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Snowboard Schools: What Should Parents Look For?

Many snowboard schools will take children as young as 5 years old. Find out the details of a specific program. Snowboard school quality is truly a function of the quality of the staff.

In selecting a school for your child, ask:

  • Is the staff certified and experienced working with young children? If a snowboard school uses its kids program to train adult instructors, it may be a telltale sign that it is not geared to kids. Look for programs that hire staff specifically to work with children and have low staff turnover; these are signs that it is probably more committed to the specific needs of children.

  • Is the staff screened and trained to provide childcare? Training should include a mixture of on-mountain instruction and childcare.

  • Are parents welcome to observe from a distance? Ask if you and your child can observe a class before signing up.

  • Does the program track where each class is on the mountain? That way you can check in on how your child is doing or if you need to cut the day short unexpectedly.

  • Does the school provide progress reports for each child? Getting feedback is helpful in deciding whether more lessons are needed and to help insure proper placement if you enroll your child in a school at another ski area.

  • Are private lessons available? If you child has a difficult time in a large group environment, you should have the option of investing in private lessons with a children's snowboard instructor.

  • Is adequate security provided at drop-off and pick-up? Investigate whether or not the program has a security system in place for when kids are dropped off and picked up.

  • Are safety and fun the program's main goals? They should be.

When Your Child Is In Snowboard School

Here are some dos and don'ts:

  • Do encourage small successes - children need positive reinforcement.

  • Don't push your child past her limits.

  • Do know when it's time to stop. Parents and instructors need to be conscious of when a child is tired. A child can be like the Energizer Bunny, always going and going. Remember, as with adults, accidents are most likely to happen when a rider is tired. You don't want your child to get so totally exhausted that she won't want to snowboard at all the next day!

  • Don't hover. Hanging around too much while your child is taking a lesson makes it difficult for an instructor to teach; she shouldn't have to compete with parents for a child's attention.

  • Do try to find out why if your child is having a difficult time in snowboard school. It could be due to separation anxiety or simple fear. A good instructor will work with you and your child to ensure a positive experience.

  • Do try to sign your child up for three days of lessons in a row. Continuity, familiarity, and repetition reinforce movement patterns. Most children 5 years and older can successfully learn to stop and turn on easy novice runs over the course of three days.

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