New To Ski

What Age Can Children Learn to Ski? (Much Younger Than You Think)

by Kenny Jarvis | Updated: November 7th, 2022
Children Learn to Ski

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If you love skiing, you’ll also want to share your passion and enjoyment with your children. But if they’re still young, it can be difficult to judge at what age children can learn to ski.

Children can learn how to ski as soon as they start walking. So if you’re planning to ski with your children as they grow up, it’s a great idea to teach them early. 3-4 years and up is ideal for most kids & Most ski schools will admit children from age 3.

How Young Is Too Young?

kids from skiing

If you think about it, it’s never too early or late to start skiing. It’s really just a matter of your expectations and goals. Children can visit ski resorts no matter how young they are. Many resorts offer excellent daycare services, where children as young as three can enjoy free time in the snow. What’s more, they’ll even be accompanied by a qualified ski instructor, which makes it even better.

Advice: However, it’s worth noting that skiing isn’t recommended for children under three. This is because it’s too physically demanding and they haven’t yet developed the necessary motor skills. Additionally, for your children to attend ski lessons, they need to be potty trained first.

Skiing for Different Age Groups

kids helmet

Now we’ve established what age children can learn to ski, let’s look at skiing for different age groups in more detail. What age should you consider allowing your children on ski slopes? There is no hard and fast answer to the question since other factors come into play.

Parents who usually go skiing or snowboarding are more likely to introduce their children to try skiing at a younger age. When you choose to go skiing can also be affected by the weather. February and March are warmer months, so they are more comfortable for youngsters to ski in.

Skiing for 3-4 Year Olds

4 Year Old kid skiing
Photo by yo & licensed under CC BY 2.0

Generally, children in this age range will be able to cope with and enjoy their first ski experience. However, it’s still important to assess your child’s capabilities. It comes down to you making the call to find out if they’re ready for ski lessons.

Top Tip: It’s a huge advantage for your child if they have attended preschool or kindergarten. It will be easier for them to learn skiing together with other children of the same age.

In some cases, parents successfully take their younger children to the slopes under their own supervision. However, independent skiing does require more maturity and the development of the child’s muscles and nervous system. 

The First Lessons

At the outset, skiing is introduced to the kids, as a fun and playful activity. Your children will soon start familiarizing themselves with the ski equipment.

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However, the first few hours can be overwhelming and instructors need to first teach the kids how to slide on flat snow. Progressively the children should start practicing a wedge.

Mastering the wedge is one of the first hurdles to conquer since the technique allows your child to break. It also lets them experience a sense of control for the first time. Beginner lessons rarely go beyond three hours because younger children don’t have the stamina for longer periods.

If your child doesn’t have any prior skiing experience, that’s totally fine, but it would make sense to book one or two days of ski lessons for them. These first couple of lessons will usually highlight if your child is likely to be an enthusiastic skier.

When the first few days of lessons have been a success, build on the accomplishment by booking some further lessons. Generally, four-year-olds are more mature and can cope better when it comes to the physical demands of learning how to ski.

It’s surprising how the extra months in age do make a lot of difference for your child, the instructor, and yourself. 

Skiing for 5-6 Year Olds

5 6 Year Olds kids skiing

Advice: Children aged five and six have better skills and an improved attention span, which makes them more resilient so they can take ski instructions without having a complete meltdown.

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Often children experience a developmental quantum leap around this age, significantly improving their balance, coordination, and motor skills. For this reason, it’s the best time to practice turns, especially when children already have some basic experience in the snow. The wedge technique is one of the cornerstone techniques to enable your child’s first turns.

kids learning to ski

To successfully make a wedge turn, your child needs to transfer their weight onto the inner edge of their outer ski. Because of the weight shift, the inner edge of the outer ski will cut into the snow initiating the turn. Once they master wedge turns the pace of progress should increase.

Kids will shift from bunny hill to easier beginners’ slope to improve their skills. It’s usually around this time that kids are introduced to using chairlifts, as most resort’s beginner slopes are accessible via ski lifts.

Training lifts in closed-off areas are perfect for children who want to practice ski lift rides without the distraction of many other skiers around.

Skiing for 7+ Years Old

kids skiing (2)

Once kids of this age have some basic skills under their belt is a good time to introduce more new activities, so they can really build their confidence. It’s not unusual after a week of lessons, that your child can advance onto easy blue or intermediate terrain.

Don’t forget your child’s coordination, strength, and stamina will all be still developing at this stage. For more confident youngsters this is a great time to introduce parallel turns and using poles to initiate the turn if they are using them.

Skiing for Teenagers

teenager skiing

Most of the time teens can easily and quickly pick up most sports. Interestingly though, they tend to pick up skiing slower than younger children.

This is often down to them overthinking the instructions and mechanics. So you may sometimes see teenagers struggling on the beginner’s slope, while the little ones are tearing it up. Teenagers get there in the end but sometimes out of frustration they jump straight to more challenging slopes earlier than they should.

If their knowledge of ski basics isn’t solid enough it can hurt their progress in the long run. Of course, there are teens who start skiing, and it all just comes naturally to them. However, this isn’t very common.

