Last year, I thought our family shred adventures were epic. Well, this year I am blown away by the amount of fun we have as a family shredding all sorts of runs.
We also hit a huge milestone this year.
This season, our youngest daughter has learnt to carve! She is five years old and it was so amazing to see her confidence build up. Everyone cheered for her, including her big sister.
How to Teach a Kid to Snowboard
- Quick Tips on Teaching Babies and Toddlers to Snowboard
- Baby Snowboards
- Helpful Snowboard Training Tools
- Free Snowboarding Guide for Toddlers and Preschoolers
- Are lessons worth it?
- Tips to Learn How to Snowboard: Snowboarding Progressions
- Teaching Kid’s to Snowboard: Annika’s Experience teaching a five year old to carve
- Teaching Kid’s to Snowboard: Nancy’s Experience teaching a two year old to carve
- Teaching Kid’s to Snowboard: Christelle’s Experience Teaching Two Girls to Snowboard As a Beginner Herself
I am asked often how our girl’s started snowboarding so well.
Well, I wanted to really dive into teaching kids to snowboard and more specifically, how to carve and do s-turns.
If you are a snowboarder then you know that connecting the toe and heel edge on a snowboard is a huge milestone no matter the age.
I also decided to ask two snowboarding moms to give their input on teaching little kids to carve.
Nancy taught her third child to carve at two years old and Christelle taught her girls to snowboard while learning herself!
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Quick Tips on Teaching Babies and Toddlers to Snowboard
- Keep it fun. Sometimes they last for only 10 minutes and sometimes they can last an hour or two!
- Do not underestimate their ability, but also do not feel like they are not progressing fast enough. Each child is going to be different.
- Consider using a harness to prevent those hard face plants and help them learn to board slide and do the leaf quicker.
If you are just starting with your babies and toddlers, then make sure to check out these other posts first!
Baby Snowboards, do they exist? Yes, they do!
We recommend buying an 80 cm Burton After School Special snowboard.
For the size, I would not bother with a 70 or 75 cm board unless you can afford buying multiple boards. A one year old baby will not be able to turn anyways and an 80 cm board will last a little longer saving you money!
It has a special curve on the bottom the board to help keep babies and toddlers more stable on the board. It also helps them when they learn to board slide and carve.
Snowboard Boots for Babies.
It is really hard to find small enough boots, but with these bindings babies can wear hard boots like Sorels until they learn to turn or are board sliding consistently.
If your baby requires boots at the age of two then consider big wool socks. The smallest size of snowboard boots is a size 7C (which translates to a 7T) and in the Burton Grom Boot.
Find the Afterschool Special Snowboard here.
Find the Burton Grom Boot here.
Helpful Snowboard Training Tools
The Riglet Reel.
The Riglet Reel for a toddler or baby snowboarder is a great edition if you can afford the extra expense. We still use ours for our five year old!
Essentially the Riglet Reel is a cord that helps you pull your baby around!
Not surprising, but pulling a baby around on a carpet in the house or outside on the snow is the best way for them to learn balance on the snowboard.
Find the Riglet Reel here.
We taught both our kids how to board slide with a snowboard harness it was amazing they automatically learned how to board slide.
The harness for snowboarding also helped prevent hard face plants and keeps kid’s from flying down the mountain.
Snowboarding harnesses are best for little kids under the age of four. The strap typically attaches to the middle of the child’s back. A retractable strap is preferred and safer.
Start by wearing boots and have the string close to the child snowboarding. As they improve, let the string go out longer. Eventually you may feel comfortable snowboarding and skiing behind them.
Find the Lil’ Ripper Gripper here.
Find the MDXONE Harness here.
A hula hoop for snowboarding is another training tool that you can use instead of a harness. This video provides a great tutorial for using a hula hoop to teach snowboarding and skiing.
Free Snowboarding Guide for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Our Snowboarding Guide has some of our best tips and tricks for taking toddlers and preschoolers snowboarding!
How to Teach a Kid to Snowboard
Each child is different but I hope that the tips provided in this post help you teach your child to snowboard.
I have decided to give you my experience teaching our 5-year old to carve and also provide experience from two moms I met on Instagram.
Nancy has three children and all have learned to snowboard. The youngest one learnt to carve at two years old!
