Kids ski school
1 Registration As your child MUST be registered, I suggest you download/snailmail the required registration forms and fill them out BEFORE you leave home! It can get VERY busy at Kids Ski School first thing in the AM, I would strongly suggest you submit the forms the day before (if you can) OR be the first waiting on the doorstep when they open in the morning on Day1.
2 Wee Wee All children MUST be toilet trained... Der!
3 Drop Off Each day try and drop your child off relatively 'early' as it sometimes get very 'HOT' around the Kids Ski School area! Try to be organised (ha!ha!), leave home 'early', be patient, allow PLENTY of time and never rush anything.
4 Private Lessons If you wish to book a Private Lesson (60min) for your child for their VERY first day of skiing, Day1/8:30am (I STRONGLY recommend it, it really helps to give them a head start/confidence on Day1 before they join their group(~4max) at 9:30am), either book it early the day before - if you arrive early enough, OR book it before you leave home. We booked the day we arrived (Late PM), all the instructors had left and there were NO early morning instructors around/available when we turned up next day at 8:30am on Day 1 for the private lesson - Not a good start!
5 Clothes/Gear/Rental Have ALL their gear WELL organised the day BEFORE Day1! This includes extra clothes(if required)/ gloves and rental gear - rental/fitting can take a VERY LONG time if it's a busy AM! Label everything but especially their OWN skis/boots/ helmets, consider 'hidden' labels on their OWN equipment too!
6 Leaving Your Child After you drop your child off - LEAVE! GO AWAY! I know this sounds bad but you MUST! DO NOT hang around or let your child see you until it's pickup time - ESPECIALLY Days 1-3 when they're settling in! I would regularly return and watch/video/photograph/observe several times throughout the day (Day 1-3) but I would NEVER EVER let my daughter know I was there, otherwise there's the risk of her wanting to leave the school. Probably not such an issue Day 5+ after they're comfortable and have settled in well.
7 Detachment Our daughter has the past experience of Creche/Kinder so she is quite sociable and happy to be left at Milo school all day. (9.30-3.30) This may be an issue with some children though.
8 Half Day?/Full Day? Day1 we put our one in a 60min private lesson followed by a half day. In my opinion forget about half days, they're a waste of time and money! By the time you drop them off it's time to pick them up with very little 'skitime' for them! (No not ME - THEM!) Our daughter just wanted to stay on to ski anyway! Remember Day1 for young skiers is mostly inside anyway. (Games/drawing/activities) Also remember you will have to cut short any lessons YOU might be having just to be back to Kids school for 12:00 pickup! (Although Focus should not be on 'you'!)
Days1-2 On Day1~2, they only seem to do about 1hour in AM and 1hr PM on the 'magic carpet'/conveyor lift with the rest of the time spent on indoor activities, I guess to introduce them gradually and not wear them out. So on Day1 they really need the extra PM conveyor skiing otherwise the Half day is a waste! (Hardly a taxing day) As each day past the amount of time (and difficulty) increased and by day 4 they were basically spending the whole day skiing with their teacher (1hour for lunch/+snacktime) and by Day4-5 were ONLY skiing Blue runs. By day7 our daughter is apparently ready to tackle her first Black run!
10 Single Days? Consecutive Days? Days 1/2/3 we only paid for single days (just in case our girl might lose interest) however she was now TOTALLY smitten with skiing and we were quite happy to pay for the following days in one $'hit'(much cheaper)plus the weather was and forecast to be excellent! I could be wrong here, but after we paid for the next 'block' of 6 days, she seemed to be treated 'differently' - as a 'serious' kid ski student rather than just an adhoc childcare service!
11 PreSeason prep. Prior to the ski season (Autumn) we took our daughter up for 2days to walk/play around the kids/beginners area to become familiar with it offseason which helped, although she was now becoming a little apprehensive about the thought of riding the chairlifts which in fact DID become a major issue when on Day 2-3 when she HAD to start using them! The morning of Day3, on the way to ski school, (after using the lifts many times, for the first time the day before with her teacher) her behaviour suddenly changed and she announced that she was now ready to give up her new found love of skiing due to her fear of the chairlifts! She was almost ready to give up when I/teacher spent about 15mins playing mental gymnastics with her on AM of Day3. But she got over that hurdle. ("I love to ski Dad but I just DON'T want to ride the chairs - can you carry me up the hill each time... Yeh Right...) I guess for a 3/4/5yr old the sight/sound/smell of the lift's diesel engine/gearbox the buzzers/bells, the autogates/barriers, the bloody BIG turning bullwheel/moving chairs together can be extremely daunting! Sensory overload!
12 Skiing with Mum/Dad After Day4/5 ski with your child after they finish school for an hour or so. They'll have good fun and really enjoy showing you what they've learnt. But DON'T push them or try to change what they've learn't - just observe, and ski in 'their' areas that they're familiar with - ask an instructor if not sure where!
13 SkiSchool - To Learn or just Childcare? Some parents obviously use Ski School soley as a Childcare provider, for us however our first and ONLY priority in the snow last/this/next year is to get our daughter up and skiing with confidence, so we were happy to cough up the extra $$$ for the occasional extra private lessons before or after school.
14 Patient Parents As other people have mentioned, have patience and don't push your child as it may well backfire with the child never wanting to ski again! Let them learn at THEIR pace not yours, let them have fun - it's the best way for them to learn/enjoy anyway! It's very disturbing to see a red faced parent SCREAMING/berrating their young child on the slopes (the child by now red in face/in tears and lying face down in the snow) because the kid is not up to the parents expectations/ability. So much for an enjoyable holiday for either parent or child!
