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Discussion Starter #1
I know I'm getting an early start on this, but I was hoping to find out at what age you can start getting kids into snowboarding? My little one is only 8 months old, but my husband is eager to get her into it (yea, she can't even sit up on her own yet...) I'm hearing conflicting things... 3, 5, 7, 10? Start first with skiing, then move to snowboarding?
What do you guys think, and when did you start teaching your own kiddos?
 

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I don't have have any kids, but I can give you my impression from the instructor side of things.

At the mountain I taught at, the policy was the kids had to be at least 5 or 6 before they were allowed to take snowboard classes. This is due to the development of improved muscle mechanics/balance that happens a few years after the little one starts to walk.

3 years old was the limit for skiing, but that's because all the child needs to do is stand comfortably. Also with skiing, they can use that little bungie thing that holds the ski tips together to prevent runaway 3 yr olds all over the hill. Nothing like this is available with snowboarding, so the child needs to have better muscle mechanics and balance to be able to make turns/stop.

I would suggest starting your child in ski classes, just to get them some slope time at a young age. This will get them used to the "uncomfortable" gear that many kids get annoyed with. It also lets them get used to sliding on the snow, and decreases their fear when it comes to getting down the hill. It also gives you the opportunity to ride... :D Then, when they hit 5 or so, throw 'em on a board and they will be teaching YOU how to ride in only a few years... I'm always amazed when I see a 8 year old ripping down an intermediate run, throwing 180s and trying to grind on every little tree branch he can find.

In the meantime, grab one of those little, plastic sled style boards (basically a plastic sled shaped like a snowboard, no bindings, just sticky pads to stand on and a rope to grab) and let your kid slide around on it while sitting. Like any adventurous child, they will probably try to stand up on it at some point... --> Pelican Space Scooter Snowboard : Target

kinda like the above, only with a rope instead of handles.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I don't have have any kids, but I can give you my impression from the instructor side of things.

At the mountain I taught at, the policy was the kids had to be at least 5 or 6 before they were allowed to take snowboard classes. This is due to the development of improved muscle mechanics/balance that happens a few years after the little one starts to walk.

3 years old was the limit for skiing, but that's because all the child needs to do is stand comfortably. Also with skiing, they can use that little bungie thing that holds the ski tips together to prevent runaway 3 yr olds all over the hill. Nothing like this is available with snowboarding, so the child needs to have better muscle mechanics and balance to be able to make turns/stop.

I would suggest starting your child in ski classes, just to get them some slope time at a young age. This will get them used to the "uncomfortable" gear that many kids get annoyed with. It also lets them get used to sliding on the snow, and decreases their fear when it comes to getting down the hill. It also gives you the opportunity to ride... :D Then, when they hit 5 or so, throw 'em on a board and they will be teaching YOU how to ride in only a few years... I'm always amazed when I see a 8 year old ripping down an intermediate run, throwing 180s and trying to grind on every little tree branch he can find.

In the meantime, grab one of those little, plastic sled style boards (basically a plastic sled shaped like a snowboard, no bindings, just sticky pads to stand on and a rope to grab) and let your kid slide around on it while sitting. Like any adventurous child, they will probably try to stand up on it at some point... --> Pelican Space Scooter Snowboard : Target

kinda like the above, only with a rope instead of handles.
Excellent advice! I will pass this along to my husband. I was thinking the same along the lines of skiing first. Gets them used to falling, balancing, etc.
 

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I guess I don't have any real value to add, but I have a 5 year old and she just started skiing this year. She has had 3 lessons so far, and has really picked it up quickly. She can turn pretty good now, and is progressing very well. Besides that she really loves it, and is always asking to go ski. I'm probably going to let her ski for a few years and I'm hoping she will then be asking to board.

I also have a 2 year old and I'm hoping to get her out on ski's next season. Just as BigmountainVMD said, they both have sleds and we bought them a little cheap snowboard that is a piece of junk, but they can slide down a little hill behind our house and they both love that, sometimes they sit, sometimes they try to stand.

Every kid is different, my 5 year old needed to wait until she was 5, because she is more timid, but my 2 year old has no fear at all, and I think she will be ready to try ski's out next year.

In any case I want them to learn ASAP so we can all get out there and have fun together. I just started snowboarding last season, and I can't get enough. Hoping my girls will do the same!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I guess I don't have any real value to add, but I have a 5 year old and she just started skiing this year. She has had 3 lessons so far, and has really picked it up quickly. She can turn pretty good now, and is progressing very well. Besides that she really loves it, and is always asking to go ski. I'm probably going to let her ski for a few years and I'm hoping she will then be asking to board.

