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To take my four year old skiing

(26 Posts)
Bedraggledmumoftwo Sat 29-Apr-17 13:55:29

Just want advice really. We currently have a 3yo and 5yo, but are looking to go skiing next Feb half term, when the little one will just have turned four.

We are looking at Andorra which apparently has good English speaking ski schools but are feeling overwhelmed by the uncertainty of whether the kids will like it and are considering just going for three days in case it is a disaster.
Also there is then the question of what to do with the kids- there seem to be snow gardens which purport to introduce skiing through play, and group lessons and private, and I have no idea what is best when they are that small. Unfortunately the season has already ended so I can't ask the resorts directly and would appreciate any advice from anyone who has taken them when they were that small!

PossumInAPearTree Sat 29-Apr-17 14:00:51

Of course not. Dd started at 3yo. She seemed to have fun shuffling about in the snow garden. The instructors are used to aiming lessons at kids that age.

Dd had group lessons through esf but they have their own snow gardens. Guess there won't be an esf in Andorra but there should be similar set ups. I think group lessons will actually be better at that age than private.

Swissgemma Sat 29-Apr-17 14:04:19

Take 4 year olds to any resort! Andorra (Soldeu) has a great school but there's not a lot of off piste stuff. morzine/avoriaza also great for small peeps. We teach group classes from 3... the little kids stay in the now garden. Most kids love it but you can't do long ski days so swimming pools and other off piste stuff is good to fill your time!

Swissgemma Sat 29-Apr-17 14:05:46

Oh I teach with ESS (Swiss). I would always recommend group lessons for kids as they learn much better following the leader!

Elphame Sat 29-Apr-17 14:08:01

Will be fine -mine had their first ski experiences younger than that. We went with a specialist chalet company the first time as DS was only 14 months old and they had nanny care in the actual chalet. As it was all families with small children we didn't disturb anyone else and it was designed for tots with lots of toys and equipment. Expensive but worth it.

The following year he was in ESFs baby classes!

Swissgemma Sat 29-Apr-17 14:08:20

Andorra is a long way for three days - the transfer alone is 3 hours from the airport. There are great snowdomes in the U.K. (Manchester, tamworth, castleford, Hemel Hempstead, Milton Keynes) would be woryh giving the kitties a few lessons there first.

Peppapogstillonaloop Sat 29-Apr-17 14:10:20

My eldest love skiing from the start (age 5) my middle didn't love the first year when he was almost 4 but loves it this year (almost 5)
He didn't hate the first year but didn't really get it iyswim..had fun in the ski garden and the Play bit though. Not too young at all imo and 3 days not long enough to be worth the hassle! We have friends who have done esprit with their kids that age and they massively rate it for the childcare/ski school help their kids had a blast.
One suggestion go a bit later on the season when it's a bit warmer as the kids will feel the cold more and that can be a bit miserable for them.
Enjoy! It's SO great when the kids get and love skiing :0)

FadedRed Sat 29-Apr-17 14:12:49

Have a look at Wengen in Switzerland. Lovely car free village. Nursery slopes and ski kindergarten in the village centre, next to the cable car up to one of the main ski areas. English spoken by pretty well everyone in ski school and shops. Toboggan runs and walking /tobogganing paths and toboggan hire with baby seats.
Train up to higher slopes which is great with littles as they can warm up and most love trains. Very friendly place, even has a little play area at the end of the Main Street.
Not cheap though, but we've found it on par with most place in the French Alps, and you can get self catering which IMO is much easier with children. Two good food shops (Coop and another small supermarket, plus bakery and takeaway.
We took DC on ski holidays from tiny and gradually introduced skiing so now as adults they are ace skiers.

bigTillyMint Sat 29-Apr-17 14:13:42

We took ours first when they were 4 and 5. They loved it and it is by far their favourite holiday 12 years on grin

They have never done ski school - we taught them ourselves. When they were small we just skied mornings and did other stuff in the afternoons.

ChilliMum Sat 29-Apr-17 14:15:19

Ds has been skiing since he was 3. Have a look at snowbizz small english speaking family ski company in the French alps. Everything is organised at no effort to you, just take them to creche in the morning (older child to kids club) where they stay until they are taken for their ski lesson with English speaking instructors very much fun based.
Lots of lovely other activities, crafts, sledging etc to keep them happy while you enjoy the slopes.
When they were small we only skied in the mornings but now Ds is 6 we collect them at 1 have lunch and then ski together in the afternoon.
Really cannot recommend them highly enough if you have little children.

FoodieToo Sat 29-Apr-17 14:16:01

We were in Soldeu this year and it is fabulous. Our youngest is 6 now and this is the first year he really took to it.
The last few years he just didn't get into it at all, moaned during lessons etc.
All my older kids love it though. Personally I think 3 and 5 is a bit young. It won't really be their holiday but they will probably enjoy themselves anyway.

We hadn't skied in Andorra for years and were very, very impressed . We will be going back.

Hotel wise Hotel Piolets Park and Spa is just amazing. They do have 5 night minimum stay though in ski season. You might come up against this especially in half term.

Suttonmum1 Sat 29-Apr-17 14:41:50

After absolutely ages have just got my password reset in order to put in another recommendation for Snowbizz. Well run. Small resort. Apartments so close to the central lift and overlooking the snow garden. Fantastic creche system. Very good value too.

victoriousblunder Sat 29-Apr-17 15:00:25


our eldest started at 4 and youngest at 2!

They both LOVE it!

