. To be honest, while this is an amusing saying, I definitely wouldn’t use that as a benchmark!

I have been a parent for just over 18 months and if there is one thing I have a learnt it is that when it comes to timeslines, kids do not play ball.
Like learning to walk, talk, eat solid foods- and almost every other milestone in the early years- children all develop at a different pace. So while one child may be ready to ski at three years old, another may not be ready (emotionally or physcially) until they’re six years old.
You know your kids best and you know what they’re capable of. Trust yourself.

Having said that, don’t be nervous! As anybody who has frequented the slopes will tell you, children take to skiing really quickly and enjoy it too! You’ll see them skiing joyfully with their families or taking ski lessons where they all ski together in a little train. (It’s adorable!) Kids don’t tend to fall very hard either, because their centre of gravity is lower.

So, while kids may develop and mature at different rates there are some guidlelines you can use to determine where your child is at!

In European countries where skiing is a common past-time, people tend to begin teaching their children around the age of four years old. Similarly, most European ski schools will only take a child for lessons at that age or older. Although, a few parents and schools will teach children as young as three.
[As a side note, if you are planning on taking lessons then check with the ski school about any age limitations they may have.]

While these are certainly helpful guidelines- again, please use your discretion. If like me, your child is active, sure-footed and strong, then you may want to try your child on skis at four years old. However, if your child less active and confident on their feet you may want to wait a year or two before enrolling them in a ski school. Not all four year old have the core strength to be able to hold a snow plough at such a young age, after all. 

By my estimate, the best time to teach a child to ski is between four and six years old, depending on the child. I learnt at four years old, and I’m hoping to teach my child to ski quite young… But if I have another, who knows what decision will be best for him or her. I’m going to take my own advise and go with my gut!

What about Snowboarding?

While skiing is one thing, snowoarding is a different story altogether! And there are vastly different opinions on the matter.
Most snowboarding schools in Europe will only start lessons at eight years old, with a very select few taking children in at 6 years old.
It has long been said that the reason for the later start is because beginner boarders tend to fall a lot and there are concerns about wrists that are still developing. However, Tammy Esten, founder of the MINT snowboarding school, says that this is a myth. She claims that the stance and equipment used to board are far more child-friendly than skis.
The real reason children start boarding later is becuase there is a lack of smaller boots and boards on the market. In fact, Esten even teamed up with Mini Shred Revolution to make a range of baording equipment for younger children.
Having said that, I think perhaps the optimum age- from all my reading on the topic- is between six and eight years old and you’ll behard-pressed to find a school that will take children before then!

At the end of the day, I believe what is important is that your child loves their holiday in the snow and is passinate about skiing or snowboarding. Take the lead from them, and your own gut, and you’ll all have an incredible holiday!

And don’t forget that just because your child can’t ski yet, doesn’t mean a winter holiday is out of the question!
You could travel with another family with children of similar ages and take turns looking after the children, or if the children are old enough you could look at putting them in a morning care program. Additionally, most ski resorts have other activites off the slopes- such as kid’s areas, ice-skating, toboganning, ice parks and of course- family snow ball fights!!!

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Let’s talk about age: At what age is it appropriate for a child to learn to ski?

by ssadmin time to read: 3 min
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