At what age can your child learn to ski?

We know how it is: you’re an enthusiastic skier, and even in summer, you are counting down the days until snow fever again. Next year, however, there will be a new addition to the family, so the question quickly arises – when can your young child learn to ski? 

You want to enjoy family ski holidays, but is there a minimum age for ski lessons or a recommended age to learn to ski or snowboard?

Many people who came to ski at an older age wish they had learned to ski when they were younger. Little one’s don’t worry as much about falling over because they don’t have far to fall and have immeasurable confidence! They dart down the slopes as if there were no tomorrow. 

So, knowing what you know, when is the right time for your child to learn to ski?

First time on skis: From the age of three

Ski schools in Europe usually accept children from the age of about three or four. Only then do they have the motor skills they need to keep their balance on skis. A little strength is also necessary to be able to make their first turns successfully. 

One crucial factor in knowing when the best time to start is when the little ones can stay dry underneath their snowsuits, i.e., they no longer need nappies. The ski instructor will thank you, and you won’t have to worry about changing their ski clothes multiple times a day. Read some helpful tips on what to pack for the kids on your ski holiday. 

It is also worth noting that children should not learn to ski too early, as it can be frustrating for them if it’s not clicking straight away. A child falling out of love with skiing early could risk spoiling your future fun with the whole family.

That said, this doesn’t mean that your kids have to stay at home with grandma and granddad until they are ready to learn to ski. Even if they’re just playing in the snow, the earlier you get the kids used to life on the slopes, the better. 

Before you are ready to book ski lessons for children, many child-friendly ski resorts offer special courses or daycare for children under the age of three. These are a great way to be playfully introduced to all things snow!

Lesson at skiing school: instructor teaching little skier how to make turns, young boy trying a snow plow turn on slope in children's area

Children do not really learn to ski until they are five years old

You should be aware that a child who learned to ski in just one week on the last skiing holiday may have forgotten everything by the next trip. Up to the age of about five, it is best to put your little one into a children’s ski school course until they have learned the basics. 

If you have the opportunity to ski several times in a season, there is a good chance that a lot of it will stick. It is only from around five years old that the little ones perfect the snowplough, the key to begin linking turns, so that the technique will follow. 

From the age of seven, the technique is honed

The most important rule when teaching children to ski is that it has to be fun. Up to the age of about seven, it’s all about fun. Only then can you start to hone in on the technique. At this age, they can learn pole use, parallel turns and how to edge up and over. 

These are good prerequisites for learning carving in the next learning stage, which usually makes sense from the teenage years onwards. 

Not every child is the same

Of course, kids differ, and it’s not uncommon to see local kids whizzing past you on a red slope at the age of five. Little speedsters who ski race start doing so at the age of five in the local sports clubs. 

Remember, these are kids who are on the mountain every day, so don’t expect too much of yours. Skiing should be fun, no matter what your age. 

If your kids don’t do much sport off the slopes, they may take a little longer to make their first turns or improve their technique. Children who do horseback riding, gymnastics, football or any other sport have a better sense of balance at a very early age. This can have a positive effect on learning new sports. 

Will your child learn better with lessons?

Certainly! A ski course has many other advantages for your child, such as learning good technique, meeting other kids, or using the ski schools’ children’s gardens. Thinking about yourself, because it’s your holiday too, while your children are in the best of hands and having lots of fun, you can enjoy a few hours to yourself on the slopes. 

If you want to teach your little one to ski yourself, you’ll need a lot of patience and willingness to go very slowly! To better enjoy your holiday, ski school lessons make a lot of sense.  Of course, if your child is shy, or you want them to get a lot of extra attention, private ski lessons are a great idea.

Ski trainer teaching kid to ski while spending day on a mountain.

Ski instructors for children’s ski courses are specially trained and have experience of the possible problems that can arise when skiing with children. They know how best to deal with them and also teach the little ones a thing or two. 

You can find out more about skiing with children in our blog post “Skiing with children: A quick guide to safety and fun with the little ones“.

Kene E.

Written by

Kene E.

Originally from Canada, Kene had never been snowboarding before a holiday to Val d'Isere 12 years ago. He's literally lived there ever since.