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Kids ski school- instruction or guides?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Just come back from a great week in val d’isere where our 11 year old son was in ski school with Oxygene. He was in their 3rd ski group, able to ski reds but still working on his parallel turns.

Ski school this year seemed to just be guiding a group of kids around the mountain. There were no drills or any kind of instruction until I complained, and the view seemed to be that we should pay for private lessons if we wanted our son to have instruction.

When I was in ski school, 30 odd years ago, a significant part of each session would be spent on drills. Looking around the mountain, the ESF seemed to be drilling their students, but I didn’t see many other group lessons actually teaching drills etc.

Is this the new way of teaching or have we had a lazy instructor?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
lower wrote:
When I was in ski school, 30 odd years ago, a significant part of each session would be spent on drills.

Were you 11 at the time?
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
When my Kids were around that age (in Val D'Isere as it happens) - or maybe a little younger - there was a mixture of skiing about and instruction. This was with either Evo 2 or through Snow Fun's English office. The problem with the group lessons, was the class was made up with whoever was about, as they struggled to make up a class....which meant that after a year or two, they learned nothing new. At this point we went with Private lessons.

This was over 20 years ago, so I can't comment on what currently happens....but I'd like to think there was some technical input going on.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Sun 13-02-22 20:09; edited 2 times in total
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Not exactly 30 years ago, but I was in ski school when I was 11.

To be clear, I don’t expect the whole of the lessons to be drills. Much of the lesson will be just skiing around the mountain having fun. But I did expect some tuition.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
When I was with ESF on school trips late 80s, there were very few drills, just “follow me” (perhaps all leaning left/right in a snake). I maintain that’s why I’m a crap skier; bad habits baked in. Considering that was on 2.1m parallels and I’m now on 1.7m carvers, perhaps I should lay off the blame a bit…
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Kids learn differently from adults. They are much better visual learners than most adults. "Follow me" teaching actually works pretty well for a lot of kids. Take kids to interesting places, challenge them, make it fun. My heart breaks if I see kids doing loads of drills.

For example, if I want kids I'm teaching to get better at riding their toe edge, I don't spend edges doing toe edge drills. Kids hate that. They're bored, uncomfortable and they don't understand the point. Instead, I go places where we have to ride on our toe edge, go over a load of bumps on it, get them to try jumping on toeside. Before they even realise, they're good at riding toe edge. And they've had loads of fun. But it probably looked like we were just messing about.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I get the impression that the ESF has stricter criteria for advancement - certainly for localish kids. Our neighbours in Les Saisies (she was French, he was Canadian, lived in Geneva, three kids who had skied from tiny) insisted they did ski school with ESF each time and I remember one of the kids, about 11, being upset because she had failed for the second time to be promoted. She was, to my eyes, a pretty smart little skier, too, certainly heaps better than me. But not good enough, on the slalom, for the next class. I suspect a lot of British parents treat ski school as essentially child care, and would be cross if little whatsisname "failed" the week and didn't get promoted to a higher class the following year. I also suspect that lots of British kids, especially once they can ski better than their parents, which often doesn't take long, would learn more from closely following the track laid down by a skilled instructor than skiing with their parents. Older kids in my family, in French ski lessons, have been off piste, sometimes in some shocking weather, and done stuff that cautious, and probably not very competent, parents, wouldn't do.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
My post overlapped with the one from @stevomcd - he says it much better!
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
I have wondered myself whether they actually do anything to really push the kids to learn, rather than just getting them to follow them around the mountain. I felt that for my first kids lessons with prosneige - big classes and effectively a follow the leader everywhere. I think they could have learned a lot more and probably spent most of their time in lift queues. Second year with New Gen was good - I think the 4 hours they did pushed harder and they were smaller classes, unfortunately the weather hampered them a lot with 2-3 days out of 6 bad weather.

This year I have got for private lessons with just the two of them. I think that the focus on their technique this week will be much better and I expect them to be confident by the end of the week especially as the weather is looking great. Shouldn’t be many lift queues where we are going, and they can both go on the lift together with the instructor which makes me feel much better too.

If this goes well I doubt we would go back to group lessons.
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
stevomcd wrote:
Kids learn differently from adults. They are much better visual learners than most adults. "Follow me" teaching actually works pretty well for a lot of kids. Take kids to interesting places, challenge them, make it fun. My heart breaks if I see kids doing loads of drills.

