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Monday November 7, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

Learning the sport is not just fun, it helps boost child development.  That's the message from family ski specialists, Esprit.

Getting children on skis when they're young has many advantages we can think of.

Kids learn quickly.  They will probably get to be very good, if they keep at it.

And, while they're in ski school, the parents are free to explore the slopes too.

That's just a few reasons to be going on with.

But there's more to it than that, according to PlanetSKI partner Esprit, which was named Best Family Ski Tour Operator in this year's Family Traveller Awards.

Esprit Ski lessonsLearning to ski with Esprit














It's all about the 5 Pillars of Learning - and how skiing meets their requirements.

So what are they?

1.  Social

Firstly, there's the social aspect of ski lessons. Children meet new people - both other children and adults -  and learn how to interact with them.  They also get to learn simple new phrases in a foreign language.  Esprit gets the kids singing and playing while they wait for their instructors each morning which they say helps to break the ice, especially on day 1.

2. Physical

The physical requirements of skiing help children to develop co-ordination, balance and spatial awareness.

3. Cognitive

Then there are the cognitive skills a child will have to master in the course of learning to ski. They need to concentrate and remember the specific techniques they are being taught.  Navigating down a ski run, they will not only be using their newly-acquired co-ordination skills, but be making decisions constantly to keep themselves upright and safe.  They will develop awareness of other moving and stationary objects.

4. Confidence

As they improve and learn new things, the sense of achievement will boost their confidence. 

5. Fitness & Health

Finally, skiing will positively affect children's fitness & health, improving balance, core strength, heart and lung function and strengthening leg muscles.  Daily exercise also improves sleep. 

Esprit uses these 5 pillars to shape all its ski lessons and childcare options.

Esprit Spritelets lessonSpritelets














Spritelets lessons for 3 & 4 year-olds are orientated towards fun and play, and introduce the youngsters to wearing ski boots and skis.

Sprite Lessons are for children from age 5 up.

There are also other on and off-snow activities for kids, and the 5 pillars are applied to each of them.

Esprit off-snow activityOff-snow activity














Full details can be found on the Esprit website

"We see hundreds of children each season," says Liann Thomas, Esprit Child Care Operations Manager, "and it is clear to us how much they develop as youngsters during their ski week.

"It is not just their skiing that improves but their ability to understand directions and implement them, physically doing things with their bodies that perhaps they have never done before. 

"Whilst having fun in our activity clubs they are learning social interaction skills without knowing it and developing their ability to learn and play alongside children they have never met before. 

"By the time we say goodbye at the end of the week both we and their parents can see how much they have benefited from their time with us.  And when they cry when they say goodbye - we know we have done it right!"

In the past, parents sometimes successfully used the perceived educational, behavioural and physical benefits of skiing to get permission from headteachers to take their children out of school for ski trips.

The strict ban on term-time holidays introduced in 2013 put a stop to that. Until, that is, the High Court ruled in favour of a parent who was fined for taking his daughter out of class.

PlanetSKI has followed all the developments.  You can read our most recent story here.

The controversy is rumbling on.   

The Department for Education is backing a challenge to the High Court ruling in the Supreme Court, while new research appears to undermine the government's stance.

According to an article in the Times Educational Supplement, 2 scientists have independently concluded that authorised term-time holidays have little impact on primary pupils' attainment and may even be linked to better performance in tests. 

It's a hugely polarising issue.

Whatever your view, PlanetSKI says - if you can take your kids skiing, do it!

In years to come when they're racing for Great Britain,  or landing a double cork 1080 in the park, you can remind them how it all began Wink

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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