TBH, unless the budget is tight I wouldn't recommend Andorra for various reasons. Other than that you should definitely go for it- we see it as an investment, it's the only sport hat our whole family loves and can do together, hoping it's something DC will always want to do with us even as adultssmile

Bedraggledmumoftwo Sat 29-Apr-17 15:04:10

Thanks for all the input. I think we are definitely going to go it is just a question of how long we can get away with before the kids get bored or whiny! Dh and I went early this year as a cheap weekend away and got two days in (limited by how long we could leave the kids!) Which is more than we have done in the last six years!

We are just going to diy it in the same way with flights, hire car and self catering apartment so that the kids can have their own rooms. It needs to be half term as dd is now compulsory school age, Of course the flights are much more expensive at the weekends given it is half term so we were considering flying Monday and Friday, with three clear days in the middle, but it looks like the group classes and in some cases the snow gardens have to start on a Monday, but we were thinking that we could use the money saved on flights to pay for private lessons, so it is interesting to hear some of you say they might learn better in a group at that age. Is it worth paying a premium for weekend flights do they can join a group?

CassandraAusten Sat 29-Apr-17 15:06:08

My DC started age 3. They went to group lessons with ESF which was fine but doesn't work for everyone - are yours happy being left somewhere without you? We'd pick them up at 12, have lunch and ski together in the afternoon, so lots of family time too.

Bedraggledmumoftwo Sat 29-Apr-17 15:14:52

Andorra is a long way for three days - the transfer alone is 3 hours from the airport. There are great snowdomes in the U.K. (Manchester, tamworth, castleford, Hemel Hempstead, Milton Keynes) would be woryh giving the kitties a few lessons there first.

That would be good if we just wanted to try them, but the real purpose is that dh and I are hoping to get some proper runs in while the kids are in lessons or snow garden, and Milton Keynes wouldn't satiate our need! It is only a two hour flight from our local airport and we would hire a car so the transfer would be shorter and they would be comfy and we could stop whenever we liked. I didn't really want to sign up for a full week and then find they hated it and we were stuck so four or five nights seems like a good compromise?

PatriciaHolm Sat 29-Apr-17 15:18:52

So they'll be 4 and 6 - perfect! Ours started at 3.

Ours hated ski school, so we did a lot of private lessons as well as coming out with us. Ski school would normally be priced on the assumption you are doing 5 or 6 days, so you may find 3 private lessons cheaper - but may not suit as the max would probably be 2 hours, whereas ski school/snow gardens might well offer full mornings or even include lunch. It would depend how much you wanted to ski alone!

PickleSarnie Sat 29-Apr-17 15:27:01

I think it depends on the child tbh. Mine were 3 and 5 first time we went. The 3 year old hated it. He was 4 this year and actually liked it by the end of the week. But my eldest loved it right away and I think if he had been 3 when he first went he would have enjoyed it.

My eldest is now whizzing down red runs after two weeks skiing.

JennyWoodentop Sat 29-Apr-17 15:28:03

They are not too young. I'm in Canada, lots of kids start at 3 or 4. They learn really quickly at that age.

Some can be really whiny if they don't like it though - some hate all the inevitable falling over, can't tolerate the cold in their face, get cold hands and feet etc. My kids did group lessons and loved it but some kids just looked so miserable and fed up, only there because the parents wanted it.

Bedraggledmumoftwo Sat 29-Apr-17 15:42:18

I'm not really sure what the snow gardens entail- is it just playing in the snow or do they teach them to ski? The grandvalira (eg soldeu) ones only offer that under six, and offer it as a course of 3-5/days with 3hours a day of lessons plus indoor and outdoor activities so they are there all day (10-4) but that seems to be a proper course staring on monday. Which would be good for us to actually go off on our own! OTOH the vallnord (eg pal arinsal) resorts do offer proper group lessons from age four, but they are four hours a day which seems too long. They also have snow gardens for 4-8/ years old where you can leave them for a few hours or all day or all week and you have to provide them with skis, but I'm not sure whether they would actually learn any skiing or just slide around the garden with skis on! Those ones also don't mention any requirement to start on a Monday which makes sense if they are more like childcare than lessons. So I was pondering the idea of putting them into that for a few hours a day, collecting them for lunch and then booking a couple of hours private lessons in the afternoon or vice versa. The money saved from the weekday flights would mean this was much cheaper than booking them into the formal snow garden/group lessons combo on the soldeu side.
Money isn't tight but don't want to pay through the nose unnecessarily and the package trips in half term seem shockingly exorbitant, even before you pay for ski hire/lessons/lift passes etc!

MdmeShoutalot Sat 29-Apr-17 15:46:03

I'm not a fan of Andorra, mainly because on our first day, I discovered my 5 year old (who could ski well) alone at the bottom of the mountain. His group had gone off for the first lesson and accidentally left him behind. I was so cranky.

FoodieToo Sat 29-Apr-17 15:46:07

Victoria why would you not recommend Andorra? We have skied in Austria ( a few times ), Italy, Slovenia etc . and were very impressed with Andorra.

Bedraggledmumoftwo Sat 29-Apr-17 21:29:34

OK I think we are going to book the weekend flights and go for five nights so that we can use the structured snow garden/lessons for four days. Thanks for the input and hopefully if it goes well this year we can book a full week next year!

bigkidsdidit Sat 29-Apr-17 21:34:30

We took 5 and 3 year olds this year. There is no opportunity to be bored! Ski school for three hours in the morning then lunch, then snowmen / sledging. Tea, bath, bed by 6pm then grown ups have a lovely dinner grin

My three yo lessons were sort of - ski for 30 min, snowmen, hot chocolate, wee trip (ages with all the salopettes grin), more skiing. More than enough at that age. I would do your second option and have lunch together then grown ups alternate skiing in the afternoon - the children may get very tired.

Bedraggledmumoftwo Sat 29-Apr-17 21:44:28

If they were tired enough to go to bed at 6pm I would be delighted!

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