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Help! Private lesson for 4 mixed age kids, or ESF group lessons?, snowHeads ski forum
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Help! Private lesson for 4 mixed age kids, or ESF group lessons?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We're heading to Oz en Oisans at Easter and are looking at ski lessons for the kids.

It's two families so two 8 year olds (one skied for a week age 3, the other is confident on ice skates but never skied). And two 5 year olds who have never skied.

We have two lessons booked at a snowdome before we go.


Option 1 is private lesson for all 4 of them over lunch 11.45 - 2.15. We could do some family ski time before the lesson . Instructor has great reviews and speaks great English.

Option 2 is ESF morning lessons 9 - 11.30 which would be bigger group of kids but segregated by age as you have to be 6 plus to go in the older kids ESF bit. We could maybe do family ski time in afternoon or lunch but might be slushy in late afternoon and hard to get them to get going for lunch.

Timings wise option 1 appeals more but I'm worried the differing ages would cause a problem and 8 year olds get held back or 5 year olds exhausted.

What do you reckon?

Thanks! Jenny
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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That's a difficult question, especially without knowing the kids. 8 years old is an great age to learn to ski, and ice skating will help a lot. They should get on really well. Big difference between 8 and 5. But if you know personally of a great instructor, and he or she is happy with the group as constituted, it could work well.

It's such a gap, too, between a private lesson and a potentially big group of 10 - 12 beginners. Are there any ski schools offering "small group" options?
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
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Bung them in ESF. Group lessons will be fun.

Also add that the 5 year olds might not venture much further than snow garden and nursery slopes, and 8 year olds would get pretty frustrated with that if in single private lesson.
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Thanks guys for the advice.this particular instructor isn't doing small group lessons as she says she's booked up with repeat customers instead, probably because it's Easter. The other private instructors in oz don't seem to advertise small group lessons.

It's hard cos until we get there we won't know how much English would be spoken in ESF lessons. I think I'm edging towards the esf lessons though as you say, to stop the 8 year olds getting bored. Just feel a bit bad they'll miss out on small group teaching which perhaps would more than compensate for the age difference...
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@jellyspoons, I don’t think it possibly can compensate because the 5 year olds will most likely hold them up a lot.
I would go for the groups for the 8 year olds for sure. They will learn fast.
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jellyspoons wrote:
It's hard cos until we get there we won't know how much English would be spoken in ESF lessons.


At that level I don't think language matters much, probably mostly arm waving anyway. My eldest was fine starting in 100% French ESF class (at very French resort).

Most important is to sort comfort/snacks etc. Easter more likely overheat + need sunscreen.
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+1 for @Skimum1,
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I teach kids at the local dry slope. There is a big difference between the average 5yo and the average 8yo. The 8yo typically learns quickly and may get frustrated by the slower learning of their 5yo sibling. I would use the group lessons. The older 2 will make friends with their classmates and probably enjoy the group competitiveness. The younger ones will learn through play in the snow garden.
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tarrantd wrote:
I teach kids at the local dry slope. There is a big difference between the average 5yo and the average 8yo. The 8yo typically learns quickly and may get frustrated by the slower learning of their 5yo sibling. I would use the group lessons. The older 2 will make friends with their classmates and probably enjoy the group competitiveness. The younger ones will learn through play in the snow garden.

I think this is the way I'd go - and for the same reasons.
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I'd agree with others that, just from the physical development/body control POV there will almost certainly be a gap between the 5 & 8 year olds, which will mean either one pair being 'held back' or the other pair being 'pushed' too hard in a private group, so ESF would be a better bet.

I can also comment on EFS in Oz having been there with beginners a couple of times and I really wouldn't expect you to have any language issues. I've been both ouside school holidays and at Feb half term and we didn't have any problems with any of the ski instructor's English.
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My granddaughters, 7 and 9, were in ESF classes through Club Med in Samoens at half term and the language spoken did not cause any issues at all. There were three other English girls with the 7 year old, but the 9 year old was the only English member of the class, the rest being French. The instructor spoke to her in English at appropriate times, but the French girls were apparently brilliant at translating/demonstrating etc and it made for a good experience. My daughter had been a bit iffy about the classes as larger numbers than she would have liked for the girls but delighted with the way it turned out.
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Quote:

At that level I don't think language matters much

This!
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Wow thanks so much everyone, that's all incredibly helpful. Esf group lessons it is!

I think I'm projecting my memories as a teenager of being in ESF lessons where the instructor spoke French with the occasional -"We go!" in English. Sounds like this isn't as common these days!

I also remember being so muffled with layers of clothes I couldn't really talk to the other kids... Eh oh! I guess Easter skiing will be a bit of a different story to what I'm used to!
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 You know it makes sense.
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We just had a week in Austria, first time skiing for our 5yr old and 7yr old boys. They had joint 2hr private lessons. My thoughts from this.

In private lessons they will get alot more skiing and instruction and probably progress faster. They did 2hrs dry ski slope before we left and end of week instructor taking them snow plough turning down blues.

After 2hrs private lessons they were both exhausted! We had a 2hr lunch/ rest break then either skied another hr or 2 or something else.

Would depend on your child's personality 9lif group is fine or too much. We chose private as they def want to be together and wanted them to enjoy 1st experience as.much as possible, which they loved it. Private instructor was great with them.

We're off on the family bash at Easter and have them down for 3hr group lessons this time and will be interesting to see how they progress, if same rate or older starts to move ahead with a bit more stamina. Older certainly more interested in proper turns Vs younger who has tendancy to bee line it more!
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Totally agree on the language too - my 9 year old son was one of a group of 11 (!) and the only non Swiss German speaker at half term - his skiing still came on enormously (from a go for it style on blues to a tidy parallel on all red slopes) - even if the instructions were not always translated with the same degree of precision..!
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Group lessons booked! Excited!

