Mondays with Mary: What level is my child?

Posted in On the Mountain
by Mary on February 6, 2012

mondays-with-mary (mondays-with-mary)

How do you know what level lesson your child should go in?

First of all you should definitely speak with an instructor at your child's check-in area. They will know the questions to ask to help determine placement to start the day. Also if you do have a progress report card, or skills card from somewhere else your student may have previously participated, you should bring that along to morning check in as well. This information is valuable, and we encourage our participants to bring their skills cards back each day they participate. We like to add to those cards, and it sure makes it easier each morning at check-in when we have them to review.
We start out with some of the basic questions below:
"Has your participant ever skied or snowboarded?"
"Can the participant stop unassisted?"
"Can the participant turn in both directions?"
"How does the participant turn, big turns/little turns, and can they control their speed with turn shape?"
"If skiers, do they keep their skis parrallel throughout the turn, or sometime still make a wedge shape?"
Typically from here we go to "what terrain does your participant typically ride? Green, blue, black?"
Often we will inquire as to "how long since your partipant has last been skiing or riding?" This can make a difference too if it is their first day out for the season.
The one thing I would like all parents/guardians of our participants to consider is what we are trying to accomplish with our participants each day. "Safety, Fun and Learning" That is our motto.

"We are skills based in philosophy not terrain based."

Keeping our participants safe, teaching them how to be responsible for themselves while out on the hill is of utmost importance for all. Be that how to stop, how to turn, how to ride the lift, turn, where to and not to stop, and yes to become defensive for their own protection. We challenge our students with tasks not terrain.
Having FUN, yes it's not all about imporving their technical skills on the snow. We want our participants to laugh, meet new friends, try new runs, experience our mountain, meet our snowbugs, as well as learn a few new skills.
Improving skills is part of every day too. We are skills based in philosophy not terrain based. Skiers and snowboarders progress differently, and all individuals do progress differently. Depending upon what level a participant starts in, some will move fast and accomplish much in a single day, and the more advanced a participant is, on average, means their steps in improvement could be smaller and take longer to progress.
At day's end, ask the participant's instructor "where is a good place for the participant to go skiing or riding with me now?" Listen to their advice, the most damage done is when good intentioned parents or friends take our participant onto more challenging terrain than neccessary. Everyone can get defensive or downright scared when not comfortable on chosen terrain. Balance goes out the door immediately, and skill that was developed throughout the day. Sometimes, those skills along with the confidence and trust that was built over the course of a day can disappear quickly.
Don't push your participants, enjoy them and make sure they are safe and having fun - encourage them. This way they will grow to love snowsports like you do, or maybe even more! It may not be long before you are challenged to keep up with them.


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