“When they’re old enough to walk, they’re old enough to ski” – Ancient skiing proverb.
Okay, so that isn’t quite true. There are a whole host of things to consider when looking at what age your child should start learning to ski.
You’ll need to look at everything from what age ski schools will take them to whether you want to test the waters first with introductory sessions in the UK.
The good news is that we’ve got the answers to a lot of those questions. And although we can’t give you a definitive answer for what age should your child start learning – that’s up to you as a parent – we can tell you when its feasible and give you some tips.
At what age go ski schools accept children?
Unfortunately, there’s no universal rule to this. Most kids will begin introductory lessons from age four, some ski schools will take them from age three, while a few others will make kids wait until they’re age five or six.
Kids enrolled in Crystal Childcare in La Plagne and Alpe d’Huez can start learning to ski at just three years old, while Crystal Childcare accommodation in Passo Tonale, Claviere and Les Deux Alpes offer lessons from age four.
What about snowboarding?
Snowboarding is a different ball game altogether, with an average starting age of eight years old and only the odd ski school offering lessons to kids as young as six.
This late start has traditionally been down to equipment availability – a lack of really small boards and boots – and fears that the frequency of landing on wrists when starting out on a board is bad for still-developing bones.
Tammy Esten, founder of the MINT Snowboarding school in Morzine, Avoriaz, Les Gets and Chatel, says this is mostly a myth that built up before kids equipment existed.
“Many people stated kids are not strong enough or sufficiently developed, however this is just untrue. The snowboarding stance is actually a very natural one for young kids and the equipment much more kid friendly than ski equipment.”
Her school has teamed up with snowboard manufacturer Burton, which has started making tiny boards and boots as part of its Mini Shred Revolution, meaning little ones can start shredding from as early as three.
At what age can kids take ski lessons in the UK?
Before shelling out all that money on a holiday, it’s probably a good idea to give the little one a taste for the white stuff beforehand. The easiest way of doing this is to hit up one of the indoor snow centres across the UK.
Snowfactor in Braehead, just outside Glasgow, takes children from age three for ski lessons and age seven for snowboard lessons, with sledging also available from age three.
At the SnowDome in Tamworth, both skiing and snowboarding group lessons begin at age four, while private lessons can be taken from age three. And they offer a Snowplay facility for children to play in the snow and build snowmen.
The Chill Factore in Manchester offers kids lessons from age three and has a festive fun Mini Moose Land for the under fours.
And the Snowzone in Milton Keynes takes kids from age three, with half-hour Sno-play sessions for two-year-olds.
Bonus tips from the experts
Tania Alliod, from the British Association of Snowports Instructors (BASI) and a mother of two boys, knows a thing or two about teaching a child to ski. These are her pearls of wisdom.
On when kids can start to learn…
“As every child is an individual in terms of their physical maturity and mental development, there are no hard and fast rules as to when they can start learning to ski.”
“Many lack the core strength to hold snowploughs until they are age five or six, so this tends to be the optimal age that the majority of ski schools will offer group lessons.”
On what’s important…
“Whats important is that the child has fun and becomes passionate about the sport at this age, so taking the lead from them is probably a good indicator of whether they’re ready to have a go.”
On the best way to take that first trip abroad…
“If you are planning your first family ski holiday with wee ones, then think about sharing that holiday with another family that has children the same age.”
“Book them in for half-day sessions on the first trip. Parents can then take it in turns to collect the kids and play with them in the afternoon if others want to ski on.”
For more information and to keep up to date with our family ski deals as-and-when they happen, find Crystal Ski Holidays on Facebook and Twitter or check out our website. Visit the BASI website for more details on their approved ski schools, or find more details of your nearest indoor ski slope.