There are lots of things you will need to think about and organise before your child starts to snowboard.
So here are some basic bits of practical advice and hopefully helpful tips to get you started.
For more in depth, age tailored information and advice visit our Ages & Stages section.
Practical Techniques & Tips
We appreciate that it is not always possible for a child to have a snowboard lesson with a snowboard instructor – age limits, price, availability, child temperament etc. are just some potential issues. Where possible, it’s recommended, especially if they are over 5 or 6. However, rather like learning to drive for adults, a lot of a child’s real snowboard ‘learning’ happens when they are practicing and building on what they have learnt in a lesson. The more time they are putting in on the slopes the more they learn; and the majority of this time, especially as they get older, will be with parents.
So here are a few hints and tips to help you help them get riding initially and then, hopefully, get riding well!
- Before they get on snow, get them to practice getting into their kit – getting the feel for the board, boots and bindings. Even pull them around on the carpet and they will probably try jumping about too – so watch out for board edges and furniture!
- Talk them through the equipment and explain the different parts (toe & heel edge, nose, tail etc)
- If they are older you can also talk them through the basic techniques – all this helps things not to feel so alien when they finally get on snow!
- Take snacks and drinks! Kids, especially young ones, need their energy levels kept up and a square of chocolate or a piece of flapjack will work wonders in prolonging a session. Also keeping hydrated is a given – especially if you are in the mountains.
- Keep session short and sweet for younger kids and mix up techniques and teaching time for all kids. So don’t only intersperse riding and practicing with games and hot chocolate stops but mix up the things you teach them to keep it interesting.
- Kids don’t need instruction all the time – they need mileage, practice and time on their boards!
- Go through slope safety and etiquette with your kids ie. stop at the sides of the slopes, always put your board down bindings down etc.
- As they get older some kids are real visual learners so make sure your technique is up to scratch!
- Lessons with you or with instructors are initially about getting confidence and comfortable not rapid progression!
- So practice with patience!
- And above all – keep your time on snow with your kids as FUN as you can! Mess about with them, play games, praise their efforts and enjoy riding with them – that more than anything will get them wanting to ride again! ……and of course, hopefully then they learn to love it!!
Try and get the most appropriate equipment you can.
- Child specific snowboards with a modern design and within the right size range – see our Snowboard Guide section for more information.
- Good fitting snowboard boots and easy to use bindings – see our Boots and Bindings guides for more information.
- Winter specific clothing and layers – especially waterproof gloves and snowboard pants.
- A winter sports specific helmet and goggles – see our Helmet & Body Armour Guide
If you are going on holiday or going to lesson at a UK slope and hiring equipment, make sure you have sourced or reserved equipment before you go. Often if you just ‘turn up’ somewhere you may struggle to find very small equipment – thankfully this is changing as more and more children take up snowboarding and the demand for equipment gets higher. It is less of a problem with bigger sizes but they can be hard to get hold of so always best to pre-plan.
If you are buying your child snowboard equipment, bear in mind it can be expensive so keep an eye out for sales; look into kit that ‘grows with your child’ and think about board sizing carefully – eg. should you size for two winters or size for the here and now?
Also be aware that you can normally sell on old equipment easily if it is in good condition, as well as passing it on to siblings (if your child has any!) which will make any purchases much more economical.
Resort and Slope Advice & Tips
You may have a resort already in mind or even booked or you may be keen to choose area that is geared up for teaching kids and has easily accessible beginner slopes. Or you may live in the mountains or be just deciding to arrange a lesson at a UK based slope. Whatever or wherever you are planning there are lots of things you can consider to help make the experience a positive one for both you and your child.
If you are considering the mountains and are undecided about location you can research various things about ski resorts:
- Beginner and intermediate slopes and their access – some beginner slopes are free, so it is definitely worth looking into this! But be aware these can get busy during peak holiday weeks.
- Lift pass prices (did you know that some resorts offer free lift passes to children under certain ages? They’re free if you’re under 8 in some Italian resorts and free under 6 in some French and even up to under 9 in some Swiss resorts!) It’s definitely worth weighing up the pros and cons of resorts v’s costs!
For more information see our Resort Guide
- Snowboard schools. Ski schools will be less likely to take younger children in lessons, be less likely to have had specific training on teaching young children to snowboard and less likely to have child specific resources and equipment. Although this is certainly not true for all ski schools (some have excellent snowboard instructors) it is well worth looking into this and booking up early if you plan to put your child into lessons. And obviously, choosing a snowboard specific teaching school makes more sense so plan ahead on this.
For more information see our Snowboard Schools Guide