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Bad experience with kids ski school ( ESF) on a Clubmed holida

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Ozboy, I know interesting question isn't it? Experience with my kids is particularly at higher ESF levels they are pushed out of comfort zone whereas in Austria they stayed within the kids comfort zones. So I guess depends on kid. If they are happy outside comfort zone great..but that's not all kids and others won't like being made to ski on steep ungroomed icy slopes and may even lose confidence and regress.

But after making it down a serious slope without falling kid may still get criticized for being in back seat.. I guess if they are to become really good skiers they need to be called on technique, but of course kids hate that
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@peanuthead, Its a fine line between encouraging/pushing and scaring the crap out of them so they hate it. I don't know the answer but for us as long as they enjoy it we keep encouraging it. If they really hate it (either intentionally or due to bad experience) they can do something else. So far we've experienced the Italian system at Madesimo which was chaos (although poor snow conditions and limited space for little ones) we got a refund and paid for 2 hours of private a day at EUR40 / hour (bargain), Austria - brilliant..., and from next season and for the foreseeable years we will be in the hands of ESF in Chatel.
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peanuthead wrote:
@Ozboy I guess if they are to become really good skiers they need to be called on technique, but of course kids hate that


Ha. Not just kids. But kids especially hate it when their parents do it.
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@ster, +1
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We have also junked group lessons for ours. A couple of hours each day with a private instructor is better value I think.

Having said that ESF in St Martin/3v were brilliant with my eldest. An independent 'non-traditional' ski school in Val Venus were abysmal with our youngest who wet himself and they made him ski in his wet salopettes Shocked
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When the hell is Val Venus?!?! I want to go there. 3V That should have said.
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When the hell is Val Venus?!?! I want to go there. 3V That should have said.
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Quote:

abysmal with our youngest who wet himself and they made him ski in his wet salopettes

shame, poor little thing must have been miserable. But what should the instructor have done?
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It was more that he was only 4, it was a private lesson, and he had already told her he needed the loo. She could have called us because we were never more that 10 minutes away (and she knew this). She was crapper than a crap thing.
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Italian instructors, on the other hand, have all been very kind, to a fault. I do not care if the kids are still pizza-ing after a week as long as they are having fun and being cared for.

There is a problem with some French pedagogy I think. It's basically sink or swim, do everything yourself from the age of 4. Treating kids as mini adults, which they are categorically *not*.
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@robertsnerys, two years ago in our first ski holiday with kids we used ESF in Chamonix. One of my friends daughters ( I think she was 6 at the time) needed the toilet but the instructor told her she needed to wait... She was desperate and became distressed. Then one of the boys in the group said to her " don't worry ..your sallopets are waterproof!" She believed him ..poor girl Sad
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@Bella2015, that's a lose-lose for the instructor. What do you think she should have done bearing in mind she could easily be 30 mins from a loo, with 12 kids in tow, and has to get her class back to the meeting point at a determined time or parents panic and the whole days schedule is disrupted?
A) send child alone to loo on mountain?
B) leave group alone and take child to loo?
C) abandon whole lesson, take whole class to loo, and put up with 11 complaints from parents who all make their kids go to the loo before they put their salopettes on every morning and have lost a lesson that they paid for?
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A group of 6yo are unlikely to be 30 mins from a loo.

Even so You would do the sensible thing surely and take them to the side and make yellow snow.

Some parents would complain about toilet breaks for 6yo?? Really? If they did that to me they would be handed their back bottom on a plate!
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Oh god this forum autocorrect minor rude words.... how incredibly proper!
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Quote:

Even so You would do the sensible thing surely and take them to the side and make yellow snow.

Some parents would complain about toilet breaks for 6yo?? Really? If they did that to me they would be handed their back bottom on a plate!


Absolutely.

But if this thread has shown anything, it is that parents each have their own view of what is right for their children and take a firm line with an instructor/ski school that does it differently.

FWIW I think the ESF may be too far on the side of 'suck it up' for many, but that does seem to be the French way. At least, it was in the secondary school that I found myself teaching English in as a gap year student. The head of dept was clear what he expected me to get the students to do, and advised me to push on.
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@snowdave, they were beginners on the nursery slope, with toilets close by...
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robertsnerys wrote:
A group of 6yo are unlikely to be 30 mins from a loo.