Interesting to hear your experience @noodlehat too! I definitely want them to experience private lessons when they're a bit older
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Just had my two for their first taste of skiing.
Four and a half year old hated the group ESF, only went twice: Realistically, too young for it.
Ten year old had two 1 1/2 and two, 2hr private lessons; one on one.

She came down the red into St Gervais on Thursday afternoon.
Private lessons were worth every single Euro.
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My two kids 17/13 now both out ski me. We had shared private lessons pre covid. Hand on heart..the mix of abilities killed it. Don't be disheartened about the 4 year old.. they've not been walking long!! Enjoy the resort, sledge, build a snowman and have fun. Chances are they'll be kicking your ass before long
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In the late 80s I remember ESF being three levels: beginners, inters, advanced. That could and did make for some challenging range of ability within groups. I don’t remember moving groups but maybe it happened.

When I put my daughters in Andorra groups for a week, during the week they would move children up or down groups according to their relative abilities.

If that were the case here, you could start with them in the same group but they wouldn’t necessarily finish the week in the same group.

Hope you and they have a great time.
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@jellyspoons, Welcome to SH.
First thing people don't tell you is that there's no such thing as a fish - Well no such thing as the ESF ski school.
ESF is an umbrella which provides a consistent branding, methodology and pedagogy structure for many separate ski schools which are run as workers co-operatives by the instructors.
The culture & tone of these schools is set by the director of each, which is why people have radically different experiences of the ESF schools.
By and large the ESF schools linguistic abilities are roughly aligned to the historical tourist demographic of that resort, so if there's lots of international visitors, most instructors will speak some English, but where the clientele is predominately French, this will be less.
The number of classes and levels into which people are grouped will ultimately be a function of how many people are enrolled that week and how many instructors are rostered.

I remember one busy week in Avoriaz there were 6 non-beginner groups for afternoon lessons alone, so abilities were well matched.
As to whether they are suitable for your children - who knows. (Probably non even you).
FWIW our children loved the group lessons, they progressed very well, but they were used to being taught in small groups, as this is how they were taught at school, and the youngest had started with Piou-Piou when he was 2.5.
We did ask that they be split up to avoid sibling rivalry and so they would listen to the instructor rather than chatting to / fighting with each other.

They had some private park lessons for boarding which were good as they were at roughly the same level, but also a private lesson (3 hrs) with me and the Mrs which was not so good as I think we held them back a bit (lot).
The instructor focussed on things which we could all attempt such as butters, nose rolls slope side 180 / 360, green and blue kickers, etc.. rather than hitting the black and red kickers, and finding big drop-offs which is what the kids wanted to do - so it was more of a private group lesson.

From our experience Private lessons can work when everyone is of the same ability and wants to do the same thing, or if theres something specific you want to work on like moguls.

If skiing is about fun though, I think the kids enjoyed the group lessons more.
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@jellyspoons, with my instructor's hat on, I would say you have made the right decision for complete beginners - as others have said, there is a massive difference in
The learning progress of a 5 year old and an 8 year old. One more thing, this difference is even more pronounced if it's a 5 year old boy, and an 8 year old girl!
However, with my parental experience hat on, by the time our kids were on their 3rd holiday and they were 6, 7 and 9, they had a private 2 hour lesson every day. I'm not sure how much they learned technically (I wasn't an instructor then!), but they had a really good time, and seemed to make progress. I guess it probably did help that the youngest was a very competent little girl.
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Kids have very different capacities/inclinations to listen to instructors, rather than copying them. We had family group lessons at a dry slope in Ayrshire. The 10 year old got on fine with stuff like "weight on the inside edge of the downhill ski", whereas the 8 year old (who is a natural athlete and now by miles away the best skier in the family) just couldn't cope and we had to leave him out of the lessons. And it's not only age. Also the type of child and - dare I suggest it - gender. Girls listen more carefully and are often more focussed on doing what they are asked, and watching, rather than just hooning around.
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But instructors are really good on coralling the boys - and being absolutely strict about NOT being overtaken, for example.
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@jellyspoons And teach the kids to say "Répéter en anglais s'il vous plait" Smile Just in case
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That's a very good tip, @skitrack!

Interesting hearing thoughts from instructors and snowhead parents about the genders. I was thinking about this yesterday - i think you're all right that the specific kids' personality also has a big effect. Eg My 8 year old daughter has autism /aspergers and as part of that is an amazing visual learner - if she's relaxed and not worrying about social stuff she can copy a dance routine after seeing it once. It means she could progress very quickly, or, could get freaked out in the group setting and find it very stressful and not learn well. It's one reason I was initially attracted to the idea of a private lesson with a known nice teacher. Am crossing my fingers for a nice teacher in the esf class!

Her friend who is an 8 year old boy is incredibly distractable compared to my daughter but also he's very athletic and eg good at gym and ice skating. It will be interesting how he gets on too! I will have to update you all after we've been!
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I will have to update you all after we've been!

Yes, please do - always good to hear.
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Eg My 8 year old daughter has autism /aspergers and as part of that is an amazing visual learner - if she's relaxed and not worrying about social stuff she can copy a dance routine after seeing it once.

I taught a 10/11 year old lad a few weeks ago who had autism and ADHD. He hadn't skied before, but it was apparently his current fascination. They arrived very early and sat watching the whole of the lesson preceding theirs, which was also a complete beginner lesson. When it got to his lesson, he could tell me exactly what was coming next, the whole way through the lesson, having seen it once. I have taught a quite few people with autism over the years, but I hadn't seen that aspect of it before.
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