Snowboarding With Kids Tips And Tricks

Snowboarding with kids can be the perfect winter family activity. We have been snowboarding with our kids since they could walk, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. “Snowboarding with Kids Tips and Tricks” offers gear recommendations and teaching tips to help your family get on the hill.

It is important to note that, as with anything kid-related, there are many different approaches to teaching kids to snowboard.

The tips and tricks outlined here are those that worked well for our family, but these are also the techniques that certified professional snowboard coaches are using to teach kids to snowboard. 

Snowboarding with kids can be an enjoyable and memorable experience for both you and your child. However, it’s essential to ensure their safety and comfort while making it fun and engaging. “Snowboarding with Kids Tips and Tricks” will help make your family shred time a great experience.

Snowboarding with kids tips and tricks

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Snowboarding with Kids Tips and Tricks

  1. Choose the Right Gear: Make sure your child has appropriate snowboarding gear that fits properly, including boots, helmet, and goggles. Comfortable, warm, waterproof clothing is crucial to keep kids happy.
  2. Start Small, Start Indoors: Begin with indoor snowboarding or snowboarding in the yard. Then, move to gentle slopes to help your child build confidence gradually.
  3. Create a Routine: Establish a routine that includes warm-up exercises, practice sessions, and fun activities. Having a consistent routine can help your child feel more comfortable and confident on the snowboard.
  4. Use Teaching Tools: Consider using tools like the Burton Riglet Reel to maintain balance and control. These tools can provide extra support and help prevent unnecessary falls.
  5. Set Realistic Timeframes: Kids tire quickly when learning to snowboard. In the beginning, it won’t be realistic to be on the hill all day. Aim for short outings and leave before meltdowns begin.
  6. Keep it Fun: Make the learning process enjoyable by incorporating silly games and /or treats. Ending on a high note will help positive associations with snowboarding.
Toddler girl sitting in the snow.

Snowboard Teaching Tools

There are several tools that I recommend to any parent who is teaching their kid to snowboard. These tools help teach important foundational skills such as balance, and they will help save your back!

Burton Riglet Reel

I’ve taught two toddlers to snowboard and I can confidently say this is the #1 piece of equipment that I recommend for success. The Burton Riglet Reel is a retractable leash (like those fancy dog leashes) that attaches to the tip of these Burton kids boards: Riglet Board, After-School-Special and Mini Grom.

When my toddlers were very young, like 1 year old, I actually used a Riglet Reel at the tip and tail. This method allows the parent to completely steer the snowboard.

For more tips on how to teach kids to snowboard, including instructions on using a Riglet Reel, head over to my How To Teach Kids To Snowboard blogpost.

Burton Riglet Snowboard

This hard plastic board with a built-in Riglet Reel is perfect for pulling your little one around the house, the yard or the neighborhood – snow or no snow! Best of all kids will play with this for years and years.

Tips For Snowboarding With Kids

Family drinking hot chocolate in back of car.

Encourage Independence

Kids love to feel independent. Gear like the Burton Step On system allows your child to easily and independently step in and go. Kids will love picking the run, or picking the skill that we’re going to practice on that run.

Timing

Timing can make or break the day, seriously! The best time to take kids snowboarding is when they are well rested with a full belly. This can be a really difficult combination to nail, but when my kids were toddlers we’d head out right after nap, and have snack in the car on the way to the mountain.

Car-to-Lift Tips

Getting from the parking lot to the lift can take a lot of time with little kids, and can leave you feeling tapped out before you even get on the lift. I suggest a sturdy plastic sled that you can load kids and gear onto. This is the sled that we use and love.

Pull them across the parking lot and right to the lift, and although you’ll break a sweat getting there, it will maximize your time on the hill.

Keeping Kids Warm

Girl warming up with hot cocoa.

Cold kids are unhappy kids, and it’s our job as parents to dress them for success! Baselayers, fleece, and insulated, waterproof outerwear are a start. But sometimes it takes a little extra to keep them warm.

Hand and foot warmers are a snowboarding staple in my house. I keep several pairs in the center console of my car, but getting toe warmers to stay in place inside snowboard boots can be a little tricky.

I suggest putting the warmer on top of the foot, round part over the toes. Make sure the adhesive side is nice and smooth with no bumps. Open up the boot as wide as possible to keep the warmer in place. We also highly recommend these reusable hand and feet warmers that are a lot less bulky (use code MTNMAMA for 10% off).

