Between the ages of 6 and 12, children generally spend about 40
percent of their day with their friends. In terms of sports, during
the spring and summer, roughly half a million boys between the ages
of 9 and 12 participate in Little League. In a more general arena,
both girls and boys engage in a wide array of different kinds of
games as young children.
Children spend enormous amounts of time playing.
Children's ski school programs, while not often considered, can
be an important arena for children. In the view of the late noted
psychologist Jean Piaget, it is partly through games and the
resulting negotiation and resolution of disagreements that children
learn to interact better with others. Games can teach girls and
boys to play cooperatively, to play competitively, to maintain self
control, to balance personal desires with social rules, to expand
social skills, and to accept and understand the importance of
rules. Children's programs, in general, offer the opportunity for
children to explore their place in different social situations.
Indeed, children's programs can offer children an important way to
learn to negotiate, compromise, and to learn to develop
Look over the children's programs at your ski area. Do children
play cooperatively? Does the program balance cooperation with
competition? Are the staff enthusiastic? Is there an adequate staff
and student ratio. (Ideally, one instructor for every 4 to 5
children is good). Do the staff encourage rules which reflect a
philosophy of moral education? In other words, are the staff
sensitive to children who push, hit, or steal? Just as schools have
certain rules which govern conduct and etiquette, so too,
children's ski programs can (and should) encourage a level of
conformity. Under the watchful eye of a responsible, knowledgeable,
adult, children can develop in responsible ways.
Many parents know this, of course. But now, ski school has begun
to recognize this too. Learn which programs you think will be
appropriate for your children. The games of childhood can
teach children a great deal.
Contributing Writer Tony Crespi is a former ski school
supervisor and development team coach. Keenly interested in
children's programs, his column is published throughout the