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I clearly remember the first time we took my son skiing 10-years-ago, like it was yesterday. I had done hours and hours of research about skiing with kids, I’d packed all his favorite snacks and even a thermos full of hot cocoa, and even though I technically knew what I was doing, I was a nervous wreck.
You see, skiing is a pretty big deal in our family, and I was really feeling the pressure to make sure that our son loved skiing from the absolute start. Call me a naive first time mother, but I was determined that we would be a happy little ski family from the very beginning.
Fast forward a decade, and we’ve added 4 more kids to our family all who learned to ski as toddlers. As the years have gone by, I’ve learned quite a bit that I wish someone had reassuringly told me on that first nerve-wracking day as a ski mom.
Here are some of my top tips for parents teaching their kids how to ski (and why Grand Targhee is a perfect place to teach kids to ski):
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1. Skiing is all about having fun.
As soon as skiing stops being fun, it’s time to take a break. Sometimes that means you go inside for some hot cocoa or a treat, and other days that means that you just need to call it quits and pack up and go home before everyone is miserable. Getting your kids to love skiing is a big time investment, but getting them to hate skiing can happen pretty easily.
PRO TIP: Grand Targhee has free s’mores on Fridays from 3:30-4:30, which is the perfect way to end the day with an extra big smile on everyone’s face.
2. Where you ski does matter.
Not all resorts are equally family friendly. Look for a resort that has great kids programs, good learning terrain, and is also easy to get around. For teaching kids to ski, Grand Targhee is one of our absolute favorites, since everything is centrally located and they have so many features that keep all of our kids happy throughout the day.
Grand Targhee’s learning area is one of the most fun that I’ve ever seen, and my kids will wholeheartedly agree. The Kids Fun Zone on the Shoshone lift is packed full of little tree trails and jumps with characters on the trees showing the kids the way to go.
We recently took my nephew skiing at Targhee at age 2. He was a crying mess in the parking lot and the whole way up the chairlift that first run. After one run down Shoshone, we couldn’t get him to stop skiing – even for lunch (he ended up just eating a granola bar on the lift). It was like a switch flipped inside of him, and I guarantee that the Kids Fun Zone at Targhee was responsible for that.
3. Invest in good lessons.
My husband and I are both pretty solid skiers and even worked our way through college teaching ski school as professional ski instructors. We know how to teach our kids how to ski pretty well, but that doesn’t always mean that our kids are willing to listen to us.
We’ve learned that investing in good ski lessons for our kids is so important because more often than not, they really connect with their teachers and listen to everything they say. Not only that, but ski school is a great time for mom and dad to get some one-on-one time on the hill without kids in tow. For us, teaching our kids to ski has been a combination of investing in lessons and then as a family, skiing together to build on the skills the kids have learned in class.
Ski School At Grand Targhee
We’ve put all 5 of our kids in lessons at Grand Targhee and were absolutely blown away by the results. Grand Targhee’s ski school is the best that I’ve ever seen (and our kids have been to LOTS of ski schools through the years). The teachers were thorough, friendly, and were amazing at communicating what they worked on.
We spied on each of our kids during their lessons and were so impressed by what they learned and how the teachers made them feel so good about their progress. My daughter was having some problems with her weight shift and everything we had tried, just left her frustrated. From just out of sight, I watched as her teacher gently helped her correct her problem and then showed her how to use that to ski down her favorite steep trail.
One of our boys is an EXPERT snowplower, and we couldn’t get him to get out of his wedge and into more parallel turns. After a day with his Grand Targhee instructor, he’s skiing significantly faster, and his giant wedge is nowhere in sight.
My oldest decided that he wanted to learn to snowboard, so we put him in a beginner snowboarding lesson. I don’t know how they did it, but by the end of that first day, he was confidently riding BLUE TRAILS! So incredible!!
Even our youngest, at age 2, got in on the ski school action with the sweetest instructor, making him feel like he was so big and grown up just like all of his siblings.
