As your children get older, you will have the opportunity to share your passion for skiing with them and watch them learn and develop. Skiing as a family is a wonderful experience, being able to appreciate the incredible mountain setting while doing something you all enjoy, what could be better?! When skiing with children aged 5-12, you will also be able to enjoy more of the unique activities the mountains have to offer, from tobogganing to ice skating and even some amazing fun-filled swimming centres, all of which can be topped off with that age-old mountain family favourite – fondue!
Children aged 5 – 10 are likely going to be in the prime of their learning cycle, so it’s hugely important that you choose a resort with good, gentle, beginner-friendly slopes – from nursery areas to progressive green, blue and red runs. Resorts such as La Rosiere offer children’s slopes and fun parks for children, providing endless entertainment and giving them a highly enjoyable way to improve their skiing. It’s also a good idea to choose a snow sure resort at a high altitude, so that you can ensure they have the optimal snow conditions for learning. No-one wants to be making their first turns on ice!
As children this age will more than likely be spending quite a bit of their week having tuition, a resort with good ski schools is a must. France’s ESF is renowned for having the highest quality instructors, with many of these English speaking and experienced with British families.
You will also need to ensure that the resort has a number of off-slope activities, such as a swimming pool or ice rink, for evenings or afternoons off the slopes. A number of resorts offer tobogganing runs, bowling alleys and climbing walls. Some children will not want to ski all day, while others may have excess energy even after a day on the slopes, so it’s a great idea to research what the resorts you are considering have to offer in this respect. Resorts such as Avoriaz and Courchevel boast incredible aquatic centres which offer a huge amount of fun for children, from water slides to indoor surfing. Resorts with a number of indoor activities are ideal for those days when the weather closes in – children often don’t enjoy being out in a blizzard!
Car free resorts are also always a good choice. If you’ve ever tried to fight your family of four plus all your gear onto a packed ski bus, or cross a busy, icy roads little ones tottering in ski boots, you will understand why!
Resorts we love for this age group: Obergurgl, La Rosiere, Avoriaz, Courchevel, Soldeu, Les Menuires, Les 2 Alpes, Alpbach
TOP TIP – Resort choice is important, but you don’t want to break the bank, so shop around and seek out the best deals
What to Pack
Good, well insulated ski gear is a must for children learning to ski, but layers are also a hugely important aspect of packing for this age group. You’re not sure exactly what conditions the mountain will throw at you, so layers are the best way to prepare for all possibilities. Thermals, fleeces and waterproof jackets are essentials, with additional accessories such as buffs, bandanas and inner gloves also helpful to bring. Hooded clothing isn’t the best for layering as hoods can get stuck when trying to pull them on or off between runs, and you would be surprised at how easily snow seems to find itself getting stuck in the hood!
This is also the age where it seems surprisingly easy for smaller, loose items seem to get lost very easily, so spares of these items (hats/gloves/ski socks) are essential. It’s also a good idea to bring a fabric marker or a sharpie to label any loose items.
Skiing with helmets is now a given and is actually a legal requirement for children in some countries. You can now get some great children’s helmets that are highly adjustable to grow with them. However, you don’t need to buy a helmet – when children are younger, it’s actually quite a good idea to rent helmets instead. What you could buy instead is a helmet cover. These are super fun and offer a really entertaining way to personalise your child’s rental helmet so that it doesn’t get lost or mixed up. Plus, your child is sure to absolutely love being able to show off their cool new helmet!
It’s also a good idea to bring some of their favourite snacks from home. You can’t be sure what you will be able to buy in resort and bringing snacks from home means that you have a lot more choice. You can bring something you know your child will like, that will provide them with enough energy to keep them going until their next meal!
You should also bring activities for the evenings and transfer journeys, whether this is an iPad loaded with their favourite TV series, activity books, reading books or small, packable games. Whilst your children will probably want to spend a lot of their free time out in the snow, evenings and snowy days can call for indoor activities!
Childcare Options / Ski School
At this age, your child will be raring to get out on the slopes and this is the perfect time to start them off on their skiing journey. Indeed, it has been suggested that the best age to teach kids adventurous activities is before they are of secondary school age. This is because they tend to lack fear-of-consequences and the self-consciousness that many older learners do, so will basically give it a go without question!
Therefore, an essential element of your childcare plan will revolve around ski school. However, it’s important not to overbook ski lessons for younger children. Those new to skiing will likely get quite tired after a half day’s lesson, they are doing something completely new and it’s exhausting! You want them to love skiing as much as you do – something which isn’t as likely to happen if they’re tired and aching.
The most highly recommended childcare option at this age is an in-house kids’ club, which are provided by a number of tour operators and usually combine childcare and ski school, making that morning rush as stress-free as possible! For example, with Crystal’s Beanie Bear Club, Crystal childcare staff will get your kids kitted out in ski gear, dropping them off at ski school and making sure they are happy and comfortable within their group. They will then pick up your child from ski school, escort them back to childcare and look after them, allowing you to make the most of your time on the mountain. This sort of childcare is a comprehensive and flexible service, meaning that your children are fully fed, watered and entertained when not skiing.
Childcare for this age group will also need to involve evening activities, both for them and you! Not only will your child need entertaining in the evenings, but you may want an evening or two to yourselves, with childcare available so that you can go out and enjoy an adult meal. With the Beanie Bear Club, evening clubs are available (in selected properties), with themes such as pizza night, bowling and parties to keep your child entertained while you enjoy a relaxing evening. All Crystal staff are all UK-qualified, first-aid trained and DBS-checked, so your children are in safe hands!
To really ensure your children have a fun-filled holiday, you might want to travel with another family with children of a similar age. This means that you can split your own childcare duties between parents, and also ensures that your child has a friend to keep them entertained whilst they are not skiing. If you have a few families, you could hire out your own private chalet. This means you can let your children play, safe in the knowledge that you are always close by and no-one else is able to access the chalet. You will have your own chalet host to cook and clean, who will also be able to prepare dedicated children’s meals and afternoon teas to keep those little stomachs filled. Some companies also offer private childcare in these situations, which is ideal as it creates a home away from home environment.
Best Accommodation Options
With children this age, it’s a good idea to place more store by the location of your accommodation. With children that are going to be at ski school, it’s a good idea to stay close to the ski school meeting point. Ski-in, ski-out accommodation is ideal for families at this point, allowing the easiest possible access to the slopes. No-one wants a lengthy walk with their skis or a shuttle bus journey to the slopes, particularly not with kids in tow, so it pays dividends to get accommodation with a slopeside location.
TOP TIP – make sure that your accommodation has good boot room facilities (boot heaters are a must!)
- Prebook equipment hire – you can often save money by utilising offers before you get to the resort. Some shops and tour operators offer great deals, such as free child’s ski hire with every adult that hires.
- Visit a dry slope before you go. This will provide beginners with invaluable experience, such as how to put boots and skis on and the sensation of being on snow for the first time.
- Don’t feel guilty putting your kids in ski school! You (probably!) aren’t an instructor, so it’s a much better idea to get your children professional tuition if you want them to progress in the best possible way. Plus, you’re here to have a lovely relaxing family holiday and enjoy your time together. Though it’s not always the case, trying to teach your children yourself can be extremely stressful and can lead to both parties failing to enjoy themselves. A good balance is to have your child in ski school in the morning and ski as a family in the afternoon.
- An all inclusive trip is often much less hassle. If you have all your lift passes, ski hire, catering, accommodation and even childcare under one roof it will make your life much, much easier and is why many families opt for tour operators that can offer all of this.