Michigan Ski Blog – Skiing and Snowboarding in Michigan

Mitten Kidz - Start teaching your toddler to ski now… indoors

teaching a toddler to ski by starting indoors

It all starts indoors with a toddler

By Joan O’Neill - Mitten Kidz

We had our youngest on skis and on the bunny slope this past March, at the age of 15 months. But I would be kidding you if I said it was anything more than a photo op and perhaps future fodder for say, a 2034 Winter Olympics athlete biography.

While that remains to be seen — and will be entirely up to our son — in all reality, the upcoming 2012-2013 winter will mark his true entry into the sport. And as with any soon-to-be two year old (much less one that shares both my and my husband’s bloodline), streaks of toddler stubbornness and it’s-my-way-or-no-way moments will come up on the slopes, and we’ll be left wondering if we should actually wait a year — or four.

How can we lessen the chances of this? Start indoors and start now, before the slopes open. Here’s how:

  1. Build excitement before heading to the slopes – Talk enthusiastically about skiing (and snow!) with your little MittenKidz so as to pique your toddler’s curiosity. Read books and look at pictures of skiers.
  2. Play in your boots at home – Put your child’s boots on (be sure to wear yours too) and walk around in them. Play games that will get them used to maneuvering in heavy boots, such as squishing bugs (imaginary… or real!) or marching.
  3. Put the skis on – Bindings are tough for kids. They will need your help for a while. With our oldest, as he holds onto our shoulders, we help him work his toe and heel in, and help him push down on his heel until the binding “burps.” (Works especially will with boys.) Another mother pretended the binding was a shark with her two girls — “Fin down means he’s hungry (ready for the boot), fin up means he’s full.”
  4. Play — Once you have the skis on, again, walk around indoors (you do this too!). Start with one ski until your little one can balance and walk on two. Lift one leg and then the other like a bear. Give them objects to play with or chase after, like a Nerf ball. This will take their mind off the equipment and allow them to move about more naturally and playfully. And as you do this, make sure your child maintains a wide, balanced stance.
  5. Don’t forget the helmet and goggles — these can be as unfamiliar as the boots and skis themselves.

Have fun!

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Joan O’Neill is a member of North America Snowsports Journalists Association and the author of the blog, MittenKidz.com. A 20-year veteran of the Michigan ski business, O’Neill has taught and toted kids of all ages about various Michigan ski areas and resorts and provides a weekly Michigan ski report to several radio stations across the state on the Michigan Talk Network’s Michigan Morning Show. A big proponent of getting out and having fun in Michigan, no matter what the season, O’Neill herself started skiing with her family at the age of five, and has had her oldest son on skis since 19 months. Son number two, just over a year, will soon be on his way, she says.

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