All of you, without exception, will have done lots of research before selecting your child’s nursery or primary school. If you want a really successful family ski holiday exactly the same amount of effort has to go into looking at ski schools.
Avoid a ski school disaster: do your homework!
Thankfully there are lots of really good ski instructors who are passionate about teaching and able to communicate this to children in a really fun way. But equally there are many disaster stories. Excellent skiers don’t necessarily make excellent instructors, and as everywhere there will always be teachers who chose their career for the wrong reasons. As a British parent, how can you be sure you’re getting the best tuition possible? On websites and brochures they all look and sound the same. The choice can look confusing but there are really 2 basic options: Local Ski Schools or Tour Operator Ski Classes
This first blog post looks at the pros and cons of using Local Ski Schools.
Local Ski Schools
Private Lessons with Local Ski School: If you plan to ski as a family in the afternoons, this can work really well and can even be cost effective in smaller resorts. In the French Alps, expect to pay between 40 -80 euros per hour for one or two children. We would recommend 2 hours every morning .
Pros – Low season you can request a recommended instructor and are likely to get them.
Cons – High season the most popular/best instructors get booked out a year in advance. If children are very different levels you will need to book two instructors.
Group Lessons with Large Local Ski School: These can be very large schools and the most hit and miss option. The class sizes can be anything from 5 up to 14 or more, with the lesson in two languages and the range/standard of teaching (and love of children!) really varying from school to school. Although the grading system is done on the first day, if the children haven’t quite got their ski legs back, and the school doesn’t have the necessary flexibility, they can be stuck in an unsuitable class and under-achieve. In Europe prices vary from 100-300 euros per child per week for morning lessons.
Pros – None we can think of. There are some great instructors in these schools, but until the good ones sort out the bad ones it’s a lottery! The only way it will be a success is, if you are sure you will have one of the better instructors, and for that you will need some insider knowledge.
Cons – Too many to list. Judging this from all the stories we hear – the odds are about 50-50 your child will end up hating skiing. The size of class, mixed language and possibly having no siblings or friends in the class can be totally intimidating even for the most extrovert child.
Group Lessons with British/English-speaking Ski School: Fortunately there are now a number of smaller English-speaking ski schools who do everything possible to make lessons as much fun as possible. The English spoken is either native or fluent, class sizes are guaranteed smaller and children will be properly taught. There is still the chance that a rogue instructor has managed to exist in one of these schools, but less likely, as with smaller marketing budgets, their reputation is everything. The majority vote counts and any instructor not coming up to standard will normally be invited to leave.
Pros – Small, well-taught classes, excellent English and the chance you’ll find a real hero.
Cons – If they are good they will book up really quickly. You will need to book super-early.