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If you’re looking at taking a family ski vacation, putting your kids into ski school is one of the first things that you’ll want to look into.
Ski school for kids can cost anywhere from $75/lesson to $800+/day for private instruction. Of course, most parents at this point are thinking “how many days of ski school do kids actually need?” Truthfully, the answer depends on what your goal is for skiing with kids.
If you want your kids to be able to just make basic turns down the beginner hill and know how to ride the chairlift, you’ll probably be fine with 2-3 ski lessons for your child. This is a great way to start off learning to ski for kids and will help you know the basics to get out and ski on your own.
The thing about skiing is that the progression of getting from the beginner hill to skiing a black diamond is actually incredibly complex. You see, unlike other sports, the skills that you learn as a beginning skier are not the same skills that you need to be an expert skier (the difference between wedge turns and stops and parallel movement and hockey stops is massive).
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When I was growing up, we would take a few weeks every year to ski as a family. For the first 3 days of every season, my parents would put me and my siblings into ski school. This went on every year from the time that I was 4 until I was 15. EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.
While I was annoyed by doing ski school every year (especially as a teen), I now see the wisdom in what my parents were doing. In fact, my own kids take several days of ski lessons every year, even though my husband and I are both former ski instructors.
Our general rule of thumb is that at the beginning of the ski season, we sign all of the kids up for ski school. Our oldest is 13-years-old and still takes ski lessons every year! The best option is if you can get your kids into a multi week ski school or do all their lessons back to back. This way, you can make sure that they have the same teacher each week, which really does go a long way in their ski progress.
If you are just going skiing for a week or 2, plan on a minimum of 2 lessons, up to about 4.
Do kids need to go to ski school?
Yes, kids need to go to ski school. Sending kids to ski school is the best way for them to learn to ski properly so that they are safer on the ski hill and so that they don’t injury themselves or others. A few days of ski school every year is one of the best investments that you can make in your childs ski progress.
Do kids need ski lesson every time they ski?
No, kids don’t need ski school every time they ski. Ski school is a great way to learn how to ski and to learn new skills and techniques. However, the best way to really solidify what is learned in ski school is to get out and ski. Although it may seem dreamy to just drop the kids off at ski school every day, and have a parent only ski day, it’s really not necessary (and can cost a small fortune). Skiing with your kids after they finish ski school can be one of the best ways to make sure you get the most bang for your ski school buck.
How many ski lessons does a beginning skier need?
Generally speaking, a first time skier needs at least 2-3 ski lessons before they go out skiing on their own (with an adult). Although every kid learns at a different pace, it can often be easier to judge their learning based on skills than a set number of lessons. Before a child should be skiing on their own they need to be able to (at a minimum): stop on their own on a slope, turn both directions reliably, get on and off the chairlift, and be able to ski green circle (beginner terrain) runs on their own. Beginner ski lessons help kids to learn these important skills. Unless you have a large amount of patience and some experience teaching skiing, putting kids in ski school can often be the best option for parents.
Should I put my child in private ski lessons or in a group lesson?
If you have a child who is just starting out, I highly recommend a group ski lesson for children instead of a private ski lesson. The skills that are taught on the first few days of beginner ski school will be essentially the same either way.
Private lessons often cost 4x’s as much money as group lessons (or more), so I recommend reserving private lessons for days that your child is really struggling with a group setting, or when there’s a specific skill that they need to learn and need one-on-one attention to master it.
Do older kids learn to ski faster than younger kids?
Up to a point, yes! I’ve found that the sweet spot for kids learning how to ski quickly is around age 7. They often are pretty fearless, yet have much more coordination than younger kids. Teenagers and adults often take longer to learn to ski than grade school children. We wrote all about the best age to teach kids to ski here.
What is the earliest age that kids can go to ski school?
Most ski school programs have some sort of private lesson program that starts around age 2 or 3. However, lessons at this age are not geared towards teaching many skills, but rather at getting kids excited about skiing, and typically last under 2 hours. As a former ski instructor, I recommend skipping those lessons and just taking your kids on the magic carpet on your own if you want them to learn young.
The most beneficial ski lessons are all day lessons. Most ski schools start those lessons at age 4-5, so that’s generally a good age to start.
Kids ski school programs usually end around age 12-13, when kids will need to start taking lessons with adults. Kids programs are usually much cheaper and with instructors trained to specifically work with kids, I highly recommend starting your child in a kids ski program, rather than an adult program.
What equipment do kids need for ski school?
When you send your child to ski school, you typically only need to send them in their ski clothes. This includes wearing base layers, an insulating mid layer, waterproof outerwear, waterproof gloves, ski socks, a neck gator, goggles and some sort of head covering. Helmets are required by nearly all ski schools, and though you can often rent them, most parents prefer to buy them for hygienic reasons. Ski schools almost always have ski and boot rentals available, which can simplify your ski day.
The most important thing you need to do as a parent is to label all of your child’s clothing and equipment with their name. I generally recommend writing their name with a permanent marker on the inside tag of all their ski gear so it doesn’t get lost throughout the day.