May 092014
Our favorite school activity this winter?  Skiing!

Our favorite school activity this winter? Skiing!

At the moment, the children and I are consumed with intense homeschooling in order to complete our homeschool curriculum for June exams. We are a smidge behind in a few subjects and have had to double up on math in particular. It is time consuming and tiring but we are all working now to avoid having to school throughout the summer.

As we focus on school this month, I wanted to take a moment to review some of the homeschool-related events of this year.

With the temperature hovering around 80 degrees lately, none of us are thinking about winter but one of the most fun “school” activities we did this winter though was ski school!

We had to leave very early in the morning for lessons.  In January, we often were driving in the dark while the moon was still out!

We had to leave very early in the morning for lessons. In January, we often were driving in the dark while the moon was still out!

All of the snow we had this year made for terrific skiing!  Here, cresting the ridge of Shenandoah National Park on the way to the resort.

All of the snow we had this year made for terrific skiing! Here, cresting the ridge of Shenandoah National Park on the way to the resort.

Anyone with a child who is a "Cars" fan will appreciate that the real-life Mater was in front of us at one point as we entered the resort.  My son was thrilled!

Anyone with a child who is a “Cars” fan will appreciate that the real-life Mater was in front of us at one point as we entered the resort. My son was thrilled!

We did this last year and I wrote about it then. We returned to the same resort but this time did a slightly different program. Last year, I had one daughter in the 2-hour homeschool ski school group and one daughter (who wasn’t old enough for the homeschool group) in private lessons.

This year, my youngest was still not old enough to participate in the homeschool ski school program so I put both daughters in the “Slope Sliders” program, that runs for 4 ½ hours with a break for lunch included. Children are grouped both by age and ability in this program. My girls were put in separate classes based on their ages.

2014-05-07-slopesliders

All of the kids get personalized ski boot fitting service from the instructors.  My girls will have a rude awakening when they have to put their own boots on.

All of the kids get personalized ski boot fitting service from the instructors. My girls will have a rude awakening when they have to put their own boots on.

The resort groups the children by ability in a color-coded system, red is a beginner, orange can stop, yellow can turn, green begins the stem christie and purple starts parallel skiing skills. While you can progress quickly out of red into the orange and yellow levels, it can take a while to progress through the yellow and green levels. For these levels, there are low, middle and high levels within the color. Over the course of 5 weeks of lessons, my eldest started in the yellow group and ended up in the high green group. My youngest started in orange and ended up in green.

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Moving up to the yellow group!

Moving up to the yellow group!

The instruction was excellent! While you would not expect that we would have a lot of talented ski and snowboard instructors to choose from here in Virginia, they had a team of at least 20-30 ski school instructors, all of them wonderfully trained. They also all had wonderful personalities for working with children and the environment was very fun and encouraging.

The Slope Sliders class was designed primarily as a sort of day care for families visiting the resort on vacation. Each week we attended class there were different kids in the group. Some were international with accents ranging from European to Latin American to Asian. There were different ratios of boys and girls in each group as well. Once when my eldest daughter was put in a class primarily comprised of boys, I asked, “Were you able to keep up with the boys?” To my surprise, my daughter responded:

slow boys quote

That’s my girl!

At the end of each class, we received a report card that checked off which skills were practiced or mastered and which skills the child was still working on. My eldest was described by many of the instructors as a “joy” to have in the class. She had a positive attitude, worked hard and had good skills. Her areas to work on were matching her skis more often in preparation for parallel skiing.

My youngest daughter was often at the top of her class in terms of skiing ability but the instructors were hesitant to push her forward into a class with older children because she had trouble putting her own skis on by herself and sometimes when she fell down she needed (or wanted) the instructor to help her get up. Both of these simple skills are necessary to master in the early levels because in the advanced levels the instructor doesn’t have time to climb up the hill to help someone who has fallen or lost a ski. She also liked to lean back in her stance, which the instructors said was normal for a young child and that she would grow out of this tendency as she gets older.

"I've fallen and I cannot get up."

“I’ve fallen and I cannot get up.”

There was another “ski school” student this year too . . . my son! Since he could ski free with my paid ticket, I decided to see how we might handle the slopes together. This was a challenging effort.

Looking longingly at the snow as his sisters head off to class.

Looking longingly at the snow as his sisters head off to class.

He didn’t like wearing all the ski gear. The bib pants, ski coat and gloves were tolerated OK. The ski boots caused him some sensory challenges. He couldn’t get used to the strange walking motion required in ski boots and insisted I carry him. It was hard to haul him and all the skis at the same time. The helmet was pretty bad. He hated having anything on his head. But worst of all were the goggles. He really didn’t like having anything over his eyes. I couldn’t risk him getting an eye injury from the snow glare, however, so we had to struggle through his screams until he forgot about them.

Suited up and ready to go!

Suited up and ready to go!

Not so thrilled with the ski gear.

Not so thrilled with the ski gear.

Once we finally got all the gear on, we made our way first to the “magic carpet” ski escalators. My son was not thrilled at first. There was a lot of whining and crying. We finally got to the top of the lift and made our first run down the barely steep slope. Once my son realized that it was kind of fun to go down the hill fast his attitude changed. He no longer complained riding the magic carpets and when we got to the top he called out:

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My son got a lot of attention particularly from other men at the resort. Although men don’t really have a maternal instinct the way women do, they do have a “rescuing instinct.” I think they saw us getting ready to go down the hill and thought “Oh dear, that could be a disaster in the making. Better keep an eye on that.” The men (and dads in particular) were always pointing out that my son’s goggles and balaclava hat were falling down so they covered his eyes. I couldn’t see him since he was skiing in front of me. The poor guy was practically skiing blindfolded down the hill! One of the ski instructors gave him cool points for his effort though, “Dude, he can brag to all his friends that he started when he was 2!”

Mother son skiing selfie.

Mother son skiing selfie.

While I had purchased a special kids skiing harness and wedge tip clips my son didn’t need any of that. He would not ski at all unless I squatted down in a deep snowplow and held him around the waist. It was a tremendous thigh workout for me! Had it not been for the yoga and Tracy Anderson workouts over the past year, I would not have been able to do it!

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We tried the chairlift exactly twice. We went on the easiest lift. Getting on and off the lift required that I carry my son in my arms, skis and all. He was not frightened at the height of the ski lift and just enjoyed the view. Once we unloaded and started skiing down the hill, he would panic halfway down and want me to carry him. That was not an option so we would just ski as quickly as we could to the lodge. At that point, my son would pass out for a nap that lasted several hours. Skiing was a great way to tire him out!

Taking in the view from the chairlift.

Taking in the view from the chairlift.

It did not take much skiing to completely exhaust my son.  He would tuck into his ski coat and snooze until his sisters were done with their lessons.

It did not take much skiing to completely exhaust my son. He would tuck into his ski coat and snooze until his sisters were done with their lessons.

So, skiing with a 2 year old wasn’t a great success but we both had at least a little fun. I ran into my daughter’s private ski instructor from last year at the resort and she told me that 2-year olds can be taken for a “ride” skiing but at 3 they will actually start learning skills. We will see what happens next year!

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2014-05-08-slope-chillin

Zonked out for the car ride home.

Zonked out for the car ride home.

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One Comment to “Ski Lessons”

  1. avatar diadia says:

    Schussboomers 101–Alta, Utah needs U.

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