By the time your children reach the age of seven, the quality of their instructors is far more important than the size of the learning area or the indoor facilities. Now the kids meet with the ski school instructors at a designated outside area - almost always separate from where adults taking lessons meet.

Groupings are based on two factors: age and ability. The 7s-to-10s or -12s are separated from the teenagers. But naturally. Would your teenager even consider being in a ski class with a seven-year-old? Within the age groups, children are broken into classes based upon skiing skills. Never-evers are always in a class by themselves.

The normal ratio of instructors to students in the older age groups is 1:6 for the never-evers, and perhaps 1:8 for others. Never waste money putting a young learner in a class of more than eight skiers, whether the ski school lasts for a week or a weekend.

In the seven-and-older bracket, the usual routine calls for a couple hours of ski lessons in the morning; a cheerful, noisy lunch with the instructor, generally in a reserved section of a base lodge or on-mountain restaurant; and an afternoon of more lessons.

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