Skiing is a great activity for nearly any age! If you’re an avid skier and hope that your child can follow in your footsteps or you’re simply looking for a sport for them to start, you may have several questions. When can or should kids start skiing? What age is most ideal for youth skiing? What are the best ways for them to learn to ski?
Before your child can start skiing, it’s important that they have all of the essentials and equipment designed especially for them! Kids’ skis are a necessity since they are the proper length and style suited for small skiers who are just learning. Kids’ ski jackets, pants, mittens, and other outerwear designed for skiing are also essential. Getting snow in your clothes is never fun and can lead to fussiness or full-on outbursts on the slopes. Not only that but ensuring that your child has quality outerwear and understanding how to dress them for the slopes will also be safer for them and reduce their risk of getting frostbite.
Now let’s take a look at some of the benefits as well as challenges of starting to ski at various ages.
Toddlers (ages 2-3)
Did you know that ski school starts as young as 2.5 years old? If this comes as a surprise to you, it may help to know that your toddler will not be spending all day out on the slopes! Many of these schools and classes teach skiing and then move indoors for some playtime. Some experts claim that age 3 is when children should start learning how to ski, especially if you’re hoping that this will be a sport that they will stick with for years to come.
Keep in mind, however, that the younger a child is, the more likely they will throw a tantrum when they are getting tired or feel uncomfortable. Also consider these questions: does your child still take regular naps? Are they potty trained? How do they act around other kids? These are a few other things to think through if you’re debating on whether or not your child is ready for ski school. If you do think they’re ready, just be prepared to have a much shorter day than you intended.
Young Kids (ages 4-6)
Other experts say that age 5 is the ideal age of when children should learn how to ski. For starters, a child’s hip flexors are not fully developed until around the age of 5. These are the muscles needed in order to snowplow or “pizza.” Around age 5, a child will also be old enough to understand more of the mechanics of what goes into skiing while still being young enough to pick up the sport easily and progress with ease.
Older Kids (ages 7-10)
Children ages 7-10 may still be able to pick up skiing a bit more easily than adults who are learning. Plus, kids are less likely to get seriously injured or feel sore the next day! The most important thing, regardless of age, is that your child is skiing regularly and staying committed to learning.
The older a child is when they start, however, the more likely they are to be hard on themselves or feel frustrated if they’re not getting the hang of things right away. They may also struggle with feeling self-conscious or with comparing themselves to other skiers on the slopes. With that said, older kids may also feel more motivated to continue to practice skiing and progressing their skills, especially if they are skiing with friends or working towards a goal or competition.
Still unsure when the best time is to introduce your child to their first pair of youth skis? Consider some of the following questions:
How often do you and your family go out skiing?
If you live near the mountains and go out more often than not, younger is better! However, if you only go out once or twice per season, it may be worth waiting until your child is a little older.
Do you foresee your child skiing as a regular sport/hobby?
Oftentimes with sports, it’s best to get your child started with it right away. This gives
them (and you) the chance to see if they really enjoy it and if it’s a good fit for them. Put
a little thought into it or do some research to see if skiing is something you are comfortable with having your child participating in for the long haul.
Has your child shown an interest in skiing?
This is definitely something to consider as well! If your 3-year-old is already in love with the snow and intrigued by seeing a pair of skis, maybe it’s time for them to try it out! If your 8-year-old has been skiing but complains every time you’re headed to the slopes, maybe it’s time for them to try something new instead or having them try snowboarding.
There really is not a one-size-fits-all answer to what age your child should start skiing. A lot of it depends on your situation and what works best for your young one. Some kids may learn better in group settings while others might learn better through private youth lessons. Never force your child to be outside when they are getting too tired, cold, or just plain crabby. Be sure you take regular breaks and maybe warm up with a hot cup of cocoa at the lodge!