Ski schools generally start lessons about an hour after the lifts begin running. Classes typically end an hour or so before the lifts grind to a halt. Take advantage of these two open hours to be with your ski-schooler.

Togetherness in the morning provides a wonderful opportunity to admire your child, to soothe any fears or uncomfortable feelings she may have about leaving Mom and Dad to join a ski class - especially for the first couple days at a new ski resort - and to spend a cheerful hour skiing before the class meets.

Children bond swiftly in a ski class. By the third day your child will probably be eager to join her classmates. She may act as though they’re lifelong friends. And they’re sharing an experience, sharing a joy, sharing each other.

Ski schools should keep the four - to eight-year-old ski bunnies in a protected area after their lessons end and until their parents arrive. If your children are like ours were, they’ll be impatiently anxious to take a last run with you and show you how much they learned in class that day.

They’ll also be overflowing with tidbits about what happened in class: who fell, who bumped into whom, what the instructor said.

There was only one occasion, when our twins were all of six, that I ignored my own advice about skiing with the kids before and after lessons.

It was because of the nefarious way the ski school at Chamonix, in the dramatic French Alps, operated. For the parents who wished, a little van arrived around 8 A. M. to gather the bundled-up young skiers and their gear from in front of their condos and drive them to the ski school for a cup of hot chocolate before heading for the slopes. For parents not on hand to welcome their children from the runs in the afternoon, the school drove them back to their condos at precisely 5 P. M.

We yielded to the gross temptation of missing our traditional one - hour, late-afternoon ski with the girls one day. Mommy and Dad succumbed to laziness.

Scrambling from the ski school van in front of our snow-covered condo that afternoon, the twins made no effort to hide their unhappiness over our absence when they’d skied down from the mountain to find us not waiting anxiously for a final run together. To soothe their hackles we set off for a walk along the snowy streets to a portable sidewalk stand shaded by an awesome green umbrella. Under it a cheerful young French chef, eyes sparkling, was cooking delicate crepes whose irresistible odor filled the evening air. Mom and Dad had theirs sprinkled with sugar and cognac. For the girls, a gooey chocolate filling.

They sort of forgave us.

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