How to Prepare Your Kids for Their First Day Snowboarding
Getting your kids on a snowboard for the first time is an exciting feat! Check out these tips and tricks for making sure it's a flawless, fun experience!
Riders of all ages get excited for their first time snowboarding. But big challenges can come with taking our little people to the resort. So how can we make the most out of the kids' first day on the mountain and every day after that? By being prepared and making it fun!
Jackets and Snow Pants
First, proper outerwear for the conditions is key. Since kids grow so fast, you want to make sure you get the most value you can out of all the pieces they need to enjoy their treks to the mountain. Keep an eye out for items that have the room-to-grow option, like these GORE-TEX Burton bibs. They have hems in the legs that can be lowered by simply removing the stitching—adding 1.5 inches to the length.
Also finding waterproof jacket systems that are three-in-one. These are jackets that consist of an outer shell and a zip-in inner layer. These jackets are versatile and can be put together or separated to be warmer or cooler depending on the weather.
A good quality pair of snow pants is also a necessity. Your little shredders won’t be too happy if they’re cold and wet. Snow pants or bibs that have insulation and waterproofing should be top of the list, like the Burton pants mentioned above. Further, bibs offer a little more versatility than pants do. They are more comfortable and help keep snow from getting down the back of the pants.
Mittens and Face Protection
We can’t forget about the face and extremities either. Warm mittens or gloves with waterproofing and neck gaiters or hoods are important pieces. From my own experience as a parent, having two pairs of mittens and a few extra neck gaiters is a big help. Kids often lose their stuff or get them wet or dirty, so backups are a must.
For my children, mittens keep their hands warmer, are more comfortable, and are much easier to get on. Mittens with a pouch for hand warmers are particularly great on cold days. We also use mitten liners. They are a lightweight, thin glove that can be worn under the mitten on really cold days or worn alone on very warm days.
Helmets and Goggles
A quality helmet is the most important investment in your child's snowboarding gear. And there are many different helmets for children on the market. Several brands offer MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) technology. MIPS reduces the rotational force of a collision to reduce the chance of concussion.
Kids only need a simple pair of goggles to start with. Something they can wear on sunny or snowy days to help protect their eyes. Sunglasses may also be sufficient for just a sunny day, but a good pair of goggles also offer warmth. If your child wears glasses, there are goggles that fit over them. There are also some helmet/goggles packages that are pretty budget-friendly.
Choosing the Right Gear: Snowboard, Boots, and Bindings
Now that your kids have all their outerwear and safety gear taken care of, let’s talk about the snowboarding gear. Choosing the right set-up for your child isn’t too difficult. You have a few options for how to obtain their gear.
First, you may want to start with a day rental from the resort. The rental typically includes boots and bindings, and may even include a helmet. This will be fine for the first time or two, but after that, you should consider the other, more cost-effective options.
The next is a seasonal rental. Most ski shops offer season-long rentals that include a board, boots, and bindings. This is a great option for fast-growing children.
The last option is to purchase equipment. There are many great childrens’ boards, bindings, and boots on the market, and purchasing is a great idea if you have more than one child. Passing things down from one child to the next saves rental fees. And once all the kids outgrow that gear, you can always sell it.
To choose a board that fits your child, you should know their weight and boot size. You’ll want to choose a board that isn’t too large or too small. Most boards have a size chart to help you choose the size appropriate for the child's weight. Too large and your child will struggle to be able to make turns. Too small and they will quickly outgrow the board, and you’ll be buying another setup in no time.
You should also consider the type of snow that your child will be riding. If you have a lot of powder days at your ski resort, a slightly larger board will float better; while a smaller board is better for groomers. Boots usually fit true to size and are typically pretty comfortable. Bindings usually fit a range of sizes, just like adult bindings.
I’ve found Burton has great beginner boards for small children. The Burton Riglet Reel is a gem that is useful on and off the snow: you can get your little one comfortable standing and balancing on the board while you pull them around the house in the off season. And the Burton After School Special is a package deal with everything included at a great price. Brands like Roxy and K2 also have great gear for kids. Curated also offers an easy way to build a customizable gear package for your little shredder.
Backpacks and Gear Bags
Gear bags are super helpful in keeping everything organized and flowing smoothly. A bag that has a place for boots, a helmet, and outerwear is the best option. This will ensure that everything is in place and ready for a stress-free, fun day. Also, a small backpack with drinks and snacks will keep you from having to run into the lodge often.
Base Layers and Socks
Baselayers and socks are just as important for the kids as the parents. Wool socks that wick moisture help to keep the feet warm and dry throughout the day. Good base layers also help keep your kids warm, dry, and comfortable for a long day learning and shredding on the slopes.
Private Lessons and Group Lessons
So how do you plan on your child learning? Private lessons offer your child their own experience with a professional instructor who specializes in teaching children and making it a fun experience for them. This option provides a child with one-on-one time and the full attention of the instructor.
Another option is group lessons. This is a great idea for kids to have a fun and interactive experience with others at the same age and ability level. I suggest you arrive to the mountain early enough to purchase lift tickets in advance. Also, take into consideration the time it takes to get all the gear on and find the lesson meeting spot.
The final option is teaching your children yourself. While this can be a truly rewarding and fulfilling experience, it can also be stressful. You may also want to have your child start off with a few lessons, and then take over from there. Though, if you choose either private or group lessons for your child, you'll meanwhile have time to take some laps of your own.
When teaching your child to snowboard, terrain is extremely important. You want to make sure that you are choosing terrain that is appropriate for their ability level.
You wouldn’t want to take a child to a green trail on their first time. Instead, take them to the learning area which doesn’t require loading and unloading a chairlift. Your goal should be to start off small and introduce your child to the basics on the appropriate terrain.
Depending on where you live, there may be limited or plentiful ski-resort options. Checking out websites in advance and looking at trail maps and lesson offerings will give you an idea of how the ski resort is laid out. Check to see what kind of beginner area they offer and how much green terrain is available to advance on.
Pro Tips for a Great Day
Last but not least are my personal tips for making it a great day with your kids. For perspective, I’m a mom of three, as well as a certified snowboard instructor with a child-specialist certification and 13 years of experience teaching. Simply put, I get kids.
So now you have all your gear, let's make your first day and every day at the mountain great with a few tips. The first and most important thing is safety, and the second is fun. Make sure you are getting your kids a lesson or teaching them on terrain that is appropriate for their skill level as well as teaching them proper mountain conduct and safety.
Kids learn best when they are having fun, and you can achieve this by teaching your kids in a way that they connect with. Ask them questions about their favorite things, and then find fun and creative ways to incorporate that into the learning process.
Last but not least is pocket snacks! Kids get awfully grumpy when they’re hungry. Pack a favorite snack in a ziploc and stick it in their pocket.
Finally, if you have questions or need gear recommendations for yourself or your children, reach out to me or any other Curated Snowboarding Expert. We offer free and personalized advice to find the perfect equipment for your needs.
Have a fun and awesome first day.