I also have a 2 year old and I'm hoping to get her out on ski's next season. Just as BigmountainVMD said, they both have sleds and we bought them a little cheap snowboard that is a piece of junk, but they can slide down a little hill behind our house and they both love that, sometimes they sit, sometimes they try to stand.

Every kid is different, my 5 year old needed to wait until she was 5, because she is more timid, but my 2 year old has no fear at all, and I think she will be ready to try ski's out next year.

In any case I want them to learn ASAP so we can all get out there and have fun together. I just started snowboarding last season, and I can't get enough. Hoping my girls will do the same!

Great advice also. I know skiing is easier to learn than snowboarding. My husband might just have to live with it that she might ski first. ;) I don't know how timid she'll be, my husband pushes the bar with her a lot...she's the only 8 month old I know that giggles when he red lines it in his WRX.
 

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It depends on the kid. I got my son on a board a month after he turned 6off and he picked it up immediately. He could ripstick and skate around 2-3. Start getting her on a board of some sort early and it will help
 

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My daughter will be 3 in March and we got her on skis this season...our local hill won't take snowboarders until 5/6 much like the post above but will take skiers at 3. We know the GM of the mountain and she told us to bring our daughter out this year. We signed her up for their pre-school program and she has loved it, asked all week long if she could ski and when we went to the hill last night to pick her brother up wanted to go out (but it was near her bed time).

I guess I would suggest going with the 3 on skis first program. Or in your back yard on a board like the videos on youtube.
 

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I'm currently going through this experience with my middle and youngest boys. My oldest got me into snowboarding when we took lessons together just a couple years ago when he was 8. Ever since then, the younger two have been begging to go, but I was reluctant to let them since I was worried they lacked the necessary coordination and balance. I was afraid they might get frustrated and end up soured on it. I finally let my middle son try it (age 4 at the time) and was shocked at how easily he got the concepts. Late last season I let both younger boys take a couple lessons while we were up at Jay Peak. The youngest was 3 and they only offered skiing at that age, but he had a blast even though he basically only got to the point of going straight down the bunny slope for a few feet between falls. My middle son also tried skiing, but actually found he had an easier time with snowboarding. Just last weekend, I took my youngest son (now 4) for his first snowboard lesson, but the school got confused and put him in skiing. He had fun anyway, but wants to try snowboarding the next time.

If you can, I'd let them try both and see what their preference is. I know some places offer skiing a little earlier, but I suspect some of that may just be that skiing is still more popular and has been around longer. Aside from the fact that getting around on flat areas is easier and more natural on skis, I can't see much difference in difficulty in the mechanics of doing the basics of either one properly (though admittedly the extent of my skiing experience was one lesson several years ago). Most places I've seen won't do lessons for anything before age 3 or 4, so I would imagine that is a good guideline, though obviously kids vary in their development so some might be ready sooner, and some later.
 

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I started my kid on a board at 1 year old. I purchased a burton chopper 90 cm and three pair of boots (11, 12,13). I know it is easier to start a kid on ski as many have said, but I am not the type to take the easy way out. At 1 year old, I would make a snow trench (I lived in Minot, ND)and let him go down. The trench was at his waist so if he fell, he could not fall down. At 2 year old, I started taking him to local sledding hill and pulling him around the neighborhood with a rope. At 3 I would take him to ski resort on the magic carpets. At this point he was able to go down 50 yard at a time without falling. Now my son just turned 4 and we are working on going down on toe side edge. He is progressing quite well. My goal is to get him on a green run end of season.

But I think you must gauge your kid. My kid has always been extremely active and a rough kid. At 3, he was able to run about a mile with me on my workouts. He would run about 1/4 mile consecutively. On the other hand, my son has a small attention span. He sees no point in stopping. All he wants to do is go fast like Lightning McQueen.
 

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You can go younger and more undeveloped with kids learning to snowboard currently then you have ever been able to do in the past. Gear for the little ones has improved so much just in the last three years that the old established rules of thumb have been breaking down. I personnally have taught kids as young as 4. I have also taught 10 years old that are less developed then some five year olds. The importance of proper gear becomes more and more important the less development a child has. The most important thing in young kids is just learn to love to slide on snow. The learning doesn't matter as much as the playing and enjoying a snow sport.