PRO TIP: To help your kids get the most out of ski school, make sure to communicate a lot with the instructors. Before the lesson starts, let the instructor know what you hope your child to learn in the lesson and what their strengths and weaknesses are. At the end of the lesson, take some extra time to really understand what your child learned. Ask where they skied and also what terrain and runs they recommend moving onto next. In addition to the skills that your child learned, ask if there were any key phrases or wording that the instructor used so you can repeat that when you’re skiing as a family. As a mom, it’s easy for me to tell my kid to move their hips forward, but I would never think to tell them to smash bugs in their boots like their teacher did, which were the exact keywords that my child needed to hear!
4. Relax and let the kids lead.
If you want your kids to really soar and show you their best skills, give them a chance to be in charge every now and then. Whether that’s letting them be the leader on a run down the magic carpet and show your their best race car turns, or letting your older child pick their favorite run while the rest of the family follows their lead. This shows your kids that you trust them and will skyrocket their confidence.
With the great variety in terrain at Grand Targhee there are so many opportunities to let your kids take the lead for a while.
PRO TIP: If you’re skiing multiple days, put your kids in ski school the first day or two and reserve the rest of the days for skiing as a family. After some time with an instructor, your kids will be so excited to show you everything they’ve been skiing and you can have confidence that these runs are at the right ability level for them. If you’re not sure if your child will remember where they skied, ask their instructor for suggestions on where to ski.
Where to ski with kids at Grand Targhee
Want to know the best places to ski with your kids at Grand Targhee? We’ve got you covered! We’ve compiled recommendations from ski school instructors, resort staff, and of course, we’ve taken our kids on all of these runs to make sure they get the stamp of approval.
Where to ski at Grand Targhee for beginners
If you’ve got a beginner, the learning area, just north of the main plaza is where you want to head. Here you’ll find the Papoose Conveyor lift and Shoshone lift. Make sure that your child can confidently stop and can do a little bit of turning on the Papoose conveyor before you ever take them up the chairlift. For a beginner lift, Shoshone is actually quite long, so you want to make sure that your child is ready before you head up.
On Shoshone there are a few different trails, but the real gem are the trails through the trees. Follow the signs for the “Kids Fun Zone”, and you’ll be off on a grand adventure weaving in and out of different runs as you twist and turn through the forest. The Kids Fun Zone is designed so that kids work on refining their skills, but don’t even realize that they’re doing it! Kids will love taking runs like “Weasel Way”, “Otter Slide” and skiing through the North Pole!
Note: before you take your child into the kids fun zone, make sure that they’re very solid in their stopping and turning skills and area wearing a helmet. You’ll be skiing through tight trees, and they need to have solid basic skills to avoid them.
Where to ski at Grand Targhee for advanced beginners
If you have an advanced beginner, the best place to ski with them is on the Teton View Traverse. This run takes off from the top of the Dream Catcher lift and has the best views of any in the whole resort. This trail is marked as a green, though it is a more difficult green and is a great transition run for kids who are almost ready to ski blues. If you have kids with different abilities, this run is fantastic for the whole family since several harder blues and blacks are off of the Teton View Traverse, but meet up together farther down the trail.
Where to ski at Grand Targhee for intermediate skiers
Grand Targhee has no shortage of great terrain for intermediate skiers and riders. My kids all agree that Screaming Cheetah is the best blue run in the resort. It’s a long natural halfpipe and kids of all ages will absolutely love skiing all around it with all the ups, downs, and little jumps.
Where to ski at Grand Targhee for advanced skiers
If you have a child who is an advanced skier, you are going to have an absolute blast skiing at Grand Targhee. For some great introductory black diamond terrain, head over to the Blackfoot lift. The terrain is a combination of blues and blacks the you can easily hop between since the area is so wide open. I recommend heading over to Raven Wood for some great advanced terrain, but if it ends up being a little too hard, Williamson Bowl is right beside it and you can always ski over there for some less steep terrain.
Always remember that the most important thing you do while skiing with your kids is to create great memories. Keep things light hearted and fun from your end, and let the terrain at Grand Targhee take over the rest. Happy skiing!