If you’re looking for a fun way to get out with your family during the winter, skiing may have crossed your mind once or twice. Perhaps you’re already an avid skier hoping to get your kids involved. Or maybe you’re looking to invest in lessons for the whole family. Whatever the case may be, it’s natural to wonder when your kids can start skiing. The short answer is that it mostly depends on your eagerness to get your kid on some skis as well as your child’s age, athletic ability, and love for the sport.
Skiing Equipment for Kids
The equipment children need for skiing is very similar to what adults need. If you’re sending your little ones out onto the slopes, make sure they’ve got the following:
- Neck gaiter
- Winter coat
- Warm layers
- Mittens or gloves
- Wool socks
- Snow pants
- Ski boots
- Skis (yes, they make skis for toddlers)
Children who are beginner skiers do not need poles. They’re more likely to get in the way of your kid’s learning than they are to help. Older children who are more advanced skiers may use poles.
What Age is Best to Start Skiing?
There really is no “best” age to start skiing. It’s a sport for everyone, and when you start doesn’t matter – all that matters is that you do start.
Regarding children, the earlier you can get them on a set of skis, the better. Starting your kids off skiing while they’re young will build muscle memory, meaning their progress will be much faster as they get older. If your child is a bit older or even a teenager, consider signing them up for lessons now. After all, it’s never too late to learn!
When Can My Kid Start Skiing?
When your kid can start skiing depends on both you and your child. Parents who are avid skiers and want their kids to ski right away will set them up on a pair of skis as early as the age of two. Keep in mind that most ski hills won’t give lessons to any kids that are younger than three.
If your kid is a toddler and you’re not sure if they can start skiing yet, a good rule of thumb is that they must at least be able to stand on their own and walk reasonably well. Some people wait for kids to be able to walk confidently and jump, but many children do just fine with less ability than that.
Skiing for Kids: What to Expect
Of course, how old your child is when they start skiing greatly affects what your kid is going to learn and how quickly they’ll improve. Here’s what you can expect if your child starts skiing at a certain age. Keep in mind that age is only one piece of the puzzle. A child’s athletic ability will also impact how well they learn to ski.
Ages 1 to 3
If your kids start skiing as toddlers, don’t expect them to be cruising down the big hill any time soon. Still, this is a good age to start your kids out if you want them to feel more comfortable skiing as they age. They’ll likely spend most of their time on the bunny hill, but as they get older, you’ll see these kids’ skills improving quickly.
Ages 4 to 5
Kids who start skiing between the ages of four and five are quite a mixed bag. They’re older, so they are more likely to be scared of the hill, and their muscles might not be used to some of the movements that skiing requires. It’s still a young enough age where the kids who do get it will see fast growth. You can also expect children of this age to pick up skiing faster.
Ages 6 to 8
Kids between the ages of six and eight should pick up skiing skills more quickly than younger kids. However, these kids are older, so they might have difficulty adapting their bodies to skiing. The plus side of learning at this age is that children can understand more complex explanations, so they’ll understand what they have to do better. It’s just a matter of doing it!
Any child who is nine or older will learn skiing at a similar pace to an adult. They can clearly understand the bodily movements necessary for skiing and should be able to pick up the skills relatively quickly. For older children, athletic ability matters more than their age. It’s also an age where a kid may decide whether they do or do not likely skiing.
Tips for Skiing with Children
If you’re hitting the mountain with your kids for the first time, you’ve got to come prepared. Here are some tips for going skiing with young children.
- Bring Snacks. Skiing is an active sport. Even if you don’t sweat, you’re constantly moving your body, which means you get hungry. Pack some snacks that you and the kids can have during breaks or when the day is over. If you’re staying for more than a half day, bring food for lunch too.
- Take Breaks. If you’re used to skiing all morning without any breaks, going with your kids will mean changing that schedule. Younger children need breaks more often so they can warm up, use the bathroom, and, of course, have some hot cocoa!
- Lessons! Signing your children up for ski lessons is the best way to ensure they stay safe on the mountain and learn how to ski the correct way.
- Have Fun. While skiing on its own can be fun, add some excitement if you’re going with your kids! Play games on the chairlift and try out new trails to keep them entertained all day long.
- Plan Ahead. If you’re visiting a new mountain with your kids, make sure you plan ahead by taking a look at the ski area’s map. Look for parking and lodge locations. Try to learn some of the trails, too. That way, you avoid accidentally going down any black diamonds.
- Pack Extra Layers. Even though the day sometimes seems warm, it’s always better to pack extra layers just in case. Everyone responds differently to the cold, and the last thing you want is a child that’s miserable on the ski hill because they’re not wearing enough warm clothes.
Children’s Ski Schools in New Hampshire
If you’re looking for some family-friendly New Hampshire ski mountains that have great children’s ski programs, we’ve got you covered.
- Dartmouth Skiway is a small, family-friendly mountain that’s home to the Dartmouth College ski teams. It has two mountains, meaning there’s plenty of space for skiers of all abilities. The Dartmouth Skiway also offers weekly youth programs based on age where kids can learn how to ski and make friends at the same time.
- Gunstock Mountain Resort is New Hampshire’s closest major resort to Boston and the only resort to offer breathtaking views of Lake Winnipesaukee. It also has a Children’s Center that provides fun, kid-friendly lessons to children between the ages of 4 and 14.
- Cranmore Mountain Resort is located in the White Mountains and is the perfect place to take your whole family. It has over 56 trails of varying difficulty and even has a snow tubing park. Your kids will love learning to ski with one of Cranmore’s children’s ski programs.
- Pats Peak is one of the best ski mountains in New Hampshire for beginner skiers and has three separate beginner areas. It has some of the longest top-to-bottom beginners runs in the state and is open for day and night skiing. Pats Peak’s kid’s learn-to-ski program offers full and half-day options based on age.