Even so You would do the sensible thing surely and take them to the side and make yellow snow.

Some parents would complain about toilet breaks for 6yo?? Really? If they did that to me they would be handed their back bottom on a plate!


My daughter used to call them (maybe still would but is old enough now not to get caught out) Nature Wee’s.
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It is difficult to get it right with kids ski lessons. My Christmas present to two grandchildren - aged 5 and 7 - was lessons in a "mini team" at ESI in Les Saisies. Both had had lessons with the school before and are following the ESI badge progression. The 7 year old ended in a class of only 2 and got on famously except one very cold day when she was crying when I picked her up (the weather was quite challengeing!). The 5 year old was in a class of 3 and seemed fine the first day. The instructor told me she was skiing fine with the group. (That was Christmas day - starting at 0900 - that was a mission, getting them kitted with hire gear as they only arrived at 8 pm on Christmas Eve!). But after Wednesday's lesson she was a bit listless and my daughter and SiL had seen them out on the mountain. She was just snowploughing very competently around, looking bored. My daughter and SiL are both teachers and very aware of the idiocy of some parents, so were a bit reluctant to ask if she could be moved up a group - but I'd paid a lot for small group lessons - and we did ask. They said the next group up had a non-English speaking instructor (which was probably why she'd been put in the lower group in the first place) but we thought that would be fine. Unfortunately Thursday morning was hugely snowy - the road out of our garage had not been ploughed and we had to beat a path with snowshoes even to get to the road. Eventually, after getting stuck in deep snow on the garage road (despite chains and winter tyres) and being towed out by the plough, when it eventually turned up, and phoning the ski school to say we'd be 15 minutes late, Beth joined up with the higher class. She was much more animated after the lesson (despite nasty weather) and thoroughly enjoyed the Friday lesson - gaining the coveted next badge (kids do love badges). We had been right to move her. Fortunately her older sister got her badge too though she confided to me afterwards that she thought she didn't really deserve it as her skis weren't always parallel.

The last day of their holiday - new year's eve - we all skied together and 7 year old Ella elected to be my ski instructor. She was hilarious but it was intereting to glean snippets of what she'd been doing with the instructor (someone I know, and have had lessons with myself). She was very strict that I must "turn around my pole" and taught me how to sideslip "you must keep your weight mostly on your downhill ski". I overtook her on a path and she said "Excuse me" very sternly and as I snowploughed to slow down behind her she said "No snowplough - you are finished with snowplough now except on steep slopes".

That child, who is a technical/analytical learner, would have been unhappy with a non English-speaking instructor. Her little sister, apart from being two years younger, is a much more physically bold child who learns by doing, by watching and copying. Their parents are the same. Dad is a PE teacher and natural athlete - Mum (like me) is analytical and much more cautious.

The girls were lucky to be in such small groups (the mini team can be up to 5 children). It's a huge challenge for any instructor to have 10 or 12 very different kids - different temperaments - different abilities - and in many ski schools it's the least experienced instructors who face that challenge. In the ESI in Les Saisies they strictly take turns - it's more democratic than ESF.

I've had mixed experiences with ESF. Excellent cross country instruction - really good (though 100% French - I know the vocabulary!). But a very arrogant instructor for an off piste lesson in great powdery conditions. He spoke superb English but seemed more bent on having a good time himself than teaching me. He took me down the track of an open (though deserted because buried in snow) drag lift in a gulley. Sort of natural half pipe. He swooped elegantly down into it, up the other side - I hurtled down, fortunately had enough momentum to get up the other side before collapsing in a heap. Absolutely bloody stupid place to take someone with my very limited off piste ability - but he he enjoyed it. Twisted Evil
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@pam w, ...great analysis of the very different approaches needed for different children. I could not agree more. That's why I support small groups so strongly, and my kids have always been in Swiss Mountain Sports in Crans, with a maximum group size of 5, and frequently less (fewer?). My son is very cognitive learner, and thinks hard about what is being said, and then works hard on applying. He did this from a tiny age, and I agree with your 'disposition' view - complex 'nature and nurture' but very evident with different children. He recently (age12) decided to try some snowboarding, had brilliant 1:1 instruction (Alain at SMS) - after 6 days he was getting air and doing grabs in the snowpark....grrr...what it is to be young... . Meanwhile, my daughter is much more timid, and learns by 'feel' - as per your comparisons. You can make all the recommendations about technique which you want, and she will still stare somewhat blankly at you, and then slowly feel her way into improvement. It's just so different an approach, and lodged in the way she is.