Christelle’s children were more like mine and learnt to carve consistently at the age of 5 years old.
Are Snowboarding Lessons Worth It?
Before I dive into teaching a kid to snowboard by yourself, I wanted to touch on lessons.
Sometimes a strong willed child can be a challenge to teach.
Sure, you can tough through it, but sometimes those lessons are worth it.
Lessons are a great way for kids to learn to snowboard and the instructors typically have taken courses to learn how to teach kids!
Lessons also can take the pressure off of mom and dad.
When I worked with Lake Louise last year, we were gifted two private lessons for our oldest daughter. She was already a fairly strong snowboarder on her heel edge, but could only occasionally connect her heel and toe edge.
She came out of the lesson carving like a pro!
It was so nice to have her in a lesson and not have to worry about teaching her. Afterwards, we were able to enjoy riding together without feeling like we needed to teach her.
Group lessons can also be beneficial.
They are less expensive than private lessons and some kids are motivated by the presence of their peers.
Tips to Learn How to Snowboard: Snowboarding Progressions
Not sure how to start teaching your kids to snowboard?
In this section I will break down the progression of skills that kids and adults need to learn how to snowboard. Some of the skills, kids and adults can more quite quickly through, while others can take some time to master.
Note: If you are teaching a baby or toddler then review the above sections first. Babies and toddlers progress differently.
Step 1: Figuring out which foot will be forward when riding your snowboard.
The standard test, at least when I was in grade 6, was to stand on both feet. Then, have someone push you lightly. The foot that you step forward with becomes your lead foot. If that is your right foot then you are in a goofy stance, and if you have a left foot forward you are in a regular stance.
Do not do this step with very little toddlers and babies. They just naturally figure it out on their own!
Step 2: Learning to move around on the flats.
Put the forward foot into the binding, then push yourself on a flat with your other foot. This can be done either by pushing with one foot behind or in front of your snowboard.
This skill will help you move to a lift and off a lift on the flats.
Next, practice pushing yourself on a flat a little harder. Then put your other foot in the middle of the board beside the empty binding. Knowing how to stand on the board like this will help you get off the lift.
Step 3: Walk up the hill and slide down the hill with one foot
With one foot out of the board, practice walking up the hill. The board must be horizontal with the hill. Dig the board into the hill as you walk of the hill.
Walk up a little ways and then try sliding down with only one foot in the binding and the other one on the middle of the board beside the empty binding.
Step 4: Practice Stability
Strap both feet into the board and practice standing on the board. Bend the knees and feel the board attached to your legs.
Step 5 : Heel Slide
Time to practice boarding!
At the top of a bunny hill, strap both feet into the board.
Get up with your bum facing the mountain and practice digging your heals into the mountain by lifting up your toes.
Make sure to bend your knees. The board should slowly move down the hill.
Step 6: The Leaf
Once you have figured out board sliding, it is time to practice directional control while board sliding. This is called the Leaf.
Point and look in the direction you want to go. A slight press in the forward foot (still using the heel to do the pressing) will send you in that direction.
Practice going back and forth on the heel edge this way.
Step 6: Toe Slide
Now that you have figured out the heel edge, it is time to try the toe edge!
While you are sitting on your bum, turn your body and lift the board in the air to end up with your stomach facing the hill.
Next, lift up yourself from the ground and pinch the toes into the ground like you are squashing bugs with your toes.
Slowly progress down the mountain.
Step 6: Turning from Toe to Heel and Heel Toe
Turning from toe to heel and heel to toe is the most challenging part of snowboarding!
Expect to fall, ALOT.
But, do not lose patience and keep on trying. Once you master this skill your riding really just keeps getting better and better.
The mechanics: From your toe edge, your board will go from the toe edge, to straight, to the heel edge.
To help you with the skill, have the front arm pointing in front. Look where you want to go. Then, as you turn to go from your heel edge, point your hand in the direction and look that way as well.
Your body should move with you. (obviously this is easier said than done)
From your heel edge, do the same thing. Point in the direction you are going. Then, turn point across your body and look in the direction you want to go and move to from your heel edge to your toe edge.
Keep Practicing. Then, practice some more.
Teaching Kid’s to Snowboard: Annika’s Experience teaching a five year old to carve
Our youngest was pretty much a baby when she started snowboarding. She stood on her first board at the age of one years old and our oldest was two!
