ULTIMATELY, PARENTS WANT TO SEE TWO THINGS: THAT THEIR KIDS ARE SAFE, AND THAT THEY ARE ENJOYING
THEMSELVES. KIDS WANT THEIR PARENTS TO SEE THAT THEY’RE HAVING FUN AS WELL.
before speed, but snowboarders need [a certain amount of]
speed to build skills.” This holds especially true when age
differences enter the picture. “It’s hard for kids to perfect a
high edge angle at low speed,” he said.
To mix things up and make sure the young ones are
thoroughly entertained, he’ll often take kids into a tree run on
the side of a trail, while the parents stay within sight on the
trail. “That way they can see their kids learning and having
fun, and know that they’re being safe,” he said.
In addition, he finds that younger snowboarders need
more hands-on instruction. “I’ll often teach more to the kids,
and then have mom and dad follow along,” Macri said. He also
stations the parents behind the kids, so if they crash the kids
won’t necessarily see it. “Sometimes parents want to feel like
they’re better than their kids,” he said. “Plus, if their kids fall
they can ski up behind them to help out.”
Ultimately, parents want to see two things, he added: that
their kids are safe, and that they are enjoying themselves.
Kids want their parents to see that they’re having fun as well.
To that end, Macri often creates small competitions between
parents and their children to help boost kids’ confidence.
When parents take lessons with their older kids, he treats the
children more as peers instead of placing them on a stage in
front of their parents.
NOT ALWAYS SMOOTH SAILING
But it’s not always as easy as the proverbial pizza pie.
“Teaching families is a challenge,” said John Peppler, a PSIA-
certified Level III alpine instructor (and vice chairman of
PSIA-AASI’s board of directors) who has taught skiing at
Michigan’s Boyne Highlands since 1974. “Mostly this is due
to the ‘family dynamic’ that comes from being in the same
lesson,” Peppler said. “Everyone has different goals, which can
impede learning to some degree.”
Peppler said the best thing to do in this case is cater to
the least-skilled student in the group. “You have to proceed
at the speed of the slowest student regardless of each family
member’s individual goals,” he added, citing a potential
family lesson in which dad raced in high school, mom has
little experience, the son is a hockey player, the daughter
isn’t athletic, and the youngest is locked in the “death wedge.”
“This type of situation occurs when unprepared instructors
approach a high percentage of failure,” said Peppler. “You
have five different individuals with five very different ideas of
what their expected outcome should be.”
The trick, he believes, is to just make sure everyone
has fun, while still meeting the needs of the group’s least-
experienced member. This can be done through games,
contests, demonstrations, and more.