Kindersparks is a program for kids ages 5-10. The program is offered Saturdays, from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm. Superstars are Saturday and Sunday mornings 9-noon. Safety and fun are major concerns especially when working with kids.
Both instructors must be very attentive and play a major role working with the children. You have to communicate well with each other and the children. Anticipate what all the children around you may need, not just the one you are looking at. Each instructor will have an assignment. If you are loading the carpets or rope tow, you should be in boots (snow boots may be best) and wearing insulated leather work gloves or using glove guards. If some of the children are progressing faster than the others, assign different tasks to keep the lesson fun. Each group will have a number, color, and/or name, so it is easy to move a child up or down.
Know how many are in your group, and tell them not to leave the group. Call them by their names and ask them if they are cold or if their boots hurt. Children often don't realize their hands, feet, or face are cold, so check them if you think there is a problem. If one instructor has to take a child to the bathroom, tell the other instructor or supervisor.
Using the carpet
Help children walk on and off the wonder carpets if necessary. Know where the emergency stop button is, and keep the proper spacing, especially the first time up so the instructor on top can help each one exit and get set up to ski down the hill. You have to work quickly and be aware of what the other students near you need. Support them at their hips part of the way down the hill if it is fast. Position them in a wedge if they can not make one. You have to interact with the students physically and help them to move, get into position, and not fall; this is a hands on job! Every minute you are looking for how you can help one of the kids.
Provide a gradual push on the back of their hips if the snow is slow, and be sure to aim them in the right direction. If necessary stand behind them holding their hips and use your feet to put them in a wedge. Use the wedge making tool, T- bars, tip ties, Ski Rings, or a hula hoop when necessary. Check the bottom of the skis if they are not sliding; there may be ice forming that needs to be scraped off. Use the other ski as a scraper; this may have to be done several times until the skis get cold.
If you are having trouble keeping your group organized, the instructor at the bottom can organize the group and load them all together rather than keeping them looping.
The top of the second wonder carpet at Pine Knob is steep, high, and slopes into the carpet. Like in student patch lessons, go to the rope after carpet one. If they can't use the rope, use the temporary exit ramp to get children off part way up the second carpet. Organize the group at the bottom and send them up together with space between each one so there is time for them to exit. Ask the public to wait for your group and leave some space for the instructor at the ramp to remove it before the public arrives. Each instructor will have a position, and if you execute it well, the lesson will go more smoothly.
Using the rope
Some days the rope can be too hard to grip, but it can also just be a case of loading the students better. At the rope, one instructor will load the rope and the other will help them exit. Have your skis off and support each child and the rope as necessary to get them going. This means standing behind them as
1- They get next to the rope and point both skis uphill
2- Slowly grip the rope
3- Catch them if they grip too fast
4- Push them on the back of their hips if necessary
5- Lift the rope up or to the side to keep them up if they try to sit down or lean on the rope
Video. Heavy leather work gloves will save your ski gloves. If you are working with the beginners, one instructor should be in snow boots to move better.
Feedback and tasks
Once kids can use the rope, have a set of tasks you will have them do, and know key points to verbally give them: hands up, look downhill, stand up on your toes, point your toes at each other and push your heels out. Show them and position them if necessary; you have to be very active physically and verbally. Concentrate on their performance and shape their performance by saying, "Yes, that is it, great job" as soon as they get it.
Do straight runs going down and touch the top of their boots, bounce, step from foot to foot, leaning forward and back; use a ski ring to keep their hands up, have them stand on their toes, do gliding wedges, wedge change ups, straight run to a stop.
Do a specific number of turns. If they can do 6, have them do 3 bigger ones. Then do 3 small turns, then 3 big in the same run. Reverse it and do the big turns first before the small ones. Have them turn to a stop in both directions. Can they point their toes to turn? Then try pushing on one big toe, then the other. If they still struggle, combine the two methods, point their toes and push on the big toe.
Stop and play on the flats when kids have trouble stepping across the hill when exiting the lifts, standing on the hill, or walking across the hill. Work with one ski on, or practice walking, side stepping, and static games. Flat work can be done at any time to add variety, competition, or to warm them up.
Progress at the proper pace so the children can stay in control. This means not going to the top of the second wonder carpet at Pine Knob, the steeper top of the rope tows, or the first chair until the children can link turns and turn to a stop in both directions. Be sure to show and tell the children how to use the chair, making sure they hold on during the ride up.
Coordination and behavior depend on a child's age, but this can vary greatly in individual cases. Use a lot of imagination and create games to make learning more fun. Take time to talk with parents so they know what you worked on and how their child did.
Connect- Get down on their level, look them in the eyes, smile, and say their name. Some kids have a hard time relating to adults or strangers, and some may not want to take a lesson, so be excited and let them know how much fun they will have. Ask them questions so they get comfortable talking to you. You might ask how old they are, what games/sports they like, do they have brothers or sisters, do their friends ski, do they have any pets, and what is their favorite game, show, or book. Your energy and personality are important. Be playful and have fun!
Problems- Take breaks when necessary especially in the cold weather to use the bathroom, get a hot chocolate, or play in the snow. You can’t fix every problem, but sometimes a break helps.
Props- Cone, brush gates, and stuffed animals are used for setting a slalom course. Use any of the tools mentioned above to help kids stay in control on steeper terrain or to help them walk or get up, but have them do most of the work if there is time. A Ski Ring will help kids keep their hands in the proper position.
Games- Walking and gliding on the flat with one ski, switch feet, and turn around poles. Walk with both skis. Statically, pretend to jump on a trampoline or diving board to develop a good stance. Side step, step in a circle, herringbone, exercises for all four movements (fore/aft, side to side, up/down and rotary). Create progressions: lean way back, then way forward, then just a little fore/aft, shuffle feet back and forth a small distance then large, slow then fast, big climbing steps, then run in place, step into a wedge, hop into a wedge, make them different sizes, go down and up, then do it so much you leap off the ground, hop fast small bounces, lift one ski and turn it, step around in a circle.
Straight run- Do the trampoline bounce in a straight run. Draw a line in the snow to jump over. Be a giant then midget. Put hands on knees or hips. Make grape juice with their shins by crushing an imaginary grape in front of their shins.
Stopping- Show them what to do so they see it first. If necessary position them in a wedge, have them go from French fries (parallel) to pizza slice. Make three slices in a row. Then make one stop half way down. Finally ski French fries all the way to the bottom (on the first wonder carpet hill).
Turns- start by skiing straight down the hill and make a very slight turn one way; then point the skis downhill, and then make a slight turn the other way. If necessary you can ski backwards and have them look at you. When they turn their body to look at you, their feet will turn too. Add speed and turn a bit more across the hill with each turn.
Make grape juice to turn - ski downhill in a small pizza slice; then pretend to crush a grape in front of one shin, go straight, then try on the other side. Or point the toes both one way then the other.
Do bunny rabbit turns- make a pizza slice; have everyone raise the same hand and hop on that foot. Ski downhill in a pizza, raise that hand and bounce on the outside ski, go straight, then hop on the other side.
Try playing follow the leader; you can ski backwards if necessary to coach them. Change the leader if the kids are getting it. One at a time, have the kids make a certain number of turns and count as they turn. Then change the number so they have to make either larger or smaller turns in a given distance.
Make three big turns then three small turns. Look at exercises for the more advanced groups.