Parent & Me Lesson - Ages 3-6
This lesson is designed for children 3 to 6 years of age and specifically for first-time and novice-level kids. This is a great way to introduce skiing or snowboarding with a parent assisting their child with the activities used to build skills and independence.
This is a 2-hour lesson that is as much about the kids having fun as it is about parents learning how to help their children grow to love snow sports. We’ll guide the activities with parent assistance through a “first day” experience up to a novice level, which usually involves learning how to make your first turns. Once kids can turns and stop on their own, which can take more than one day to achieve, they’re ready to graduate to a different lesson experience.
We’ll start out in our “Fun Zone” adjacent to Ballroom Carpet, learning how to put equipment on, walk up a small hill, glide down independently, as well as eventually turn and stop. Each child progresses at their own pace based on age and interest, with the goal being that all kids have a great first-time experience.
This lesson requires a lift ticket or season pass for the child. Parents can walk alongside the Ballroom Carpet conveyor with their child, assisting their child with loading and unloading, without a lift ticket. This lesson will help parents reinforce the learning that occurs after the lesson when you’re practicing on your own with your child. This lesson is not intended to teach parents how to ski or snowboard; parents are present to assist their child with the activities. You will be paired up with other parents and children of similar ages and ability levels with the same discipline – either ski or snowboard.
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Setting Realistic Expectations for Parents and Kids
You want your child's first experience to be memorable in such a way that THEY want to come back
Masks Required for All
Due to Covid-19 protocols, WHO and CDC guidelines, as well as the State of Oregon requirements for our operation, both parents and children in the Parent & Me lesson must wear a mask or face covering when a distance of six feet or more cannot be maintained. This includes the parking lots, inside lodges, in lift lines, while riding the Ballroom Carpet and other lifts and in all lesson meeting areas. Face coverings must fit over the nose and mouth for both parents and children. We experience young children who do not want to wear a face covering. It is our recommendation that you not force this requirement on your child, however, if your child is challenged by the face covering requirements they will not be able to participate in the lesson. Mt. Hood Meadows does have disposable face coverings if you forgot yours or yours is not fitting well or meeting the requirements of covering the nose and mouth.
Make it Fun!
This first experience for kids 6 and younger is designed to make sure they have fun! Learning to ski and snowboard for a child is play – don’t forget this! This is your opportunity to play with your kids. How many times do your kids ask you to play with them? Well, this is your opportunity! Play with them during this lesson!
While your goal may be to get them to link turns down Cascade Express by next week, you need to be realistic about your child’s skills, abilities, strength, interests, motivation, feelings etc. Some parents push their agenda onto the child’s lesson, but remember this lesson is as much about play as it is about learning … and at the Mt. Hood Meadows Learning Center we use a “learning through play” approach, so don’t be swift to judge this approach as we’ve found it to be very successful.
Listen to Your Teacher!
It is very challenging for children to attend ski school when their parents are within eye sight. In a group lesson setting we encourage parents to “kiss and go” just like at their daycare or regular school classes.
However, this lesson is different – you are part of the learning experience. This can be very hard for children to adjust to the teacher and the parent being in the learning environment. We are not going to be talking much – we are going to be doing and playing a lot, and we need parents to play with us.
Following the instructions of the teacher is very important. If our instructor is coaching you and your child to do one thing and the dad (or mom) says, “No don’t do it like that…” (yes, this has happened by the overbearing dad), if this happens, you are defeating the purpose of having your child in this lesson. If you are the expert, then we encourage you to teach your child on your own. If you are signing up for lessons and investing your time and money into the Parent & Me Lesson, then please let our teachers lead the lesson, be supportive in your child’s learning.
Our instructors have extensive training and years of experience teaching hundreds, if not thousands, of children how to ski and snowboard. We know how to engage kids, how to pace the lesson, what terrain should be used, where to go, etc.
While going straight down the hill without falling is a measure of skill competency, it is not a measure of whether you’re ready for Buttercup or beyond. Our methods and progressions are designed to help your child develop independence. These are life skills and when a child can do it on their own we celebrate!