15 Consistency for better Learning If you pay for single days or put your child in for odd days, be careful as your child will probably get a different instructor each day, which can be a backward step each time! We found it VERY beneficial if your young child can become comfortable/ski with the SAME teacher EVERY day and develop a repoire, rather than the child having to adapt/acquaint themselves with a different/new instructor/style everyday!
16 Rest Days? Obviously each and every child is different, but our 4yr old child has a lot (TOO MUCH!) energy, even after a full days skiing(!) and from now on we will definitely and ONLY be putting her in for FULL consecutive days - weather permitting! She prefers it that way too and AFTER school, skiing with Dad/Mum. (We've just gotta stop feeding her all that Rasberry Cordial!)
Although others hold a different opinion, in OUR experience, our daughter definitely DID NOT need a days rest/break from skiing - in fact she would wake up, get dressed and be ready to go (all by herself) by 6:30am before anybody else had woken -unheard of for our lazy 4yr old daughter at home! Every child is different though...
17 Refunds? For those who don't know, once you pay for the Kids Ski School/Lessons (even a block of 7days) there is NO refund, correct me if I'm wrong though! That's why single days may suit some people, although buying single days everyday does work out very expensive in the long run! Your best bet for a refund will involve a medical certificate, at the very least.
18 Overheating OF COURSE you need to dress your child warmly (in 3 layers) but I would be wary of OVERDRESSING here in Aust. and using '$high-tech' polypropylene thermalwear as underclothes for young children, as we discovered last season our daughter actually overheated in these and always broke out in FULL body heat rashes everytime she wore them, even skiing in -5degrees! Reverted to cotton underwear - much better!
19 Ski School Food Although our daughter never complained, in fact she probably enjoyed it, the food at Kids Ski School is very 'fast foodish' (ie. Chips, Nuggets, etc. and lots of Milo!) so you may like to slip a couple of Mueslibars/ Stringers/ Fruitsticks in their skisuits for an extra snack throughout the day. (Unless it's going to be forgotton and squished in pockets!)
20 Sunblock/Sunglasses/Goggles Apply lots of sunblock before they start each day and the school should top up before going out each day(?) They will need sunglasses and/or on bad weather days goggles.
21 Helmets I believe Helmets for young kiddies are a must, not that YOUR child is actually going to hit anything, but to protect them in the unlikely event of them BEING hit by any high speed/out of control idiots that unfortunately do exist out there on the slopes!
22 Toilet Time We were a little worried about our little one trying to 'hold on' and subsequently having an 'accident' which would be quite disasterous out on the slopes. However to encourage kids to wee just prior to going outside for their next session, the teachers would reward the kids with a cartoon character ink stamp on their wrists after going to the toilet. This was a winner with our daughter!
23 Learning Generally speaking, most kids love to socialise/interact with other kids the same age and whilst doing so, (in most cases) actually learn better in this situation rather than one-on-one with their so called 'expert' parents attempting to teach them (possibly the wrong things too!) In my case our daughter would NOT be suited to me (parent) attempting to teach her skiing (not that I could teach) she would just end up with her own agendas. It just would not work! In ski school they ski with others the same age so they can measure up and match their 'performance' with/against their own peers and not an adults standard - good for motivation and confidence.
Info. I can't remember the details but the brain/learning/development of children under about ~5.5yrs old is completely different to kids 6yrs+ and that's why (they say) they have different learning programs and can't be placed together with older children to learn.
24 Kids vs. Instructors For children under 6yrs, the ratio was about 3-4 kids(max) per instructor, the children all being of a similar age/ability - seemed to work well. (The instructors were really GREAT with the kids!)
25 Achievement Goals/Levels At Hotham Milo Mighty Mites (under 6yrs) there were 5 levels of junior skier. A child must achieve all the goals (~6) at each level before moving onto the next level. (About ~1-2days per level)
Each child wears a very bright plastic card corresponding to the level that they're undertaking (learning goals listed on it) AND small daily (written) report cards which are also worn:
- Teddy Bear Beginners
- Jumping Jelly Beans
- Ellie Elephants
- Junior Joey
- Junior Hotshot
I would assume all the BIG resorts would have a similar learning regime.
26 Weekly Ski 'Race' Every Thursday (Day4) a mock ski race was held (with race bibs) on the kiddies Shalom course with a Photographer insitu. to capture the kids at their best. What a great photo ($20)
It's a pretty short/basic race and there's no winner, but fun for them after all their work.
Remember... all the above are just OUR experience/obsevations (with our 4yr old) and all children will be different (ie. age/ability/stamina/maturity/ etc.) plus the other variable - weather!
I'm NOT a ski professional, I'm just a parent trying to work out what's best! Maybe right or maybe wrong!
27 Don't know whether I should add this but... I seldom tip here in Australia and I would never encourage it, but my daughter's instructor spent 6-8hours a day/7 days with my daughter in group and private lessons and performed a miracle! (4yr old from 'Conveyor' lift to Black runs in 7days and they were like BEST buddies by the weeks end!) I know you already pay BIG$$$ for Kids Ski Lessons (and the rest) at resorts, the lift company takes most and the instructors get peanuts, so we were delighted to pass on a generous tip to my daughters ski instructor for all her help and patience. Although I wouldn't call ourselves affluent, we were/are happy to cough up the BIG$$$ for the first couple of years for our daughter to get a good start to a lifetimes hobby...
The most important thing is BE PATIENT and let your kid/s have FUN - you'll enjoy watching them learn and grow!"