I know the madness of early starts after travelling - we now have a 'rest day' of flopping around, doing the hoovering, clearing snow, getting wood and a couple of hours of skiing before the first full day of bonkers hurtling and getting to instruction.
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thank you all for sharing your experiences and insights ... really helpful for future planning of my kids ski instruction
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We used New Generation in Courchevel who were absolutely brilliant with the kids.
I know that my two boys will undoubtedly fight, and we let the instructor know that. He was firm with them and they knew he wasn't messing about.
They then behaved really well that week but I think a bit of give/take with the instructors is a must.
They are there to keep your kids safe and the kids need to know that the instructor is a teacher and figure of authority. New Gen got the balance just right.

Our friends son was with ESF, learning from scratch. While they were OK, he did say that the instructor spent most of his time on his phone, and at one point on the chairlift he was watching a video of a naked woman playing the drums. Smile Very Happy . That did really make us all laugh but I suspect most parents would have been pretty unhappy about that one !! Laughing
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Our daughters (now 8 and 5) can be tricky customers at ski school. Our eldest has skied 6 weeks every season since she was 2, but prefers to chill out and ski with easier groups rather than be seriously challenged. Our youngest is the opposite and wants to push as hard as she can. So we mix them up with both private and group lessons as we see fit and dependent on their mood. Progress for both of them appears to be linked strongly with the "fun factor", so we try to make it fun rather than a "school lesson". I think that's where the Canadian ski schools get it right. I don't have much experience of ESF, but it looks scary to me, lol!
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@uktrailmonster, 6 weeks every season! Wow ! So lucky... I am sure they are both really good skiers now and probably don’t even need ski school... my kids get only 1 week a year so need to make the most of it
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Quote:

My daughter used to call them (maybe still would but is old enough now not to get caught out) Nature Wee’s.

Well she's wrong - they are Wilderness Wees.
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Bella2015 wrote:
@uktrailmonster, 6 weeks every season! Wow ! So lucky... I am sure they are both really good skiers now and probably don’t even need ski school... my kids get only 1 week a year so need to make the most of it


Trust me they do still need ski school for the discipline! When they ski with us they are like wild animals. Our eldest skis pretty well, but no better than some kids of the same age who ski for only a week or two per season. But one difference is that she can cope with pretty much any snow conditions, which would usually catch out less experienced kids. She can also ski better than she often shows because she doesn't take it seriously and isn't particularly competitive. Our youngest on the other hand is exceptionally good for a 5 year old when she's in the mood. She sometimes ends up skiing in groups with much older kids and still gives them a hard time. For example at Christmas they put her in a group with a bunch of reasonably cocky 10 year old boys and they were all looking at her thinking it was some mistake, but she was the strongest skier in the group. In private lessons our daughters often ski together.

What I've learned over the years is that young kids don't necessarily have the same passion for skiing as their parents, so you have to make allowances. Our daughters enjoy skiing on the whole, but 6 weeks per season is seriously pushing their attention span. So they don't realise at all how lucky they really are!
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@robertsnerys, ..absolutely. The large group size - I frequently see 10-12 in ESF or ESS - makes this a distinct problem - one I think inflicted on the instructors by the school policy. I have heard of more than one distressing incident of this kind, which I know can stick in a child's mind for an extremely long time. Not good at all - in fact unacceptable.

@closey1973, ...I am clear about what I want my kids to achieve through instruction: enhanced technique, love of the hills, and general awareness of codes of behaviour - within that I accept that kids learn in different ways, with different objectives and at a different pace - no decent school would ignore this reality. But this sounds a million miles from professional behaviour.
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midgetbiker wrote:
Quote:

My daughter used to call them (maybe still would but is old enough now not to get caught out) Nature Wee’s.

Well she's wrong - they are Wilderness Wees.


If the topic comes up again I’ll suggested that to her Happy
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