We (and you) want your child to be able to turn on their own; we (and you) want your child to get up from a fall on their own; we (and you) want your child to be able to turn and stop on their own. These are examples of things we parents do FOR our children, but we want them to be able to do these things on their own. And they do too! They want to show you what they can do, and you want to express your enthusiasm for their successes.
Rewards for Trying
Kids of this age crave praise and rewards. Many times a learning activity will be followed by some play time without the skis or snowboard on. This is part of learning about their snowy environment - making a small snowman that we may use as a focal point to turn toward, or hike up the hill to the snowman. We’ll use Seymour’s Fort as a learning tool for hiking up into and gliding down out of the fort – Seymour’s Fort is part of our Learning Terrain Features for kids.
As we move up the hill from Seymour’s Fort we’ll encounter other features and props we’ll use to promote turning around, giving Seymour a high five and so much more.
Preparing for the Day
Checking the Weather: The most unpredictable part of your trip. Check out our current conditions and webcams for real-time mountain images and the Mt. Hood NOAA pinpoint weather forecast prior to your trip. Weather can change rapidly on Mt. Hood, so be prepared. You should always keep extra layers in a locker or your car just in case.
Bring Snacks & Water: Learning and playing in the snow, especially when it’s cold, burns calories so having a snack in your pocket and something to drink during short break times will be essential. Taking time to go into the lodge for a break during the lesson will take up valuable time, so pack a snack and water in a backpack to bring along during the lesson. Be sure to have a healthy breakfast before arriving for the lesson. Travel time to the mountain takes longer than normal, so a snack right before the lesson can also help you prepare.
Restroom Stops are Essential: We ask that all kids try to use the restroom before they come to our group lessons as potty breaks during the lesson cut into valuable teaching and practice time. Please stop by the restroom before coming to the lesson.
What to Wear: Mt. Hood weather can range from warm and rainy, to snow storms and sunshine. What you wear can make or break your day, and having the right gear is essential. The best way to stay comfortable is to think warm, waterproof and dress in layers so you can add or remove them if the weather changes. The Outer Limits Sports Shop in the South Lodge has a variety of clothing options and our team can help you in finding the right item for maximum comfort.
Base Layers: What you wear next to your skin. We suggest synthetic or wool materials rather than cotton, and to wear one pair of wool or sport specific socks that come up to at least mid-shin. Cotton athletic socks are not a good option.
Mid-layers: A mid-layer, such as a fleece, wool sweater or light puffy jacket is great if your outer layer doesn’t offer much insulation or for really cold days when added warmth is desirable. You can always take layers off, but you can’t add layers you don’t have!
Outerwear: Your jacket and pants are your outerwear. The most important thing is to choose waterproof and windproof options. While there is snow specific outwear, rain jackets and pants can work great with layers underneath until you invest in a snow specific outfit - again Outer Limits Sports Shop has some great options.
Accessories: Waterproof mittens are best for kids since they’re easy to put on and take off. Gloves are fine for adults, and both are essential for keeping hands warm and dry. Eye protection is very important in the mountains due to the harmful glare of the sun on the snow. Goggles offer the most warmth and versatility for all conditions and are always our recommended option. We always recommend wearing a helmet, which can be rented in our Rossignol Rental Center or purchased at the Outer Limits Sports Shop. They are warm, waterproof and provide protection.
General Goals for the Day
Play and have fun!
Want to come back
Feel secure in the mountain environment
Respect the mountain & others
Balance (both static and in motion)
Control speed and stop
Want to come back
Build playfulness – play with your child
Allow independence – don’t be swift to help, let your child try
Respect the mountain & others
Allow the teacher to teach – instructors know best practices for skill development
Provide assistance after a fall- only when needed
Know and share the rules – The Responsibility Code
We hope this information will help prepare you for a successful Parent & Me lesson. Fun fact: parents who introduce skiing or snowboarding to their children before the age of 10 are most likely to continue skiing and snowboarding as adults. Skiing and snowboarding are great winter activities that get you outside and can help you stay healthy.
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