1. Born at the right time
Your kid must have mastered two major skills before strapping on skis: walking and balancing. Some parents start toddlers as young as two years old. Most ski schools have programs for the diaper set (see: Aspen’s Cubs on Skis for ages 2.5 to 4) geared exclusively toward having fun outside part of the day.
Bonified on-slope instruction can start as young as age 3 (kids must be potty trained). The best age to enroll mini-me in lessons? When she tells you she wants to.
2. Fair weather friends
Who cares if you learned to ski in gale-force winds on blue ice? We’re in a new millennium, and if you want skiing to be the fun reward for your kids that it is for you, time your lessons with the weather forecast. Sun plus ski instructors plus hot chocolate equals happiness.
3. Plan ahead
Some ski schools let you drop gear off the night before the lesson. This is a great option for parents of fidgety preschoolers. Most schools also let you preregister online before the day of the lessons. Do this and they’ll usually reward you with a guaranteed space in class as well as a gear list.
4. Make sure the boot (and goggles and helmet and jacket and mittens) fit
Nothing can spoil a lesson more easily than a helmet-induced headache, pinched feet draped in two or three pair of socks (one pair suffices), or goggles that fall off and fog up. Label your kid’s gear and check that it all fits before you’re in the ski school waiting room.
5. Fill ‘er up
Ever watched a little tike melt down just before lunchtime? The screaming decibels rise proportionately with the plummeting blood sugar. Spare your kids instructors and make sure the day starts off with a complete breakfast.
6. Splurge for privates
The younger the kid the more inclined you should be to book at least a one-hour private lesson. This ensures your child will get undivided attention (helpful if they’re clingy) and also a solid skills foundation.
7. Use peer pressure to your advantage
Nothing inspires a kid more than some friendly competition or the promise of quality time with a friend. Often the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Coordinate with your friends to enroll the kids in the same ski group—after all, aren’t most things better when done with a pal?
8. Gear 101
Properly fitting boots should go on easily over just one pair of ski socks. Tights, long underwear, and ski pant liners should NEVER be stuffed down in the boots. Most ski resorts kids’ group lessons include equipment rentals. This is a great option for two reasons: 1. He’ll most certainly outgrow the gear in a season, so it saves money; 2. If during a lesson the instructor deems the gear not-worthy, it’s easier to swap it out.