On epic cold days, I add a fleece helmet cover such as this Burton Burke Hood (make sure to get the helmet fit!) over the kids helmet. This added layer keeps the wind off their head, neck and face.

My last tip for keeping kids warm is to bring a spare pair of socks and change into them partway through the day. Little kids have sweaty feet, and keeping feet dry will help keep them warm.

Keeping it Fun

Keeping things light, silly and fun will help kids stay out on the hill longer. Games like follow the leader, red light, green light, dropping little treats for kids to pick up, singing songs, and carrying around “ice babies” are all at the top of my kids list.

Many mountains offer kid-specific areas with fun terrain features or interesting signage. If your mountain has these areas – go to them! Here is a list of Burton Riglet Parks in North America. These are fun snowboarding learning areas designed specifically for little kids.

Teaching Snowboarding: Balance And Edging

It can be overwhelming knowing where to start with teaching your kid how to snowboard. There are many variables and the learning curve is steep!

The following snowboarding with kids tips and tricks are considered “best practice” in the snowboard instruction world, and it’s exactly how we taught our two toddlers to snowboard.

The goal for ages 1-4 is having fun while sliding on snow, and for ages 5+ is all about independent edge awareness. Here the basic progression that we have used successfully for both kids.

It’s important to note that most of these tasks are much easier to do if you yourself are not strapped into a snowboard. It’s so tempting to strap in and shred with your mini-me, but your back (and your patience) will thank you if you hold off at least until they can stop independently.

A girl learning to snowboard.

Guided Discovery

Pulling toddlers around the yard (or the house) on a snowboard is a great start, and you can start them really young! Have your child strap in to the board (with snowboard boots or regular boots) and pull them around corners, up and over mounds and at varying speeds. If you don’t have the Riglet Reel, a strap works just fine.

At this point in the game, it’s all about exploring the environment. Point out icicles, snowboard underneath the trampoline, and under tree branches. As you do this, try to incorporate as much undulation (up and down terrain) as you can.

When your child can stay relatively balanced while being pulled on uneven terrain, they’re ready for the next step.

Straight Gliding

For very young kids and toddlers an assisted straight glide is most appropriate. Utilizing a short slope (10-20 feet in length), position your child directly down the fall line. Use the Riglet Reel (or leash of your choice) to manage their speed from behind.

Older kids will be able to balance themself enough for an independent straight glide.

We love the sledding hill in our neighborhood for straight glides, because there’s a slope that ends in a long flat runout. This allows your child to come to a standing stop independently, rather than having a “catcher” person.

It’s important to be careful with the distance you select as you move to an independent straight glide. 10-20 feet is optimal; you want your child asking for more, not less. It’s really easy to scare them off with one high speed wipeout, or speeds above their comfort zone.

Heelside Slipping

This is where things get really fun! Have your child assume a squat position, with their snowboard perpendicular to the slope. Stand in front of them to coach them down the hill. Words like stay low and lean back will guide your child towards slowing down.

Toeside Slipping

For toeside, your child can face back up the hill, in a crouched position, with their hands on the snow. Like heel side, the snowboard should be perpendicular to the slope. Ask them to try and slide backwards while keeping their hands on the snow.

The low, crouched positions on both heel side and toeside will foster a sense of safety.

Teaching Tips: Turning And Beyond

Boy with Burton gear sitting down with snowboard on.

When is your kid ready to link turns on a snowboard?

When is your kid ready to start making turns? It depends on the kid. Our son was perfectly content with heel side slipping until he was 5 years old. Only when he discovered tree runs were we able to coach him into linking turns.

Our daughter, on the flip side, is three years old and will likely link turns by the end of the season. Whatever their age, once your child is confidently controlling their speed on both edges, it’s time to move into turning.

Terrain Selection for Snowboarding Success

Have you ever found yourself getting pulled in one direction on your snowboard? That’s the fall line working against you.

A gentle slope is obviously the best terrain for a kid learning to snowboard, but it’s important to consider the fall line as well. Simply put, the fall line is the path that a free-falling object would naturally take due to the pull of gravity.

Choosing terrain with one, single fall line down the middle of the slope is the best option for beginner snowboarders.

Transition to Linking S-turns

Teaching kids to link turns is best done with your own snowboard off. You want to be able to control the speed and turn shape, and this is easier done on your own two feet.

To get the feel of turning toe to heel, and heel to toe, I like to hold both hands and slowly walk through a series of linked turns, then progress to holding just the leading hand.

Kids will quickly develop a “favorite turn”; for both of my kids, going from toes to heels was the easier turn. To help with the toeside edge scaries, encourage your kid to push on the front of their boots and get low on their toes.

