Getting the kids out on the slopes early is a terrific way to set your family up for awesome family adventures and vacations for years to come. And while many parents look most forward to the après part of their ski trip most, with some pre-planning, getting the kids out there on the hill for the first time can be a fun and rewarding experience for everyone.
How early can you start? Most ski camps and programs will take kids as young as three years old; some even younger. If you're planning that first trip with kids, make sure to follow this check list to get the most from your ski holiday.
1. Check out the Kids Ski Programs at the mountain. Many have all-inclusive programs, but may be age restrictive (for example from three years to 16). If you're interested, most will also offer private lessons, but naturally at a higher cost. It is worth the investment to have a professional teach your kids at the beginning.
2. If you're not sure you want to make the investment in ski equipment for your kids, it can be a good idea to rent from the resort. They'll often have "ski (or snowboard) packages" which will include boots, poles, skis, and a helmet. Helmets are mandatory (not to mention an excellent idea) for kids on most hills. Kids grow quickly also, so look into "Ski Swaps" to buy gently used equipment, and for trades next year.
3. Keep them warm. Check the weather conditions before you go, and make sure everyone has appropriate snow pants, jacket, mittens (which keep hands warmer than gloves), thermal underwear, both top and bottom, ski socks (found at most sporting outlets) and a balaclava or face wrap. It doesn't hurt to pick up some hand and toe warmers as well. Additionally, think about warm wear when you're off the hill and strolling through the village; pack a hat and some good winter snow boots.
4. If you're looking at a multi-day ski trip, plan to have some downtime. Likely the mountain will have hotels which offer outdoor hot tubs, swimming pools, activity centres, shopping and restaurants. Take in the whole ski experience, a lot of which happens off the hill.
5. At the end of their lessons, it's fun to go out as a family for some "free skiing" time. But if you are a more experienced skier, don't be tempted to take them down harder runs than they've been doing with their instructor. They might injure themselves, or get intimidated and scared, which can bother them for a while.
6. Take the time to stay and watch a little bit of their lesson, after the first day, so they can show off a bit. Kids pick up skiing and snowboarding incredibly quickly; they'll likely be able to show you how they can get down the beginner hill after the first day. But don't stay too long; they'll want Mom and Dad there every day, which will take away from your own ski experience.
7. Don't try to undo the teaching the instructors have done. Times and skis and snowboards have likely changed since you started skiing or boarding; their teaching techniques should be proven to work with kids just learning.
Above all, remember that the ski trip is a family vacation, not a working holiday. Have fun and good luck on the slopes! (I won't tell you to break a leg.)
This post originally ran on Flight Network.
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: