We love to ski and now our kids too. If you're interested in getting your kids started, here are some tips.
1) Sign kids up for classes.
We didn't even try to teach our kids to ski, as both my husband and I are not the super-patient kind. :) To save you and your kids frustration, we recommend putting kids in ski classes. There are a number of good ones around:
The teachers generally have a lot of experience and patience teaching kids. At Blue Hills, they start off the first lesson on a short slightly angled slope, see below, and teach kids how to walk sideways up then come down the slope. They tell kids about making pizza shape with their skis to stop, chopsticks to go forward, etc. I often ask at the end of the class what the teachers recommend kids to work on, and encourage my kids to try that.
When the kids are in classes, it also enables us parents to enjoy skiing. No point to suffer thru the early slow days. :)
After our kids took classes, they often want to show us what they learned, e.g. going on the chair lift or going on their first green (beginner) trail. It's great to see their progress. Also, peer pressure is helpful (same as for other kids activities). While our kids wouldn't try a blue (intermediate) trail with us at first, they did it in a class when other kids tried it.
2) Don't get discouraged if your kids don't like skiing at first.
It's like what they say about trying out new food, it might take a bunch of tries before they get used to it.
The first time my son took classes, around 5, he had to be dragged to the slopes. (I hid somewhere so I could pretend it wasn't my son screaming at the top of his lungs.) We tried again a bit later, and the 2nd or 3rd time, he got the basic idea and started to like it. My daughter, on the other hand, loved skiing from the very start.
3) Affordable ski equipment: resizable boots & used skis
Once our kids showed interest in skiing, we got them both resizable boots, so we don't have to switch equipment every year. Those include 5 or 6 sizes in one, and you turn a little knob to expand. And since we have two kids (son and younger daughter), the younger one gets the older one's resizable boots as hand-me-downs. And for kids skis, we get them used for $20-40.
4) Frequency and friends
We recommend going for ski weekends and ski a few times each season, so your kids get used to skiing and have a chance to get better. It's hard to get better skiing once or twice a year. Joining a friend for skiing makes it more fun for you and your kids. The adults can enjoy socializing and the kids, too.
It also helps to find affordable deals so you can ski more often:
5) Troubleshoot challenges
My daughter's short. So even at 7 or 8 now, she has problem getting on the lift. We figured out that if she sits on the outer edge, she can hold on to the armrest for the chairlift. That gives her more confidence to ride the lift. My son like to ski fast, so good to have a nice ski teacher tell him about carving more, as he might not listen to us as much. :)
We found this amazing Ski School series of video that takes you from a beginner to advanced skier. It's short videos of two minutes each that clearly explain the problem and solution as you get better. We watch this together as a family, and talk about what we each can work on.
6) Gradually go to bigger mountains
Our kids learned at Blue Hills, about a half-hour away. There our son's run into his classmates too.
Once they outgrew that, for about a year or two, we skied at Wachusett Mountain, a bigger mountain about an hour away. Then last season we found Ragged Mountain with more varied and challenging terrains. We have taken ski trips with friends and family to bigger mountains, but I wouldn't do that on a regular basis as it's expensive and kids often can't take full advantage of it.
7) They get better fast(er than us)!
Last season when our kids are 10 and 7, they already leave us behind on ungroomed and easy glades. You'll quickly feel proud as a parent! :)
So those are my tips for enjoying skiing with kids. What tips do you have? Write back and let me know. :)