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4 year old - lski esson options. Which is best?

(14 Posts)
TiddlerTiddler Wed 01-Oct-08 16:23:09

We are planning to bring our little boy skiing this year for the first time. He will be 4 1/4. He is very sociable... but a bit slightly built.

I can't decide whether to put him group lessons or bankrupt is by paying for private tuition for him.

The only reason I am wavering and thinking the private option is that the most important thing for us that he enjoys himself and doesn't get put off. I think that maybe 1-on-1 would at least have someone looking after him / picking him up etc. and responding to him specifically.

The group lessons would be more sociable and fun. And obviously, much better financially!!! But I have seen many many groups with small people in tears covered in snot. And clearly not having a good time, but having to ski anyway.

We are going in December which is another reason I am nervous about the group thing. Its Val d'isere and there is no specific indoor respite areas for small people apparently the way there is in Zermatt etc.

Would really appreciate the views of people who have gone through this.

ErnestTheBavarian Wed 01-Oct-08 16:50:34

Not clear - have you already booked holiday? If not, I would suggest a Kinderhotel in Austria, fab hotels and great ski facilities for little one, usually on site, so you can go off for day and lo can ski and play and have fun, or you can stay and have fun with him too of course.

prettybird Wed 01-Oct-08 16:58:55

In Meribel, Magic in Motion's group ski lessons for that age were only for two hours - and that included a wee break and snack.

In the afternoons we put him into the ESF Jardin de P'tits Loups, now called the Club Piou Piou) which was a snow kindergarten which also did some basic lessons, but also had an inside "respite" area.

It seemed to work for ds. However, you need to be careful not to tire them and push them to go places they don't want to go - or when they have had enough! wink

BTW - our ski instrucotr friends checked ds out for being "ready". Like your ds, he is sociable but slightly built. They were happy for him to start as he wasn't tall (tall 4 year olds can apparently have some difficulty coordinating their centre of balance)

Last Febraury ds was 7 and he manages (easy) red slopes.

TiddlerTiddler Wed 01-Oct-08 18:44:10

We have booked accomodation and flights. Now just sorting the other bits and pieces. lessons, passes etc.

PB - you have hit the nail on the head. its exactly the tiring them out / had enough / going where they don't want to etc. etc. is the issue that I am trying to avoid.

The group lesson is 3 hours - even for the kids. Its just seems really long for a 4 year old.

Maybe I am just being paranoid about it.

TiddlerTiddler Wed 01-Oct-08 18:57:15

thanks for kinderhotel tip. will keep in mind for next time.

TiddlerTiddler Wed 01-Oct-08 20:48:52

PrettyBird - how did yours learn in the end? From your friend or in a regular group?

I would go for the group lesson as they're more likely to tire out in a private lesson.

My dd learnt to ski from the age of 3 in group lessons. I used to go and spy on her and she always seemd to be having fun. She's small for her age but has always coped with it. They don't physically do anything too hard imho at that age - lots of shuffling around on a very gentle slope. As they take it in turns going through the hoops or whatever they get a rest while its someone elses turn. But even when they're resting its good that they're getting used to the "feel" of skis. I think kids will have more fun and try harder in groups. The instructors are used to little ones and in my expereince are very good with them. My dd was in totally in love with her ski instructor in Courcheval when she was 4. Still talks about him 3 years on! Never seen any kid crying in 4 years of her having group lessons.

TiddlerTiddler Wed 01-Oct-08 21:43:05

Thanks stripey. Thats really helpful.

Oxygene ski school say they limit the group size to 6. So hopefully that would help the instructors spot someone who was having a tough time and needed help.

prettybird Thu 02-Oct-08 09:06:41

He was in a group - although in the first year there was only one other child in the group! grin

I would say a ski school that teaches in small groups is the best option - they have fun together and skiing should be about fun.

If the lesson is 3 hours, make sure not to try to do much with your ds in the afternoon. it is tempting to 2see hwat they can do" - but you should probably just get him down the mountain and have some fun playing in the snow. And if he says he wants to go back to the chalet/hotel. don't force it. (I speak as parents who do sometimes try to force it blush - they always win! wink)

annasmami Thu 02-Oct-08 10:59:41

I would also recommend a Kinderhotel in Austria. We've been to two different ones over the past 3 years and the kids (started going when smallest was 2) LOVED it. They have the option of playing in the kids club or going to the hotel's ski slope for lessons. They then come back in for lunch and can ski some more in the afternoon if they want. It also means that we (parents) could enjoy the day skiing by ourselves.

But to answer your question specifically, I think group lessons are more fun and less tiring (because they don't ski all the time while they wait for the others). The instructors we met in Austria were all brilliant and motivated the kids really well.

prettybird Thu 02-Oct-08 11:29:25

Oh - and I specifically wouldn't put your ds into an ESF class (as opposed to one of their snow gardens).

In Meribel at least, some of the ski school classes are far too large hmm. We did however put ds in to the Snow Garden in the afternoons and he seemed to enjoy it (although once or twice he didn't want to go - once we forced it and the other time, when it was really wet, we just went back to the chalet)

The "Snow Garden" in Val d'Isere looks very good Have a look and might be an option for afternoons if you wanted to do a bit more skiing.

ESF are fine if you are with an opertor that specifys not more than 6 or not more than 8 in a group. I think its just the self-booked lessons that can sometimes have bigger groups.

DD has been in ESF class every year apart from one - never had more than 8, last year only 3.

DrGeorge Fri 03-Oct-08 17:14:10

If you are going in December (unless it's Christmas week) I would be surprised if the lesson groups are large - this tends to be more of a problem in the school hols and pre-Christmas tends to be quieter. We
booked ESF independently for ours when our youngest was 4 and they both really enjoyed it. The instructor made the lesson fun and they didn't get overtired - we took them out again with us after lunch. I do acknowledge that ESF does seem to vary in quality from area to area. If you look on the Where to Ski and Snowboard site they often have comments on reviews they've had about specific ski schools - or try snowheads and ask specifically about kids instructors in VdI. Never been there unfortunatly - recommendation is often the best.

We have since booked private lessons for our 2 as they don't like the rigidity (and nor do I particularly) of having to be up and out and in ski school for 9am. These have worked really well but ours are now good skiers and can have some real excitement with an instructor. If you go for a private lesson you could book only an hour at a time if you were worried that a longer session would be too much - but would you then have to pay for childcare too! Again, I think in December off-peak you'd have no problem booking private lessons when you got there.

TiddlerTiddler Fri 03-Oct-08 21:39:39

Thanks Dr.George. Yes - pre-xmas December. So "low" we have to book our own flights and no tour ski school running yet! ha ha

Snow Garden looks lovely PB!

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