Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Cross Country Skiing With Kids - 5 Ways to Make it FUN!

I may have threatened to give my son's skis away the first time we tried to get out skiing as a family last year.  (and this year.)  I'm not that sure my son would have even missed them had I gone ahead and sold them.  "Promise, you'll give them away?"  "Promise, we don't have to do this again, EVER?!"  Pretty hard to threaten your child when they'd be happy with the outcome.

Yet, we persevered last year and by the end of the season, Noah had skied a 3km loop all by himself with no sled to ride in.  (A loop that had a fair number of hills on it as I recall.)  This year I am not giving up either.  The first couple of times out were shaky    (totally my fault), but things have improved greatly and we actually had FUN last week.  Real fun, with laughing, giggling, and smiles!  There is hope!  And what I've learned, I pass on to you.  Why should we all suffer after all?

Make sure you read to the bottom of this guide for an outdoor family ski link up.  I've included links to some other great stories written by families in the trenches just like you and me, out there skiing with their kids, and enjoying it.  Read my story, read their stories, and let us all know what you think.

Cross Country Skiing at Nipika Mountain Resort Last Winter

Cross Country Skiing Made FUN

One - Games, Games, and more Games

Everything is more fun when playing games.  Here are some of our favourite:

  • Ski Golf - Put brightly coloured golf balls in the ski tracks, one per track (or more if you really want to have fun.) Have the child kick the golf ball as they ski, shuffling as fast as they can to the next golf ball that they get to kick with their ski. My son's technique has really improved with this game (along with his speed.)

  • Fun Races - Can be played if you have a set of parallel tracks for two kids to race against each other (just make sure nobody is coming from the other direction and that you aren't stealing their tracks.)

  • Tag - Always fun.  Can be skied in or out of tracks

  • Red Light Green Light - Same as the regular version.  Leader calls out green light and kids ski.  Red light, they stop.  Goal is to make it to the finish line where the leader is, first.  Could be played in or out of tracks.

  • Football - Throw a football (or any ball) and have your child ski to retrieve it.  Keep throwing the ball in the direction you want your child to ski to move the pace along.

  • ABC Scavenger Hunt - Scatter ABC letters around a field and have your child/children ski around picking them up in order, A to Z.  This teaches them to bend over and stand up again and helps with balance.

  • Soccer - Can be played with a small ball that fits in the tracks (see ski golf above) or could be played in a field with no tracks.  Good as a team or individually between a child and parent.

To see a video of Ski Golf, follow this link to my YouTube video

Ski Soccer
Ski Golf
The goal of these games is to have fun, to associate skiing with fun, and to work on balance, coordination, and basic technique in a relaxed atmosphere.  Note that some children will be threatened by any game that involves competition if they tend to be of a more sensitive nature.  I know for my son, we have to remove the competition out of all games when he's learning a new sport.  Soccer can be a fun way to kick a ball around, chasing it around a field with mom or dad.  It doesn't have to be a full fledged game with nets and points.

Skiing with Friends - always more fun
Ski Football

Two - Build a snowman, do some sledding... - take a break!

When your child says they're done, it means they are D O N E.  Don't push it.   Call it a day and move on to something else for a change of pace.  We like to bring a sled with us and find some fun little hills to play on after skiing.  Other times, we take off our skis and build a snowman or have a snowball fight (off the trail.)  Snacks and treats are also well received at this point.

Snowball Fight!

Three - It's often about WHERE you ski

Would you enjoy skiing on old ice-crusted snow across a playground?  I know I wouldn't.  Yet somehow we think kids should be able to ski anywhere.  For myself, I like tracks and nicely groomed trails.  My son is no different.

Groomed Track Set Beginner Trails - A good place to begin

Other tips:

  • Avoid hills (try to find flat terrain for beginners.)

  • Look for a trail with interesting features, like you would do if you were going hiking.  We have a golf course here with little bridges and a good sledding hill.  It's our favourite place to ski during the week.  It also gets track set during the winter AND has plenty of golf balls to dig up and kick around. 

  • Choose a quiet place to start out.  A popular trail on a Saturday afternoon will get frustrating for you and your child when faster adults keep yelling "track" at you, and expecting you to bolt out of the way.  Again, we love our quiet little golf course that we usually have all to ourselves!

Golf Courses are great for lots of bridges and interesting features

Four -  Ski With Your child

It sets a bad example if you are walking in your boots, and yet expecting your child to ski.  Why should they ski if you are walking on the hard packed snow beside them with no difficulty at all?  I confess there are times I choose to walk (and make sure I have plenty of games planned) but for the most part, I try to ski alongside my son.

Five - Go with the right mindset

This one is all about you, the parent.  What are your expectations?  I know I set myself up for disaster our second time out this year when I thought my son could ski the same 3km loop he had done at the end of the season last year.  I pushed him too hard, drove him too far, and it was a disaster.  Surprise, surprise.  Lesson learned - start easy, go slow, and mange your expectations.  While I do believe in encouraging/pushing kids to do their best, there is a difference between challenging them and exasperating them.  Learn to know the difference.

Start Easy

Outdoor Family Ski Link Up

Family Guide to Cross Country Skiing - Active Kids Club

Teaching Toddlers and Preschoolers to Cross Country Ski - Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies

Cross Country Skiing for Kids - Tales of a Mountain Mama

3 Tips for Teaching Kids to Cross Country Ski - Nature for Kids

Teaching Kids to Cross Country Ski - Traveling Mel

Yes, You Can:  Start Your Kids in Snowsports - Traveling Mel

You don't need much snow to ski across a golf course

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for linking! You'll make a Nordic skier out of him, yet! My 5 year old is just starting to like xcountry skiing this year--yay!!