Skiing is a wonderful family holiday, something that everyone can participate in. Sharing the love of an amazing sport with the ones you love! The smiles, enjoyment & giggles – heartwarming. However, as with all things family, there are certain elements that can cause meltdowns. Do not be put off – here is my bullet point list of “TOP TIPS” for skiing with kids to help make your family holiday the best!
- Get a session or more at an indoor slope.
For beginners this will help self-confidence – they will have some insider knowledge and a certain amount of ski “know how”.
Even for children who have skied before – they grow so much year on year that a refresher session, or more, will help their co-ordination and muscle memory.
- Book lessons, whatever level your child skis at.
For beginners/less experienced skiers there is no doubt that children (and adults for that matter!!) learn better with an instructor and are more likely to listen to an instructor than their parents (or is that just me!).
More experienced kids are often a little reticent to go to “ski school”, especially if they ski reasonably well. However, the model for lessons has changed a lot over recent years and I tend to find that children really enjoy being able to (perhaps) be a little more adventurous or try new things with an instructor!
It also gives everyone a little space to do their own thing and burn off some energy during the day!
- Find a ski school that will have other English kids in the groups and an instructor with a good level of English, if not a native speaker.
There are plenty to choose from in Val d’Isere. It really helps children’s enjoyment levels if they can communicate properly with their instructor and even have a bit of banter and a joke so finding an instructor with a good level of English, or a native speaker, would be a good tip.
Being able to communicate with the other children in the group would be high up on my list of requirements – I remember feeling a bit lost and lonely in group lessons as a child as not a lot of other British kids skied and I didn’t really have a clue what was going on! Being able to make friends is important.
Remember if kids (or anyone) are enjoying themselves then they will learn.
Do contact me if you are interested in private lessons www.clareangus.co.uk
The following ski schools would be my recommendations if you are looking for fluent English speaking instructors (not necessarily native) and groups that are geared for British tourists. Do note that all these schools have private lesson options. For groups other criteria apply, e.g. age & ability levels as noted.
Mountain Masters Group lessons for children aged 5+, from green run skiers to race academies. There is also a Ski Beyond programme for proficient teenagers looking to ski harder than they might with their parents, includes an element of mountain awareness skills.
The Development Centre Group lessons for children aged 10+ who can already ski parallel on red runs.
Evolution 2 A wide range of group lessons for all ages and abilities. We used these guys for group lessons for our daughter when she was 3 and would highly recommend them.
Progression Group lessons for children from age 4 and from beginner level.
New Generation Group lessons for children from age 4 to teens from beginner level to beyond black runs.
Oxygene A wide range of group lessons from age 3 for all abilities.
- Think about location, location, location
Of your accommodation within resort that is, to make the journey to the slope/lesson meeting point as obstacle & hassle free as possible. In Val d’Isere we have a very efficient, free bus service that runs through town/to the lifts all day every day at 5 minute intervals – this really helps getting around in ski boots and a mountain of other gear. Ski in/ski out isn’t necessarily the best option – you want to look at what run goes past the chalet/hotel and make sure it isn’t a black that you may not want to warm up on in the mornings or finish on with tired legs in the evenings! A number of hotels and chalet operators have driver services, door-to-door convenience wherever you are staying.
- Dressing kids for the slopes
Happy kids, happy parents, happy holidays
– Clothing – layers that can be adjusted accordingly over the day/week. Waterproof everything on the outside.
– One pair of socks, and one pair ONLY.
– Mittens rather than gloves.
– Balaclava rather than neck warmer and definitely no scarves
– Helmet & eye protection – goggles tend to work better with helmets & are more versatile for different weather conditions, but it is personal preference.
– Do salopettes up OVER layers – makes loo trips much easier
– Snacks & hot choc money in pockets
- Take regular breaks during a day on the slopes to keep energy & enthusiasm at a high.
Skiing is tiring, especially for little legs, so it is important to take breaks and refuel. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse for a hot chocolate with all the trimmings – cream, smarties, marshmallows (maybe a nip of something for Mum & Dad!)? See my favourites here.
- Look at activities away from skiing.
Especially for younger children and less experienced skiers. Skiing is hard work physically and it can be better to keep enthusiasm & energy levels up by spending some time doing other activities, especially later in the day.
There are lots of activities to choose from – from ice-skating, swimming and the climbing wall to husky dog rides, parapenting and microlight flights.
Check out Evolution 2 for ideas on some activities.
Have a look at my previous post here on tried & tested family friendly activities that we enjoy doing around town (most of which are free!).
And also make sure you pick up a copy of ValScope from the tourist office, or look at the Val d’Isere website when you arrive to find the programme of events for your week – there are weekly events, such a snakegliss on the nursery slopes, market day and pedestrian nights, as well as less regular & one off events, such as torchlit descents, classicaval & the mountain film festival. I will do a more detailed post on non-skiing activities soon so watch this space.
- Remember it is your holiday too!
Eek some time out of ski lessons by 1) booking with a school that does long morning sessions (Mountain Masters (3.75hrs), New Gen (4.5hrs) & Progression (4hrs)) OR that has a lunch club option (Evolution 2 & Oxygene) where the kids will get taken from their lesson to lunch and you can pick them up later.
Book some childcare! Some tour operators have childcare options or include them in their packages. Alternatively, there are a number of British run private nanny companies in resort. Take a look at The Mountain Nanny, Jelly & Ice-Cream, Little Chicks Childcare.
- Travel with other families/friends
I should preface this with a disclaimer: IF you have like minded friends/family then you might want to think about trying to link up with them. You don’t have to live in each other’s pockets, the mountains are big enough and there are plenty of accommodation options in resort.
For kids having friends around can help with a sense of camaraderie and people to go to ski school with in the mornings and hang out with at any “extra curricula” activities. I find that if the kids have a friend it means more downtime for me too as I am not expected to constantly be joining in their games!
It can also help for sharing ski school drop off/pick up or the costs of lessons (if you choose privates and the kids are the same level) and childcare (if you go down that route.
So, there it is – all the ingredients of a wonderful family holiday!
Let me know if you have any questions or any tips I may have missed…