Linking turns takes a ton of practice, especially with very young kids. Patience is key, and there is nothing wrong with holding their hands until they are ready to try it independently. Falls will happen, but it’s totally possible to minimize them.

Kids Snowboard Gear

The most important considerations when choosing snowboard gear for your child is fit and accessibility.

Gear that is properly fitted will keep your kid safe, warm and progressing on their snowboard. Gear that is accessible for little kids (for example boots with the BOA system or Step On bindings) will help your child feel more independent on the hill.

Kids Snowboards

Burton After-School-Special

This is a little kids beginner package that comes with a snowboard and bindings. Both of my kids started on Burton After-School-Special 80cm boards (the smallest available size), and it lasted them until they were about 5 years old.

The board is designed with slightly upturned edges, which makes it easier for beginners to ride a flat board without catching an edge. The board comes with Toddler Mini Grom bindings already mounted. This board is ready to ride straight out of the box!

Girl on a burton snowboard with step on bindings.

Burton Kids Grom Snowboard

The new Burton Grom Snowboard has a twin shape and flat profile makes this board great for kids just learning to turn. Us older snowboarders will appreciate the cool Craig Kelly Air graphics. The Grom Snowboard comes in 3 sizes: 110 cm, 120cm and 130cm.

Kids Snowboarding Boots

Burton Kids Zipline Step On Boots

Burton Kids Step On’s are great for kids of all ages who like to step in and go – independently! New for this season, Burton Grom Step On is for toddlers in boot sizes 11C-2K, and the Kids Zipline Step On is for bigger kids in size 3K-7K.

It’s important to note that this is a system – you have to have both the special Step On Boots and Step On Bindings for it to work.

The Kids Step On boots have a BOA system (no laces or straps), which makes putting them on and tightening a breeze.

Burton Grom Step On Boots

The Grom Step On Boots fit kids in sizes 11C-2K. These boots feature an inner liner and outer liner that fit lower on the leg, which is great for those super petite kids with little legs.

Closeup image of grom step on boots.

My daughter is 7 years old and she can handle the Grom Step Ons all by herself, even with big mittens on. The only difficult part will be getting her to wait while her mom straps in!

Like the bigger kids version, the Grom Step On boots feature an inner liner and a BOA system for tightening the outside of the boots.

Burton Grom Boa Boots

We love the Burton Grom BOA boots. Both of my kids have been wearing this model for years. The BOA system makes tightening the boots super easy and they stay tight all day.

They ride a little stiffer than the velcro-strap grom boots, which I appreciate as it make the boots more responsive.

Kids Snowboard Bindings

Burton Step On Smalls Bindings

The Kids Step On Smalls Binding is for kids in a shoe size 3K-7. This is a step on and go scenario, no straps to ratchet!

Burton kids step on smalls binding and boots.

A feature that I love about the Kids Step On’s is the adjustable highback. Kids who are just getting started will benefit from less, or no, forward lean. Kids who are more advanced will greatly benefit from more forward lean.

My 9-year-old son is wearing these Kids Step Ons this winter and he is beyond stoked to be able to step on and go – no sitting around fumbling with binding straps.

Burton Step On Grom Bindings

Brand new this year is a Step On system for toddlers in a shoe size 11C-2K, designed specifically for the littlest snowboarders who crave big independence.

Photo of grom step on binding mounted on snowboard.

The Step On Groms have no highback, which is intentional since the Step On Grom Boots boots are designed to offer plenty of support. There are two oversized levers, one on the heel and one on the toe, which makes releasing super easy, even for little hands in big mittens.

Using the Kids Step On system will feel the same as strap bindings – it’s just way easier for kids to get in and out of.

close up image of burton grom step on boots.

Burton Grom Bindings

Burton Grom Bindings have been a staple in our house for the past 9 years – since the kids started snowboarding at age 15 months. The Mini Grom fits boot sizes 7-13C while the Grom fits boot sizes 1-3K.

The one-strap design keeps their boot nice and snug, and there is just one big buckle to pull to unstrap. My kids could strap in and unstrap independently when they were just 2 years old using the Grom Bindings.

Kids Snowboard Outerwear

My kids truly love their Burton outwear, especially the one piece snowsuits. The kid wins are they stay warm and dry. The mom wins are the durability and longevity, thanks to the Room To Grow system. And you just cant beat those bright colorful patterns!

