whatever they want to do. It doesn’t matter, as long as they are loving it. Group lessons, for as long as you can afford them, and good clothes that the child can manage. Toileting for a kid in snow gear can be a bit of a problem. Also, mittens are easier than gloves, with elastic or strings to save loss, and goggles for sure. A few tasty treats in the pocket, and you’ll have a mini shredder in no time. Our youngest can ski and board, (they all can), but prefers the skis, because she can keep up with dad.
Last year as a 3 year old my youngest hated ski school and was hysterical when we went to drop him off, was killing his holiday as well as the rest of the families so we pulled him out and just played in the snow with him while our other son and daughter took of for the day on the hill.
This year was completely different, he was talking it up for a couple of weeks before hand about how awesome it was going to be and how he was going to snow board with me and my eldest son.
We put him into the Riglets school at Thredbo for 4 full days and on the Friday we all went boarding together, it was awesome.
He absolutely loves boarding and has told us all that when we are at the snow his name is “Little Shredder” not Zachary.
This is a cool thread you’ve started. I’m an instructor at Perisher and Whistler so this is information that myself and all my co-workers always wish we could put out there for parents before they start (for both our sakes lol). So I’m gunna throw this out there for all shred parents in general. You guys rock btw
From every lesson I’ve taught and seen others teaching I can tell you that information is getting very twisted by media and resorts.
Kids can start snowboarding snowboarding from the age of 2 or 3.
Reality says: Yes they can. However, just because some kids have developed early does not mean they all have. On the hill you may see a 3 year old having a great time, but you’re not allowed to ride in the kids learning areas. So you don’t see the majority of them. Many aren’t having such a good time.
Most parents first point of contact is the ticket office. As lovely as these folks are, they don’t teach the lessons, they only know what lessons are available. So naturally when u ask what age is good to start?
Ticket office says: 3 years and up (as per the products on offer).
Reality Says: While I have seen some success stories at 3 or 4, it really depends on the kid.
Are they going to stay excited about it after failing over time and time again (way more than adult lessons) and do they have the strength, concentration and co-ordination to balance on one edge on a slippery surface.
*Note* Kids this age don’t have the ankle strength to flex and balance like we do. They rely on stacking their skeleton over the edge and leaning against the boots to tilt the board (most kids boots are terrible velcro things with no support).
Other Parents say: I taught my 7 or 8 year old myself and now he/she shreds.
Reality says: That’s awesome for that particular kid and parent! But this suits pretty much only one type of parent/kid combo. It’s likely that parent and 7 year old surf or skate together AND the kid is a visual learner. He/she already understands basic board control and is going to “monkey see monkey do” Mum or Dad until they get it.
What I see on my end is a lot of lessons booked from Parents trying to teach their kids but the kid didn’t get it.
That’s fine, you had a go based on other parents results. Makes sense.
However, now when u hand them over for lessons, they are in straight run and crash mode. They will straight run and crash until the cows come home and it’s very hard for us to get them out of that habit. (My partner who runs the kids centre just told me they had a kid who took 4 days to break this habit).
Wow this is a long post lol. Simple conclusion on the next post
Teaching Kids To Shred - Conclusion (From an Instructors perspective)
3-4 year olds: Don’t go for lessons straight away unless you are absolutely sure your kid is very athletic and strong in the lower body and core. If you do go for a lesson. Maybe start with a 1 hour private with a kids instructor and see if they like it. All day lessons workout well sometimes but it’s a rough thing to make your kid do if they are having a bad time. (They may end up hating snowboarding before they actually learn how to do it).
Good alternatives to lessons:
- Simply take your kid to a small hill and hike it with them. Let them straight run it and try to balance (and experiment with whatever they like). This will be fun for them and they will build strength and balance. Take them in for a reward hot chocolate when they are done playing. And there will be no tears, only a growing love for snowboarding.
- Burton Riglet parks are amazing for kids this age if available to you. They have specific instructors who help them through obstacles and they learn their skills in a terrain based way rather than a drill based way like adults (which most 3 year olds will have a lot of trouble with).
5-7 year olds: This is a grey zone between 3-4 year olds and 8+ year olds. Talk to your kids about what they want to do and be realistic about their strength and co-ordination. Some kids at this age are sporty, some are equal to a 3 or 4 year old in ability, even if they don’t look it. How much sport do they really play versus other kids?
8+ year olds: If they are reasonably fit, then at this age they will have all the muscle development they need to learn the same way an adult does. If you intend to get them lessons then don’t worry about practising with them first. Start them from scratch in a lesson and they will learn a lot faster with no weird habits to break or mixed ideas about what they are trying to learn.
One final thought: I mean no disrespect to parents who have self trained their kids with anything I say in here. You guys have done really well and I’m stoked for you. I’m only writing this as a heads up to all parents who may think about doing the same. It’s not an opinion but a fact that this method will not work for all families (I see it every year). Just remember that the instructors that teach your kids are probably a lot more highly trained than you might think. I’ve been studying and training for 7 years as an instructor (and still learning everyday) and that’s not uncommon for instructors in bigger resorts. All kids are different and learn in different ways. Only one type of kid will learn from just following Dad/Mum down the hill and this learning style and confidence to match is not found in most kids.
A good Kids Instructor at the right age can create a snowboarder for life in the first lesson. It’s worth it!
I hope this is helpful. If you ever have any questions about it feel free to message me. And thanks for starting the new generation of groms! You guys rock!
Depends on the individual kid I guess. With skiing, I found they can do it in a basic way from almost any age, but it didn’t really “click” until they were about 6. I think Hotham snowboard school used to require kids to be 8, but recently lowered it to 6. My daughter struggled with it at 6, but she’s super keen for another go now (she’s 10).
Good to hear!
And yeah, kids can definitely learn to ski earlier than snowboard (at least to a independent level).
That’s because they can balance on two flat platforms just like walking. Snowboarding requires balance on one edge which can be adapted to by kids about 8 years and up quite easily because they have the ankle strength to lift their toes to avoid catching edges.
I taught a 3 year old and 5 year old today.
They can still learn, but it takes a lot longer for most kids this age. Thankfully the parents were great and allowed them to stop when they were exhausted, so they stayed stoked on boarding rather than pushing them for too long.