How to Teach Kids to Ski
Tips, tricks, and attitude to keep it "all downhill from here"
Teaching kids to ski doesn’t have to be a daunting task. If you’ve long daydreamt about carving up some corduroy side-by-side with you kid, then prepare yourself with a few skiing tips for beginners and watch your kid’s confidence soar.
Before we dive in, remember that a little (okay, a lot) of patience goes a long way when teaching kids to ski. Go in with big goals but reasonable expectations when it comes to meeting them. And praise the small victories—if your kids are walking in boots or carrying their own skis, that’s a win. Before you know it, they’ll be saying, “Race you to the bottom!”
Invest in the Stoke
This is the easy part! Stoke is contagious, so share your excitement about the sport with your kids to gear them up for their first days on the slopes. Show them your ski gear and explain how it works. While they’re fumbling around with oversized skis and a way-too-big helmet, start asking them questions. By doing this, you’re exposing them to essentials and lingo that will come in handy once instruction begins.
Get Geared Up
When you’re teaching kids to downhill ski, the proper ski gear is key for both safety and overall enjoyment. It’s worth investing in kids’ ski clothing that will keep them warm, dry, and comfortable. Remember, safety is paramount. Your child will need a helmet, goggles, and the proper skis and boots. Leave the ski poles behind—kids should learn to balance on skis without relying on poles. You may encounter a bit of fussing and complaining while getting them dressed for the cold, but once they’re outside, kids who are comfy and happy are more likely to succeed.
And consider snacks to be essential gear for success. A few M&Ms or the promise of a hot chocolate break can go a long way. Let your child know that it’s their effort and attitude that will earn the treats. Don’t hold your kids—or their edible rewards—to goals like number of runs skied, skills acquired, or amount of time spent on the slopes.
Get on their Level
French fries and pizza, anyone? No, it’s not lunchtime already. “French fry” and “pizza” are the old standards for how to teach skiing to a child. In the “French fry” position, the skis are positioned parallel to one another, allowing the child to move forward. To shift from this into the “pizza” position (also known as snowplowing), your child slides one ski across the snow without lifting their foot and pushes the heel out. This creates a “pizza” shape that allows them to turn and teaches them the most important skill of all: how to stop while skiing.
Once your kids have mastered the bunny slope and are ready for more ski balance drills, transition to a gentle slope. Position yourself behind them using a hula hoop, a ski pole, or a kids’ ski harness to control their speed.
Eventually, your child will want to experience longer downhill runs. Keep in mind that managing the T-Bar, J-Bar, or chairlift with your kid in tow can be hilariously challenging, so get ready to resort back to your kid’s skill level as you climb the mountain.
Tips & Tricks for Teaching Kids to Ski
- Ski Games: Play downhill skiing games to keep your kid’s spirits high. Red Light, Green Light, or Simon Says can motivate them, while teaching essential skills like how to slow down and how to stop while skiing.
- Introducing Turns: When your child is ready for skiing tips on parallel turns, tell them they can “ski like a snake” or “ski like a ballerina” to make turns. Instruct them to use their arms to mimic what their legs should be doing. When they’re making a “pizza” with their skis, have them make a pizza shape with their arms as well. Find ways to play into your child’s interests, whether it’s animals, sports, or dance.
- Ski Drills: Once you notice your child is comfortable enough to start connecting turns, introduce ski drills for kids like “airplane arms” to promote wider turns and phrases like “spread the butter on the toast” or “jelly on the sandwich” to teach carving skills as they press weight onto their outside ski.
- Ski Carving Drills: Focus on beginner skills that will improve balance and turning capabilities. Changing the size of their pizza, hopping while gliding, and balancing on one ski are all great ways for kids to level up. Have them practice moving from standing tall to a crouching position. This will help increase the complexity of their movements and prep them for using their edges to carve turns.
Know When to Say When
Teaching kids to ski is challenging and fun. Just remember one thing: when they’re tired, it’s no longer fun for them. Now might be the time for that hot chocolate you enticed them with earlier. This is a long-term project. You’ve given them the basic skills they need, and you’ve watched them learn important grown-up skills like perseverance, endurance, and courage. Time to call it a day. Who knows? Maybe your little shredder will turn into a lifelong ski partner!
Click here for more on how to have a good ski day with your kid!
Lauren is a proud weekend warrior, mama-of-two, and a full-time special education teacher of eight years. She resides in Connecticut with her husband, two little wild things, and her four-legged fur-baby. She is the Regional Coordinator of the Northeast for the non-profit Adventure Mamas initiative and is passionate about helping mothers connect, reset and find strength and personal growth through outdoor adventures. You can find her rock climbing, mountain biking, trail running, skiing and snowboarding, or just walking in happy, little, toddler-led circles on a nearby trail.