Ray Grass: When should kids start skiing/snowboarding?

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18 2014 7:35 a.m. MST

Parents may know how to ski or snowboard, but relaying those skills in a language and a way children understand can be very difficult, which results in slow progress, bad habits and bad experiences. And, children have a tendency to “tune out’’ parents.

The Professional Ski Instructors of America-American Association of Snowboard Instructors have been working for more than three decades, says Olsen, to better understand how best to teach children.

“Children learn best through play. The challenge instructors face is to make a lesson fun while teaching skills like balance, edging, rotation and pressure," she said. "Put everything in a game-like situation and they will respond.

“Instructors learn the different games and activities and are able to incorporate the necessary skills. We’re constantly attending more clinics to get more ideas, to be more creative in our thinking.’’

The PSIA-AASI, in fact, has introduced a special instructional level called “Child Specialist,’’ that requires special training in child development, teaching steps for children and communication skills.

At Deer Valley, for example, most of the instructors have gone through the specialist schooling.

One thing they learn is children age 3 have an attention span of about one hour. So instructor work one-on-one with the student for an hour on the ski slopes, then move indoors for hot chocolate, games and naps. At age 4, two students work with an instructor for half a day. Between ages 5 and 6 class size increases to four for half a day, and at age 7 and above class size and slope time increases.

Loring recommends parents look into multiple-day programs, “which are very reasonable and more beneficial.’’

All 14 resorts in Utah offer introductory programs for children. For details contact the resort of choice. For contact information visit www.skiutah.com.

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