Get Schooled on the Mountain

Preparation Equals Chaos Free Kids’ School Experience

Now I don’t know about most people, but for me, just taking a 4- and a 1-year old to the grocery store can be a daunting expedition. So when I was preparing to bring them on their first snow sports vacation I was truly overwhelmed. Used to be my husband and I would throw our gear in the car and go. End of story. But now we had to think about equipment for the 4 year old, daycare for the one year old, keeping them warm, dry and happy and dealing with nap schedules and general crankiness (probably ours more than theirs). I decided that advance preparation was my only weapon in what was sure to be an interesting adventure.

Will Hansen, Director of Sugarbush Resort’s Adventure Learning Center, agreed. He said that one of the best things parents can do to prepare is to log onto the resort’s website in your early planning stages. “Most resorts have ways to make the kids’ ski/snowboard school process smoother and easier. Before you even leave home you can fill out the necessary paperwork to register for ski and snowboard school. We also have a first timers’ area on our site that gives advice about proper clothing, gear, nutrition and hydration.”

We arrived at Sugarbush just after lunch, so the first move we made was to visit the Adventure Learning Center and sign Katie up for school in advance. If we waited until the next morning, I knew it would simply add to the chaos. Next we took her to the rental shop to get her skis and boots. At that time of day we were the only ones in the shop so everyone was helping her and telling her how much fun she’d have. Now we were set for the next day’s chaotic arrival at ski school.

“On the big day, getting there early is key,” says Hansen. “Most schools start at 10 but you can arrive as early as 8:15. The kids can play games and do artwork and you can get an early start to your day on the mountain.” Hansen also notes that the early arrival allows kids to get to know their coach and to feel more comfortable.

“The other really important thing to do is make sure that you’re clear about what your goals are for your kids’ ski/snowboard school experience,” Hansen says. “If you really want your child to advance quickly, you might find that private lessons would give you more bang for your buck.” In addition, he says you should talk to your child and find out what his or her expectations are. “You may need to explain to them that they won’t be going to the top of the mountain on their first day.”

After ski school, many parents want to take their kids out on the slopes and have them show what they’ve learned. Hansen advises that parents should talk to the child’s coach and get a feel for what they’ve achieved and what they can handle. I actually have memories of my mother dragging me up the poma lift on my first day after ski school and me forgetting everything I’d learned on the way down. I took out the lift operator at the bottom – the humiliation lives on to this day.

Needless to say, I was careful to assess where Katie was at when I picked her up. She was, in fact, so tired that we barely made it to the waffle house at the base of the chairlift. I figured rewarding her with a chocolate drowned Belgian waffle while sitting in the snow was teaching her an important lesson about skiing. That, for us, it’s all about family, fun, snow, sunshine and celebrating a great day on the slopes with an après-ski treat.

Four Simple Steps to Chaos Free Kids’ Ski Lessons

1. Make sure your child has appropriate layers with ski/snowboard pants, jacket, layering pieces, gloves, goggles/sunglasses, hand warmers, socks, etc. This seems more daunting than it is; so just stop by your local retailer to get the checklist of what your child will need to have a fun experience on the slopes.

2. Once you arrive at the resort, find the Learning Centers or Ski Schools and sign your child up for lessons.

3. Stop by the rental shop to have your kids fitted for boots, skis or snowboards and a helmet.

4. Take your child to school!

Now, you can enjoy your own free time on the slopes, getting a few runs in before picking your child up from lessons and prepared to listen to your child tell you all about how much fun they had.

Content courtesy of SnowSports Industries America | SIA and

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