Pre-parent life, vacation planning for my husband and I mostly consisted of determining just how much snow skiing, scuba diving, biking and other outdoor activities we could squeeze in. Nowadays, with littles to consider, trip planning looks very different.
While we’re grateful for childcare options that allow us to continue enjoying those activities together, we also look forward to the days when we’ll share those experiences as a family of four.
This brings me to my kid-related vacation inquiry of the season.
Now that my children are old enough for ski school, are they ready? If so, what are my options for multi-week lessons conducive to day/weekend-trippers?
Living here, we’re lucky to even have options. Nonetheless, we do. And having options prompted me to spend lots of time researching and pestering ski instructors for information.
So, here you have it. My countless hours of overthinking in one snippet.
Overthinking Question #1. Is my child ready?
Ski school starts as early as 2.5-3 years old. This is where pestering ski instructors proved most helpful. The general criteria includes that a child is potty-trained, can follow directions, and can skip naptime without meltdowns.
Last season, we asked about enrolling our oldest into an introductory class. He’d just turned 3. We were told “it’s likely your child will spend more time inside watching Frozen vs on skis”. This came after a review of his temperament and considering the other factors listed above.
The most consistent feedback? Don’t force it.
While it feels many kiddos in the 3-4-year age range whiz confidently down the mountain, the experts have gently reminded us that this is not the norm. Over-and-over, they have explained that the “sweet spot” is around 4.5-5+ when children are generally more mature and interested. In other words, how early to start lessons depends a lot on the individual child.
Onto close-ish ski school options for multi-week lessons.
In a dream world, private lessons near your personal ski-in-ski-out mountain home would be ideal. While that sounds lovely, we’ll focus on a few affordable beginner, multi-week options at small-to-moderately sized resorts within about 2.5 hours of COS.
Like most, my children love to ride the gondola. Interestingly, during our loooooong gondola rides, time-and-time-again skiers we met along the way recommended lessons at Eldora. Eldora has offered ski school for over 50 years, hence their worthy reputation. The Eldorables and Trek Alpine multi-week programs are designed for kids 4-6 and 7-14 respectively. Sessions are 2.5 hours long with 4-week, 6-week or 10-week options.
Monarch’s Caterpillar program is a 4-week, half-day lesson for 3–4-year-olds offered Fridays-Saturdays. The Butterflies series, for those 5-6, is uniquely designed to include an experienced parent. This allows younger children to experience the lift while accompanied by a loved one. Monarch Discoverers is an 8-week afternoon program for those 7-16. Prices include the child’s season pass. After completion, families may add additional 4+ week programs for the same child at a discount.
Copper offers two main multi-week beginner programs. For ages 3-5, Trailblazers includes a 3-week, half-day option Thursdays-Fridays. For those 4-12, Copper Ski and Snowboard offers full day sessions over a 3-week period.
For a super flexible option, consider Loveland Ski Area. Their 3-Class Pass provides half-day lessons for children 7-14. Families can spread out classes to accommodate scheduling preferences throughout the season. As a bonus, once a child has completed their 3 classes, they receive a complimentary season pass.
Well, that wraps up the snippet! And I’ve obviously left off countless options offered by several large resorts, which I’m sure are also amazing. Do you have a favorite? If so, please share!