Last year, the preschool program started the first week in January. Since our next CCNS newsletter will come out later in January, it seemed best to include a preview of the program in our fall edition.
Being from Virginia, our family was excited when we were relocated to Utah and given the opportunity to experience the great outdoors and “winter wonderland” that make the Wasatch Mountains a destination to those interested in winter sports. My husband and I had enjoyed our annual weekend ski trip back East, but my last experience skiing in this part of the country was when I was in preschool myself and put in ski school with my cousins.
Our second son was born right before we moved to Utah, so we weren’t quite willing to take on the logistics of skiing with two little boys at home immediately, but with my ski school experience in mind, we were excited last winter when we were able to put our oldest, West, in the Brighton Preschool Program on Friday mornings in January. West had just turned 4. We were a bit unsure of what to expect. We knew it might be a challenge for our little guy since he was on the younger side and we still aren’t sure just how athletically inclined he really is.
We were immediately pleased we had decided to sign him up, and not because he took to it right away. He didn’t. He cried for a good portion of his first lesson. I could hear him from the cafeteria where I was enjoying a coffee and trying to get my infant daughter to take a nap. But I’ll always remember our conversation back down the canyon. He was curious about skiing and wanted to know what it had been like for me to learn as a kid and for his dad to learn as an adult. He told me about what was hard and what was scary. He liked the lift and his teacher and was eager to fill me in on all the details of his snack and time warming up with hot chocolate. And interestingly, he didn’t protest the idea of going back the next week.
Watching West struggle a bit, both emotionally and physically, yet ultimately grow through the 4-week class was a cool experience. He was uncomfortable and although he made progress, it wasn’t coming as easily and quickly as it was for others. The tears continued each week at different challenges, but he was always willing to go back. At the end of the month, we were proud of him for sticking with it and even choosing to sign up for another class on the weekends!
The experience also taught us how we could support him. We learned that taking a special snack was helpful and gave him a highlight to look forward to. And, not all that surprisingly to those that know West, what really got him hooked was memorizing the ski map we picked up for him in the lodge! He created his own goal of riding every lift at Brighton before the winter was up.
Our family has also enjoyed some unintended benefits of putting West in the program. The experience last winter has encouraged imaginative play in our house as he will play “ski school” with his siblings, directing his brother and sister through a lesson at the ski resort. It also sparked an interest in any and all ski maps, and he now has a collection of many of them that he is working to memorize.
My husband and I ended our first soiree into the Utah ski experience by taking West up for a ski day with both of us. West didn’t blow us away with his skills. He continued to go straight down every hill without any “s-turns” regardless of encouragement to just “try them.” He got scared after a fall on a steeper hill, but we learned as parents how to help him cope with falling. Skiing together was a highlight of my parenting experience thus far, and we are now looking forward to signing up our second son, Parks, this winter.
Since we were new to skiing out here, we learned a few things last year that might be helpful to those families that are interested in trying the lessons this winter. Here are a few of our insights:
- If you are interested in the Brighton Preschool Program, look for an email from Whitney Bunn in the next few months. These Friday classes are much more affordable than their weekend offerings.
- Pack a special snack for your child. I would encourage a snack that they don’t usually get.
- Consider getting a season rental of equipment for your kid if you are going to sign up for a series of lessons. We had to go get them the night before every lesson and it was annoying and more expensive. The season rentals go early, though (October/November), so look into it soon! Ski’n’See has an affordable option for kids and we found them pleasant to work with.
- Utah Ski and Golf has an option to pay a larger sum upfront and your child is guaranteed equipment until they outgrow the program – usually around the age of 12. You just exchange your rental when your kid requires a new size at no additional cost.
- Dress them as warmly as possible on forecasted cold days!