One winter sport that many families enjoy together is snowboarding. It can be a great way for everyone to participate in a fun activity together, but learning how to snowboard can be very scary. Before you hit the slopes, check out these 8 tips to help your child through their first snowboarding experience.
Learning how to Snowboard as a Family
For the past five years, my family has gone on a snowboarding trip and it has quickly become one of my boys’ favorite vacations. We rent a house in the Poconos near the slopes with two other families. This makes it a blast for not only the kids but adults too.
Snowboarding with young children is a lot of work. When we started, my older son was 5 and my youngest was 3. They started off skiing but the second year they both wanted to learn how to snowboard. They instantly fell in love and have been snowboarding ever since then.
We are finally at the point where my boys can snowboard on their own. I can see the motivation in their eyes and eagerness to learn. When they fall, they get right back up and try again.
Teaching kids to snowboard
When your kids are young and just learning how to snowboard, remember: It’s more about getting them comfortable with snowboarding than actually snowboarding. It’s going to be challenging for them, so it’s important to make the experience enjoyable so they’ll want to do it again.
If you are considering having your children try snowboarding, here are some tips for getting them started.
1. Keep them warm.
It’s so important to keep your kids covered up not only to protect them but to keep them comfortable. Depending on the weather, you’ll need to layer accordingly. It can be very cold, so it’s important to keep everyone completely covered including faces. We’ve built up quit a collection of layers that helps keep everyone warm and dry.
What do you need?
- A base layer–thermal underwear or Under Armour
- Insulating layer–lightweight fleece top and pants that go over the base layer
- Heavy winter jacket
- Ski pants or insulated bib pants
- Ski socks (they are much different than regular socks)
- A good pair of gloves that are water and snow proof
- Hat and face mask
- SmartWool balaclava for extremely cold days (what we used and worked great)
- Goggles (generally around $25 and should last a few years)
- Warmers for both feet and hands
- Helmet (you can rent this)
Most ski resorts have lockers, so you can keep extra items in your backpack in case you need to add layers. We always keep extra socks, gloves, and hats in our bag along with extra feet and hand warmers.
2. Get there early.
My best advice is to get there early. If the ski resort opens at 9am, plan on arriving no later than 8:30am. This will allow you time to get everyone settled before the crowds arrive. Plus, by arriving early you can get a parking spot close to the lodge. We try to snag a spot in the “slope parking lot,” which is only $10.
3. Rent equipment at a local ski shop.
Waiting in a long line while everyone is bundled up is pretty much a nightmare. Usually by the time we are done, the kids are grumpy and sweating (and the adults too). We now rent our equipment at a nearby ski shop the night before. It’s been a game changer! It’s a more pleasant experience and when we get to the ski resort, all we have to do is buy lift tickets. I’ll never rent equipment again at the ski resort.
4. Take a private lesson.
Every year my boys took a private lesson, which helps them tremendously. They receive an hour of one-on-one time and learn the basics of snowboarding; starting, stopping, how to fall, clip themselves in, and get a few runs in with their instructors. It’s key to give them a foundation.
TravelingMom Tip: After the lesson, take a few minutes to talk to the instructor to understand what was taught and the areas your child needs more practice in. Ask them for tips to help reinforce what was taught in class.
5. Keep it fun.
It can be frustrating for your kids so it’s important to keep it fun and not stressful for them. If your child seems nervous, make sure you are upbeat and encouraging. I give my boys challenges to see how far they can go without falling and that keeps them motivated. When they fall, I tell them what a great job they were doing and how proud I am of them. A little encouragement can go a long way.
6. Stop for breaks.
Learning how to snowboard is a lot of work so make sure you build in time for breaks. You’ll want to stop for lunch and allow them to rest and refuel.
TravelingMom Tip: I recommended NOT taking a lunch break during prime hours. The lodge will be packed and it’s hard to find a seat. I suggest going right before the lunch crowd (11am) or right after (1:30pm) to avoid big crowds.
7. Keep them hydrated.
It’s so easy to lose track of time when you are on the mountain. Make sure your child drinks plenty of water during the breaks to help keep hydrated.
8. Practice falling.
Your children will fall, so it’s important to teach them the proper way. The safest way to fall is on their backside, but that’s not always practical. To prevent injury, teach them to make a fist and punch the snow with a straight wrist. It may take a few tries until they get it.
Remember to have patience. It can get very stressful at times. Your children may complain they are cold, tired, or their clothes are bothering them (like my boys do). Take a deep breath and remain calm. When you see your child (or maybe you) getting frustrated, it’s time to take a break.