For example, if I want kids I'm teaching to get better at riding their toe edge, I don't spend edges doing toe edge drills. Kids hate that. They're bored, uncomfortable and they don't understand the point. Instead, I go places where we have to ride on our toe edge, go over a load of bumps on it, get them to try jumping on toeside. Before they even realise, they're good at riding toe edge. And they've had loads of fun. But it probably looked like we were just messing about.


That’s really good to know. Thank you for posting. I did wonder if I was just outdated in my expectations of how kids should learn nowadays.

In fairness, my son's skiing undoubtedly improved over the week, so the follow me approach obviously worked.

I’d not really thought about it too much until I noticed that my son was lifting the front of his inside ski in the turns and asked the instructor if he could help. His response was only if we put him in a private lesson and it was then that I started to wonder how much teaching was happening in the lessons. .
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
I remember lapping a drag lift a few times, watching two young kids, each with their own ESF instructor. They were doing side slipping drills. Straight down, stop, down, stop. Then a bit of falling leaf, weight forwards, weight backwards. Absolutely superb learning for them but oh, so very boring! The parents had clearly paid a fortune, and insisted that they both be drilled in this key skill. The kids probably had no choice - and I had no problem with that. Kids these days, you know - they do tend to have very low boredom thresholds, which is not good! A bit of discipline is good for them. Laughing
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
pam w wrote:
I remember lapping a drag lift a few times, watching two young kids, each with their own ESF instructor. They were doing side slipping drills. Straight down, stop, down, stop. Then a bit of falling leaf, weight forwards, weight backwards. Absolutely superb learning for them but oh, so very boring! The parents had clearly paid a fortune, and insisted that they both be drilled in this key skill. The kids probably had no choice - and I had no problem with that. Kids these days, you know - they do tend to have very low boredom thresholds, which is not good! A bit of discipline is good for them. Laughing

You make a good point. When you only get to ski for one week a year, it needs to be fun!
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Certainly young kids are all about visual learning, no point in doing lots of drills with six year olds, but by 11 they do have there place when used appropriately.
As for the attitude that you have to book a private lesson to get individual feedback or help with an obvious error, then that is very poor and does sound like a lazy / bad instructor. Yes there will be less individual pointers in a group session than a private but not being able to provide any, especially when specifically asked to is just not on.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
lower wrote:
I’d not really thought about it too much until I noticed that my son was lifting the front of his inside ski in the turns and asked the instructor if he could help. His response was only if we put him in a private lesson and it was then that I started to wonder how much teaching was happening in the lessons. .

I was kind of with the they learn by watching, following and being challenged comments but equally I am not sure I agree with the above. I would expect the instructor to watch and to occasionally pick up on faults. Also you can make drills fun and build them them in to a more general sesson.

Also brings into question if that if it constitutes "skiing lessons with a skiing instructor" if it's just follow a good skier around the mountain - watch and learn.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Some of our kids in lessons have done skiing backwards - and they love showing that off to parents, afterwards, as the parents' efforts are generally dire. Simple, fun, good learning, and quite littlies can have a go.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
lower wrote:
I’d not really thought about it too much until I noticed that my son was lifting the front of his inside ski in the turns and asked the instructor if he could help. His response was only if we put him in a private lesson and it was then that I started to wonder how much teaching was happening in the lessons.

I suspect that anything more than the instructor telling the kid to stop doing it would take some time, the way to get this time is by paying for a private lesson.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

I’d not really thought about it too much until I noticed that my son was lifting the front of his inside ski in the turns and asked the instructor if he could help. His response was only if we put him in a private lesson and it was then that I started to wonder how much teaching was happening in the lessons.

If you've got a group of kids, I'd imagine you have to teach to the whole group, so you pick something that is of benefit to the majority and make that the focus. If you start addressing one individual's issue in a group, then the rest will switch off/get bored. So yes, there will be learning going on in a group, but if you want individual attention, then I would have thought that a private lesson is the way to go.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Our kids skied for years in group lessons but the year they decided to learn to snowboard we switched them to private lessons, they switch between boards and skis as they want. They do very few drills while on skis but they do a lot of fun things which in turn teaches them skills. Yes, I’m technically still a better skier than both of them BUT they can do so much more than me and are much more confident.
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