I have taught kids and the number one thing you have got to do is make it play time. They can`t deal well with goal oriented training. It can be frustrating for a parent who wants to get their kiddo from point A through B,C and D to point E. That will suck the fun out of riding for the kid.
Understand that a kid will not and physically can not manipulate a snowboard the way that an adolescent or adult can; they have not developed the core muscles. They use whole body movements to control their board so understand that the correct body movements for an adult will never apply to them. They generally do not bend at the ankles and knees like we do and the concepts of using their feet independently to twist the board can be difficult for them. You will see a lot of rotary movements as they try to steer their board. When trying to improve them, don`t tell them to do the movements we use; they can`t and it will frustrate them.
A movement they can understand and actually perform in inclination. That is simply leaning back and forth on their toes and on their heels. Use this movement to get them to feel that as they pressure the heel and toe edge of the board it turns. This is big and when the kid experiences this aspect of control they will feel a sense of accomplishment. Along this line, kids generally love the freestyle aspect of snowboarding if they have any interest. Don`t be afraid to make a little pile of snow and let the little guy jump off of it. You wont believe how big of a thing catching 3 inches of air off of a "jump" is to a kid and how it stokes them. Let the kid explore things like this a little bit. Even if they cant turn the board or do anything but stay upright on it, make a little tiny ramp and let the kid fly off of it (obviously maintain good safety surroundings). They always giggle and laugh when the do even a tiny air.
The biggest problem you will likely face is that the kid will, once he gets used to staying on the board, go really fast without turning until he crashes. I see this with 90% of the kids I have worked with. Your biggest challenge will be getting the kid to learn how to stop and to pay attention to his surroundings. This is the one "task" that you do have to make sure your kid learns and understands the importance of. It does not have to be a boring drill, but before you can let the kid do more unassisted riding, they have got to be able to at least make a panic stop and know when to do it.
Again, because kids at this age have not refined precise motor skills, the stopping is going to be a massive rotary movement to spin the board across the hill to stop. Really focus on teaching the kid to lean back a little when they do this so they do not catch their toe edge when stopping. Just expect them to fall on the bum when they do a stop because again, they have not really refined that control yet. Falling like this really does not bother kids at all from what I have seen. Just stress that they need to be ready to do this if they are about to hit something or someone.
A great game for the kids when teaching them how to stop is "Red Light Green Light". You position yourself below the child on the gentle run and the game is that you are the traffic light. When you say green,m the point the board down the hill and go. When you say red, they turn the board and stop. Make it fun and give them a little reward for "not running the stop light".
Try to make each drill in learning a new and fun game. Kids generally have short attention spans so keep moving on to new things. Only spend about 5 minutes doing the same thing and move on to something new. It is all about play with kids this age.
If you have one, a Hula Hoop is an awesome training aid for teaching little kids. You can use it to ride together with the kid hanging on one side and you the other. They can also ride inside of the hoop and I have found there are many fun games for the kids you can come up with by using it.
Above all, make it fun and don`t set goals that the kid has to try to accomplish because if the goals are not met, some kids get frustrated with themselves and the activity. Take frequent breaks from riding and just play in the snow. Throw snowballs, make a snowman, whatever and also be sure to take plenty of inside breaks. I have found that kids can get cold quicker than adults and they may be afraid to say something. Keeping the kid warm and happy is a huge factor in their overall experience and can make or break them as far as pursuing the sport.
Thanks Snowolf! That is a wealth of info. Patience is the name of the game.
Have fun....reverse situation....my 18 yr old daughter (we learned to ride together 10 years ago), anyway she just took me out for my first bc splitty adventure...she was very patient, kept it positive, just gave me pointers, didn't get frustrated and we had a blast.
Very cool. I hope my boy takes me split boarding when he's old enough. Hopefully, I'm not dead or crippled by then LOL
Take lots of breaks, focus on fun, expect to only get a little time on the hill. Don't get too far away from where you start, turn back while the kid is still fresh so he's still got some gas for the walk from the bunny hill back to the lodge for that hot chocolate.
Thanks Lamps. Luckily for me Alpine Valley in WI put up a toddler ski area right in front of the lodge. This kid is gonna live on hot chocolate and snickerdoodles this weekend.
The kid is stoked about going he keeps asking me about it every day.