If you have enrolled your teen in ski lessons, ensure they’re in with a group of the same level and age. As a teenager, there’s nothing worse than having ski lessons with a group of younger skiers.

They’d definitely want to be with skiers the same age as them. Plus, they’d also prefer having an instructor who allows them to enjoy and have fun.

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Freestyle Skiing and Boarding

Freestyle skiing and boarding are popular among teenagers on the slopes. That means snow parks are the place for hangouts, especially during the holidays.

So if your kids are taking part, make sure they have the necessary skills. Remember, accidents can happen when they become too confident. If they start doing jumps or tricks, make them wear back protection to ensure their safety.

How to Tell if Your Child is Ready to Begin Skiing

kid begin to ski

The first thing you need to do is to consider your child’s temperament. How do they get on with new experiences, and do they get excited over challenges? Or are they easily frustrated? Another thing to discuss is how much skiing you and your family plan to do as your child gets older.

How to Get Your Children Learning to Ski

Before you let your child out into the snow, make sure to have some tryouts at home. Let them practice putting on all their gear, and allow them to walk around wearing their ski boots.

kid ski poles

Additionally, strap on their skis, then have your child slide around. This allows them to get used to the feeling of skiing. These are all small steps that build confidence and make you feel at home with the equipment and clothing. Once they get familiar with how things are, teaching them how to ski in the snow will be easier.

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Remember, skiing is about enjoying and having fun, so your child should have as much fun as you. That means there’s no need to stress too much about technique and progress. As long as they know the proper way of skiing, as well as the safety measures, it’s all good. And with encouragement, your children will get the hang of skiing in no time.

What Ski Lessons are Available for Children?

Taking ski lessons is ideal for children to learn skiing properly. It will enable them to ski safer while on the pistes since they will understand how to avoid injuries and accidents. That’s why a few days of ski lessons each year are an excellent investment for your kid’s progress.

Generally, first-time skiers need two to three lessons before they head out to ski independently. Children learn at different paces, so ski schools and resorts judge their learning based on skills.

kids skiing

Both ski schools and resorts offer private and group lessons for children. Of course, private lessons are more expensive than group lessons, but you do get more individual attention.

Ski schools have different age requirements for children. Most require children to be at least three years of age to start a ski program.

Some resorts accept two or two-and-a-half-year-old children in hybrid ski and play programs. All-day lessons are the most beneficial ski lessons, and these aren’t too demanding when the activities include play and ski lessons.

Ski schools begin teaching children at ages four to five since these are good ages to start. Some resorts also offer one-day ski trial lessons.

FAQs


What is the Best Age to Start Skiing?

Most say that children can ski as soon as they can walk. However, a child won’t be able to do much when they are as young as one or two years. If they start around these ages, they will have slow progress, so it’s best to wait until age three.

Also, consider the fact that not all children are ready to ski at the same time. Your child’s personality is one of the deciding factors when skiing. It’s good to give your children a little challenge, but pushing them too much can backfire. Tread carefully if you want your children to be lifelong skiers.

Can a 2-Year-Old Ski?

As mentioned earlier, children can start learning how to ski as soon as they can walk, so yes, it’s possible but difficult. Some children start at 18 months old, and most of them can ski beginner’s terrain independently by age two, but kids like this are quite rare.

new skier

However, most ski schools teach children at age three. That’s because instructors can train the children to ski independently on the beginner slope within a few days.

Is it Easier for Toddlers to Ski or Snowboard?

Skiing is generally easier than snowboarding, regardless of age. That’s why it’s best for children to learn skiing first to gain confidence in the snow before snowboarding.

Although skiing is easier to learn, mastering it is more challenging. While for snowboarding, it’s harder to learn but easier to perfect.

Can You Take Baby Skiing?

snow tube lift
Photo by Dion Hinchcliffe licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Nothing is stopping you from going on a ski vacation with babies or toddlers. Even if they’re not yet allowed to ski, they can enjoy playing in the snow and the fresh mountain air. Certain ski resorts are more suited for skiing with kids and babies, so check out the facilities before you book.

What Can Toddlers Do in Ski Resorts?

Ski resorts offer different activities for children of all ages. Plus, there are weekly lesson programs for toddlers.

Often resorts have indoor play areas, snowcat rides, tubing, ice rinks, live music, bonfires, and even alpine coasters. While some ski resorts have recreational centers for swimming, tennis, climbing, and more.

kids on ski

How Many Ski Lessons Does a Child Need?

Key Takeaway: Generally, children need two to three ski lessons before they can ski on their own (with adult supervision, of course). However, every child learns at a different pace. So, it’s better to judge their learning based on skills rather than a required number of lessons.

Before a child starts skiing on their own, they need to learn a few specific skills. These include stopping on a slope on their own, reliably turning in both directions, and getting on and off the chairlift. Also, they should be able to ski green runs (beginner terrain).

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NewToSki.com is where over 1 million people a year come to learn more about skiing. I share everything I wish someone had told me when I was learning to ski. My name is Simon & I've been skiing since 2005. This winter, our family is taking a 3-month camper ski trip across the Alps. If you enjoy our articles, please join the free email club. We'd love to have you.
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