If I had a kid I would first go with skiing ages 2-5ish, and then 5ish get into boarding unless my kid wanted to try it out. In which case they are getting all the best gear(board, boots, bindings) I can find. Both my wife and I teach both disciplines so lessons would still be in the cards for the kids. We would probably teach them sometimes and then put them in lessons other times or other free-ride programs once their ability level increased. Once they started to express a full desire for one sport or the other I would let them do that most of the time. However, there would still be days on the other equipment to foster a round capability for being on snow. There would be no continual pushing into racing and competition programs. However exposure for a year to one would probably happen. If they choose to keep with it then so be it. The support will be there. Exposing children to the possiblities in the world and also getting them to keep with a possiblity for a set period time I believe is an important character building experience. I guess I add this section just to show a long term view.
 

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In some ways it doesen't matter what age...I see 2 year olds have bindings between dad's legs on his board and they are cruising, dads skiing with babys on their chest or back back cruising. A bud I ski with, grew up on the hill because his parents were patrollers and he started his kids at 2 walking around the house and backyard with boots and skis; and had a couple of kids hitting green and blues the 1st and 2nd day out because they were used to balancing and walking around with skis on. My daughter started boarding at 7 is now 17; but that first day in the rain she would not quit...she apparently had something to prove; at 14&15 she gradually switched over to new school skiing (and some of her friends grew up on strict race team stuff and she has already surpassed them in bombing and ns stuff) perhaps because at about 9 or 10 she just started mobb'n with the crew...so kind of developed an aggressive keep up with the boys attitude. So she has 50 days so far this season. This past weekend (fri, sat and sun) she rode...only had a 1/2-2 days riding the past 2 years but by the end of Sat she was back mobbin and keeping up with both skiers and riders. So point is just get them out there to have fun and it doesn't really matter how good or fast they progress...at least they are not at the mall or sitting on their ass giving you a bunch of grief.
 

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I started my daughter off skiing rather than boarding for 2 reasons, i was told by Aus and NZ mountains she couldn't get lessons at 3 yo and i was told its better to start them off skiing so they can get better faster and enjoy the mountain experience.

We put her in for 2 half day lessons in NZ and that was it until this past xmas we went to Breck and put her in a full day lesson. Then the next day i took her up with me on peak 9 and she did really well for her 4th day on skis. She continued to ski with me for the next few days and now she is confident enough to go slowly and controlled down blues (albeit not paralleling).

Here is a link to her skiing.
 

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My daughter just turned 7 and I thought I was a bit late in getting her onto skis/snowboard. My original plan was to get her on skis this year, but when I took her to the store to shop for skis she insisted on a snowboard or nothing. I shot this video last week, it was her 3rd real day on a snowboard. I had her in lessons for a couple of days, she learned a bit from the lessons but I'm having a hard time getting her to turn or slide toe-side. She is having fun so far though and I think that's what counts at the moment

 

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Discussion Starter #16
These vids of the little ones on skis and snowboards are so cute! Thanks for all the tips everyone. Sounds like people are in agreement to really start them young, if they're ready, on skis first. Start them on something easier just to get a feel for the mountain, the equipment, etc. She won't be old enough for anything for awhile. She'll only be 2 1/2 for the Winter of 2013, so we might have to even wait for the next winter.

Thanks again!
 

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Youngest I've seen is 15 months it really comes down to balance and finding a small enough stick for them. Don't worry about boots shove them in kiddie boots. The other thing is taking them down the mountain on the bunny hill between your legs my friend Erik does this with his 2 year old and did it with his 3 year old. Basically get a stomp pad have them stand on it wrap their arms around your leg while you hold on them and just go real slow down the hill.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Youngest I've seen is 15 months it really comes down to balance and finding a small enough stick for them. Don't worry about boots shove them in kiddie boots. The other thing is taking them down the mountain on the bunny hill between your legs my friend Erik does this with his 2 year old and did it with his 3 year old. Basically get a stomp pad have them stand on it wrap their arms around your leg while you hold on them and just go real slow down the hill.

Wow, that's so young! So if she's acting ready, she might be able to go next year? (she'll be 1.5years) This seems to be pretty solid advice, to put them on your own board. Gives them a good feel, but not having to worry about falling yet.
 

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Yeah we thought it was young but his daughter was walking months before the others. What solidified it was we put her on my longboard and she figured out how to turn it herself while I held her hand.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
That's really unusual for girls. Usually it's the boys that are more "motor" than the girls, who are usually more social at that age.
 
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