When she was one years old we mostly just pulled her around with the Riglet reel or she went down a very small hill with low grade.
Once they were two and three years old we took them to a snowboard hill.
I loved the the harness helped prevent heavy faceplants and we found the pull naturally teaches them to board slide and do the leaf.
At four year’s old our youngest daughter stopped using the harness on steeper mountain runs. We went snowboarding about 10 times that year.
She was able to board slide, leaf down the mountain, and stop consistently really well. She started to connect the occasional turn but it appeared to be by accident when she did.
Only very occasionally did we practice the toe edge when she was four.
We just kept it fun and enjoyed riding as a family!
This year, she is five and learnt to carve consistently by her third time out. We also started riding different terrain include in the trees and even some easier black diamonds!
It was a huge milestone for our family.
My heart was so full of joy seeing her connect the carves for the first time.
It is not always easy though teaching kid’s to carve. Especially if they are happily board sliding down the hill without falling.
I mean who wants to fall down a bunch of times when you already know how to get down the hill?
Well, our five year old did not want to practice carving.
So how did she become motived to learn? She wanted to go places on the hill where learning to use both edges was important for safety. We could not let her go into some areas with her sister because we did not feel comfortable with her skill
That, with telling her that I would put her in lessons, encouraged her to choose a lesson with mom instead.
A Lesson with Mom
I took our five year old to the bunny hill and decided that we would practice our toe edge a little bit.
I tried to explain to her how to go onto her toe edge from her heal.
She still was struggling to grasp the concept.
I knew I had to find the one thing that would click and make sense for her to move her body. Her sister learnt by thinking about drawing in the snow but this analogy was not working for our youngest.
The trick that taught our 5-year old to carve
Eventually I came up with the “Hand that was holding the magic wand” and it clicked!
Her front hand was always holding the imaginary “magic wand”. She had to keep the “magic wand” in front at all times, and point it in the direction she wanted to go. I also told her to look the same way the wand was pointing.
We practiced this movement for 30 minutes together before joining back up with the rest of the family. We also used the markings the hill had set up like a slalom in the snow to practice carving from one side to the next side.
She really liked trying to “catch” them.
After her 45 minute lesson, we continued to snowboard together as a family. I did not pressure her to keep practicing, but occasionally would remind her to try a turn with her magic hand.
Occasionally she would try practicing and she even connected over 30 turns!
Lots of encouragement from the whole family has made her want to continue to carve and now she does it a lot easier.
Teaching Kid’s to Snowboard: Nancy’s Experience teaching a two year old to carve
Our family of five lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta. We make the drive to the mountains regularly, but our small local hills are where we all first learned to snowboard. We have taught all three of our kids to snowboard at a young age.
By the time we got to our youngest, James, we had figured out what worked for us and what did not work.
We started bringing James to the hill with us when he was 20 months old.
We have a Riglet Reel attached to the front of the board to pull him around the resort and when he gets stuck on a flat.
When James first started and until he was almost 3 years old we used a snowboard harness/leash (MDXONE) so that he could join the rest of us on chairlift runs. We also used the leash with our middle son, Henry, until he was 3.5 years old. Our oldest, Thomas, did not use a leash which meant we spent many weeks on the bunny hill with him.
Most lessons will start by learning to heel slide and move in a falling leaf motion. Our kids were not interested in this.
They wanted to point their boards straight down the hill and GO.
So, we started by teaching heel stops.
Once they could stop consistently, they were free to ride straight and fast on easy terrain with few people on it.
James learned to turn a couple months before he turned three years old. This was the result of being on his board somewhere around 60X in his first and second season.
Thomas, our oldest, is probably a more realistic example.
He started snowboarding at 3.5 years and learned to turn after being on his board about 10X. He was carving a couple months before his 4th birthday.
Rather than starting with full S turns, as they would in lessons, our kids started by making motions closer to carving. This was probably a result of learning to snowboard in a straight down direction rather than side slipping.
To help our kids learn to turn we practiced shifting our weight from our heels to our toes back and forth. We did this on skateboards in the summer and in just our snowboard boots in the winter. Then they moved that skill to their snowboards.
We also made sure to remind them ‘Look where you want to go’.
