February 15, 2013
Kids: Get Help When You Need It
At some point in your quest to turn your kids into skiers, no matter how much you love to do everything yourself, chances are you'll find yourself stuck or running out of steam or just fantasizing about going off on your own to make some adult-sized turns. In other words, you'll reach the point, whether you realize it or not, where you need some help.
Parents of all stripes tend to resist out-sourcing anything related to the care of their children until they have no choice, at which point they find themselves wondering what the heck took them so long. This can be just as true of skiing—and ski school—as anything else, so let me encourage you right now to be open to seeking professional instruction whenever the need arises.
Both my kids made their critical off-the-leash breakthroughs not with me but with ski area instructors. The instructors were outstanding teachers with a lot of experience working with tiny skiers, and in both cases they were able to do something I couldn't: shift the skiing paradigm away from a continuous connection to daddy.
To be sure, the quality of ski instructors and ski school programs varies, and this is especially true when it comes to working with small children. You want ski school to be a positive experience for your child. So, if you've decided that now is the time, how can you be sure you're getting your money's worth?
Simple: look for programs where lots of kids the same age as your child are successfully skiing with instructors on the actual mountain. Beware programs where all the kids seem to remain floundering in chicken coops at the bottom of the hill, or stuck on only one tiny ultra-gentle pitch. If lots of instructors are leads lots of little trains of tots all over the ski area, you've likely found a great ski program for kids.
Finally, if you do become fond of putting your kids in ski school, make sure it remains a supplement to skiing with your child, and not a replacement. Make a point to schedule/reserve time together on the hill when your kids have the energy. Kids love to show you what they've learned—and you'll love it too.