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teaching kids to snowboard

Tips for teaching young kids to snowboard

June 27th, 2023 Holiday Tips

Tammy Esten, snowboarding instructor and founder of MINT Snowboarding school in Morzine, has been helping kids find their groove on the slopes for over 18 years. We asked her advice as a mother and instructor on getting kids started in snowboarding.

teaching kids to snowboard

Snowboarding with Kids: Q&A with MINT Snowboarding

At what age can you start snowboarding with your child?

We officially start lessons from age 3, but it always depends on the child. Kids this age tend to have the physical development, strength and energy to get started on a snowboard, as well as a certain level of predictability.

Under age 3, I would recommend focusing on playing in the snow, having lots of fun and spending a little bit of time getting the child familiar with the equipment. I put my son on a snowboard at around 18 months, but my expectations were realistic and it was all about having fun and getting him comfortable standing on a board.

Children will change significantly from one winter to the next, so the trick is to be patient and tailor everything to the child’s level of concentration, strength and energy. The first lessons for kids of around 3 years can be anything from 1 hour to 2 hours – again it depends on the child – and we always put little ones in one-on-one private lessons to begin with.

 

I’m a competent snowboarder, can I teach my child to snowboard?

No matter how good of a snowboarder you are, I would not recommend a parent teaching their child to snowboard. Sadly for us parents, kids often just don’t want to listen to us, and will be more focussed and engaged with an instructor. For this reason, even though I am an instructor myself, my son, who is now 4 years old, is being taught by another instructor.

Also instructors come with a great deal of experience and knowledge when it comes to keeping kids safe, learning at the right pace and enjoying the sport. It’s different with parents and caregivers who are often over keen to get kids turning as soon as possible. There is a great deal that we teach children before we even start to turn: sliding, going straight, using edges, little tricks and jumps, changing direction, piste safety and using the lifts usually come first. Most importantly, starting out in snowboarding should be about having fun. My son is in his third winter season and started to turn independently on a board this winter, but because he had learnt all the skills that built up to that, he was quickly linking his turns and flying down the slopes. Kids have to be mentally and physically ready for the next step, and instructors are usually the best judge of that.

 

How can I help my child use the ski lifts safely?

If we’re talking about very young kids, it is best to stick to the magic carpet until they have started using the chair lifts with their instructor. Always follow the lead of the instructor and ask about what your child has been doing in the lesson, the instructor will advise which lifts, slopes and ski areas are appropriate for his/her level (it’s worth noting that all of our instructors speak fluent English). What’s really important is to ensure you do not over-face your child on a slope that is too advanced, it could be unsafe and you risk putting them off (the sport) for life. Stick within the child’s comfort zone and leave it to the instructor to stretch their limits.

 

When can I ride with my child?

You can snowboarding with your child right away, as long as you are sticking to slopes they are capable of (i.e. not taking them out of their comfort zone) and are not over-doing it with them. So for a beginner, they need to stay in the beginners’ area. Again, follow the lead of your instructor and if the child has morning lessons, make sure they don’t get too exhausted in the afternoon. The aim is to stop when the child still wants to do more and put your child to bed feeling happy and excited about the next day.

 

 

Which runs/areas in Morzine Avoriaz are good to practice on with my beginner child?

Morzine and Avoriaz are snowboarder-friendly resorts, with loads of parks and events aimed at riders of all levels, including kids and those new to the sport.

The magic carpet on the Pleney is not too short or long and is great for beginners. There is also the Peguin park, which is fun for kids and loads of blue runs for gaining confidence and cruising. It’s also a bonus that the ski area is easily accessed directly from the town via one lift – the Pléney télécabine.

We also teach little ones in Avoriaz, the beginner area and the Proclou run is great. When kids are a bit more independent they absolutely love the little stash. Once riding more freely, there is so much fun stuff in Avoriaz, the snowpark and the stash are real hits.

 

Any tips for hiring/buying gear for kids?

We recommend hiring snowboarding gear because kids grow so much! My son has had an 80cm and a 90cm already! Getting the right length is really important. The Woods in Morzine are snowboarding experts, and have a good selection of Burton boots and boards. Burton are at the forefront of kids snowboarding equipment.

Ski Mobile also has a selection of kids boards and you can send your requirements in advance of your trip via their booking app. This means your gear is ready and waiting for you when you arrive – in fact they will bring your ski hire to your chalet, and as all parents know, anything that cuts out faff is a big bonus with kids!

 

Do you have any other tips on keeping kids safe and happy on the slopes?

Make time for kids to simply play in the snow – and get involved! Just like when you are at the beach and kids want to make sandcastles and splash in the water, kids want to build snowmen and have a snowball fight.

Remember that putting on unfamiliar snow gear – hats, gloves and clumpy boots – is in itself new and quite tiring for small children, so allow time for this. Be prepared in the morning, find an easy route and allow plenty of time to get to the lesson. Don’t rush and keep a positive vibe. It’s also great to have a favourite snack ready for the end of the lesson – snowboarding is energetic!

Most importantly, the goal is to have fun. Forget any preconceived idea of what your child should be achieving. The aim is to pass on a love for snow sports, and is not about getting the next ski badge, it’s about developing a passion which will last a lifetime. Have fun and we hope to see your little shredders sometime soon!

 

MINT instructors are specialised snowboard specific instructors and qualified to the highest level in the world. Find out more and book your lessons via MINT’s website.

 

If you are looking for a base in Morzine for a fantastic family snowboard or ski holiday, AliKats Mountain Holidays offers catered or self-catered holidays in luxury chalets, with spacious ensuite bedrooms, games rooms, hot tubs, children’s facilities and lifts to the ski slopes. We will help you get your kids to their lessons on time and ensure you have everything you need for a stress-free family holiday!

Al
About the author: Al
After an interesting but ultimately unrewarding 10 years working in banking in London and Geneva, I made the move into full time mountain life and have never looked back. When I am not looking after our 3 energetic and hilarious children, I oversee the commercial and business change side of AliKats. I also helped set up a local environmental charity called Montagne Verte, along with Kat. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn

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