Burton 2L One Piece Snowsuit

Give the gift of staying warm, dry and looking cool! This is one of the only “big kid” one piece suits available on the market and for years this is all my kids have worn for cold Jackson Hole snowboarding days.

Girl in the snow with a snowboard on.

In my opinion, this is Burton’s very best product. They are easy to put on and take off, and they are warm and breathable. The suit comes in a Gore-Tex version at a higher price-point, but I have never wished I had the Gore-Tex version.

Burton Kids Gore-Tex Stark Bibs

If you’re looking for a warm and very waterproof pant once your child transitions out of the toddler sizes, this is it.

My son is on his second season of heavy use in the Kids Gore-Tex Stark Bibs and they are still warm and waterproof. The knees and seat have signs of wear and they look “thin”, and the bib straps have stretched out some, but with over 200 days of heavy use they are still going strong!

Author Sarah Toal

Burton Kids Powline Gore-Tex 2L Jacket

Boy wearing the burton Powline jacket.

This jacket is the BOMB. It was new last season and it has ALL the awesome features we love in grown up jackets that aren’t commonly found in kids ones. It has: Pit zips, powder skirt, chest pocket, pass pocket, outside and inside pockets, and a hood that fits over a helmet.

My son has worn this jacket on the coldest of Jackson Hole days, we’re talking 10 to 15 degrees below zero with wind and snow, and he stays warm and dry.

Sarah Toal

And should we get technical? This jacket is fully insulated with synthetic fluff on the inside, and 100% waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex on the inside. Seriously, this is the best kids jacket we’ve ever tried.

Kids Snowboard Gloves And Mittens

Admittedly, I expect a lot from my kids mittens. But cold hands (or cold anything) can quickly ruin the day. Here’s my must-have’s when it comes to mittens, and I’m happy to report that Burton mittens check all the boxes!

  • Kids can put them on independently
  • Keep hands warm and dry for several hours
  • Kids can strap their bindings independently with mittens on

Burton Kids Warmest Mittens

These are the warmest, driest kids mittens that we have ever used. Both my 9 and 7 year old wear them. They hold up well enough to use for two seasons and they have a lifetime warranty in case something goes wrong.

i Boy and girl standing with their snowboards in arm.

Kids Gore-Tex Gloves

This year, my 7-year old BEGGED me for gloves instead of mittens, so we got him the Kids Gore-Tex Gloves, size extra small. The fit is great, and the cuff still comes up nice and high to keep snow out. The inner liners don’t turn inside out when the gloves come off, and the fit is spot on. Not too big.

Kids Snowboard Baselayers

Burton Lightweight Base Layer Set

The Burton Lightweight Baselayer Sets are thin and have a silky smooth feel (silkier than Patagonia Capilene). My kids love the feel because it’s not bunchy under their snowpants.

The Burton Lightweight Baselayer sets do run big, especially the waistband in the pants. My daughter wore the 3T’s when she was 3 and 4, and now at age 5 she is wearing the 4T’s.

Burton Fleece Base Layer Set

Boy standing by the river wearing burton fleece.

Burton Kids Fleece Sets are soft, flexible and warm. They last longer than their counterparts and can be worn alone in 40/50 degree weather. They tend to run big so size accordingly.

Kids Snowboard Helmets 

Anon Kids Oslo WaveCel Helmet

Give your kid the gift of safety! The new Anon Oslo WaveCel helmet. WaveCel technology distributes impact to minimize forces to the head. It’s also extremely lightweight and comes in a few fun colors.

Girl wearing anon helmet and goggles.

Anon Kids Burner Helmet

The Anon Burner is warm and lightweight kids helmet at a great price point. If you’re not ready to splurge on the WaveCel, the Burner is a great alternative.

Mom and daughter with snowboards.

Snowboarding with kids can be an awesome experience for both kids and parents. It fosters a sense of adventure and exploration while nurturing a love for the outdoors from a young age.

The physical and mental benefits, including improved balance, coordination, and confidence, underscore the value of introducing kids to snowboarding.

Sure, teaching kids to snowboard is not easy, but with the right gear, a lot of patience and and a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be on your way to fostering a lifelong appreciation for nature, physical activity, and the spirit of adventure.

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© 2023, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

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  • Sarah Toal is a Colorado native who now calls Jackson, Wyoming, home. Sarah, her husband Evan, and two kids August, age 7, and Harper, age 5, spend their (long!) winters snowboarding, and (short!) summers riding bikes, floating on the Snake River, and hiking. Follow our adventures and general family chaos on Instagram: @sartoal

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