We kept our sessions short in the beginning. An hour or two.
Our favourite motivators are a small bag of mini marshmallows and lots and lots of cheering. Especially from older brothers.
The excitement the first time a kid makes a toe turn is the best reward for everyone’s hard work. Getting out as often as possible has been our secret to success. Even if it just a toboggan hill or a ramp in your backyard it is part of the path to getting out on the mountain as a family.
Check out Nancy and her family of snowboarders on Instagram @grice_groms!
Teaching Kid’s to Snowboard: Christelle’s Experience Teaching Two Girls to Snowboard As a Beginner Herself
I am Christelle, mom of Emma, nine, and Sophie, seven. I was born and raised in France and moved to Colorado eight years ago.
The girls started their snowboarding journey by standing sideways on a Burton Riglet Board.
They played indoors on the snow at home or at the little hill at 18 months and three years old. My main goal was to develop their balance and have them just love the days outside in the snow.
Their center of gravity makes it quite easy for them to balance. However, turning and stopping under the age of two is not possible.
During the first season, we never took them to any ski resorts or on any lifts. We relied on the Riglet reel to pull them around.
For fun, if there was snow on the ground, we would make a train and I would pull both girls to get the mail.
For our second season, Emma was four and Sophie was three and they started snowboarding using the After School Special Board by Burton.
I used a thrift store ski harness attached to our extendable dog leash with our youngest so I could take my oldest up a lift.
At four years old, Emma was able to go down a run on her own. She was able to board slide, do the leaf, control her speed, and stop.
Sophie was just going down with me while attached to the harness and practiced learning her edges.
We had around eight visits to the ski resort that season. On the last day, Emma was on the bunny hill trying to figure her turns and toe edge while Sophie enjoyed snacking and playing in the snow.
Because I was also new to snowboarding, I could not be really hold Emma or Sophie in my hands and turn with them to show them how to do it. Instead, I really had to rely on Emma to figure it out on her own.
On our third season, and probably one of my favourite season to date, both girls were a bit older and things started to become a bit easier. This includes all the pre-snowboarding activities like getting geared up, going to the hill, walking to the lift etc.
In all honesty, Sophie really hated the harness.
She wanted to be a big girl and independent. So, the first skills we worked on that year was learning to stop on the bunny hill without the harness. However, on very steep inclines, I still made her wear the harness. Then, I allowed her to snowboard on flatter runs without wearing one.
On day two of this season, Emma was linking turns. Slowly of course.
From there, it took 10 days for Emma to go from slow turns to flowing turns in the trees. I feel like I cannot take any credit for her progression as it felt like it just kind of happened.
Sophie was completely off her harness by day 5, so after learning from watching Emma, I was able to help Sophie working on her turns.
Sophie loves to dance so we used a “twirling” game to learn how to switch from toe edge to heel edge and again.
It was like spinning.
I would hold her hands and she would spin. She loved it. Still, she did not learn to turn yet until the following season.
The following season, Emma was six years old and a fully independent rider. She was able to ride all sorts of expert terrain.
Sophie learnt to carve that year but it did take some assistance. She had fallen backwards a few times while practicing her toe edge. She was nervous to try again.
I decided to try something new.
I put the harness back on and attached a bungee cord for biking called a Towhee to her chest.
We went back on the bunny hill and only practice her toe edge. I would hold the Towhee and catch her if she started to fall backwards.
I love using the bungee cord.
If she was leaning a little too far backwards, she had the opportunity to correct her movement by herself. I would only be there to stop her from falling. Without the Towhee, I would have helped her too much without allowing her the chance to figure out the movement.
It worked! After only 6 days she was linking turns on extreme terrain.
I want to add that learning to carve really depends on your kiddos too and their personalities.
My kids are more on the careful side. When they fall, getting back up takes time and brings more fears.
Emma figured out her turns in less snowboarding days total than Sophie. I think this was because she was older and able to control her body better. Don’t rush or push your kids.
Start them young to get the feeling of snowboarding. The balance of linking turns will come with fun and patience.
Check out Christelle and her snowboarding family on Instagram at @christelle_rm.
I have been writing about snowboarding with kids for a few years now! Check out our other snowboarding resources.
Curious to learn a little bit more about our family? Read more on our About Us page!