I wasn’t planning on introducing skiing to my child this year. I mean, we are in the middle of a pandemic. The limited access to lodges, lift line social distancing, and mask wearing seemed like barriers I wasn’t ready to hurdle on a first time skiing experience for my kid. After all, he’s only four and has plenty of years to learn. But then the first snow came and he heard my husband and I talking about how we wanted to hit the slopes, and he started asking to go…a lot. After exhaustive research, comparison shopping, and getting a ton of first hand testimonials- I made a plan on how to introduce skiing to my child. For anyone else considering doing the same, here’s how I successfully started my kid skiing near the Seacoast.
Learning skiing younger is just easier. For the main reason that when you fall (and you will a lot), you don’t fall as far and it doesn’t hurt as bad. That said, each child is different and sometimes you have to use your Mommy-gut to know when it’s the right time to introduce something new. I learned this the hard way by forcing swim lessons when my son was very young and not ready. Now we have a kid who is fearful of the water and group lessons. I was afraid ski lessons would be the same. However, his relentless pestering to try skis convinced me it was worth the risk.
Ask for advice
I bugged everyone I knew that was a ski family – including some of our own Seacoast Moms. I asked how their children learned, where they went, lessons or none, and where to get gear. In addition, I also reached out through my instagram to local families and got a ton of really great responses. What’s great is there was consistent advice that I was able to follow. Here’s the best advice I got from the experienced Seacaost ski families that helped my kid start skiing.
Tip #1: Have them Take Lessons
Almost all the people I reached out to told me to invest in a ski lesson from the very start. I was told it gives kids a strong foundation of skills and universal ski vocabulary. The lesson sets up skiing as a learned skill instead of a play day in the snow. It takes pressure off the child-parent relationship to both teach and enjoy the slopes together. While many slopes offer group as well as private lessons, I had my little guy start with a one hour private lesson at King Pine ski area. This gave him a foundation that he can later take to group lessons. Bonus – I got to ski for an hour while he was in his lesson!!
Tip #2: Where to Go
One of the great things about New Hampshire is that there’s an almost endless list of ski resorts to choose from! Always chasing a deal, I personally have skied 15 different local mountains in the last five years. However, I knew when it comes to beginners, not all are created equal. I polled my ski friends, social media, and Seacoast Moms writers, and the consensus was to start with King Pine. I was a little hesitant since this was actually one of the ones I had never skied. However, everyone had encouraging stories of both bringing their kids as well as learning themselves. I wasn’t going to argue – King Pine is the closest major ski hill to my home in Rochester (50-60 min drive) and also one of the more affordable for lessons and lift tickets in the area. Although I’d never skied there, I had a great experience tubing there last year and I knew my son would get comfort from recognizing the location.
Tip #3: Gear
I got really stressed over this one. Do I buy him ski gear? What if he doesn’t like skiing? What if he outgrows it? Do we rent for the season? What if we only go once!? With a limited budget, I didn’t know what to do. In the end, the best financial (and low stress) choice was to rent directly from King Pine. A half day rental of skis and boots for a child five and under is only $11. Plus, it’s super easy- I gave them his height, weight, and shoe size ahead of time and the gear was waiting for me. I plan to get gear this way for the remainder of the season. If I decide to invest more next year, I’ll be taking Seacoast Moms writer Brinn’s advice to find local used gear.
Tip #4: Quit While You’re Ahead
I read some great advice from an experienced Mom-skier and blogger, Brooke Froelich, who said when teaching young children skiing, “to actually pack kids to the car while they beg for MORE SKIING!” I took this literally. After my son’s lesson, we ate our picnic lunch outside, then I let him lead me back to the magic carpet to ski some runs. Even though he was having a great time, I decided it was best to leave while he was happy and feeling accomplished. I knew that as he started to tire, he’d fall down more and get frustrated. With fair warning, we ended the ski day on a high note – a successful run down the bunny slope. Still, he wanted to continue skiing so badly that tears began to flow. It was only with the promise of a thermos of hot chocolate that I was able to coax him back to the car. The next morning, he woke and asked if he could go skiing again. I successfully started my kid skiing! Check out my video showing his first runs!
I could not have had a better experience for my son’s first time on skis. He loved his instructor (thanks Cody for bonding over Transformers with him), and booking with the ski hill was easy and seamless. My plan is to do at least one (and hopefully more) lessons this season for him at King Pine. If things continue to go well, I’d love next season to rent him gear for the winter and go almost weekly.
Skiing is a luxury and also can be a financial burden, but can also be the perfect New Hampshire experience. I’m eternally grateful that my parents helped me learn young, but as a fellow Seacoast Mom shares, you are never too old to learn. Skiing (or snowboarding) is a great way to spend time outside in winter, bonding with your kids, and getting exercise! Reach out if you have questions- that’s how I successfully started my kid skiing near the Seacoast.