Skiing like a Turtle & Healthy Dose of Perspective when it comes to Learning

I was introduced to skiing in eighth grade. Too be honest no part of it came naturally, and I was a very timid skier.  I remember not trusting my right knee and a bad fall that only made me ski even more slowly.  After finally deciding to take a lesson my frustrated instructor told me to go faster. My younger brother — a kid who loved speed — asked me if I was okay and I told him about my knee. My brother decided to be my hero and yelled at the instructor to leave me alone. I then proceeded to slowly snow-plow my way down the bunny hill.

I would not ski again for many years and, when I did, once again found myself getting harassed by better skiers as I slowly made my way down the mountain in a state of terror. Let’s just put it this way, when videos were made of my family’s ski outings, everyone else had hard core rock and roll music and my skiing was accompanied by the sound of crickets.

I knew everyone was always having to wait for me at the bottom of the hill for up to 15 minutes depending on how many breaks I had taken. Every day, I left the mountain exhausted, sore and bewildered that people thought skiing was fun.

My husband was determined to get me some proper help to see if the skiing curse could be lifted.

Finding the right Ski Tutor!

A small glimmer of light started to shine, when I was given the right equipment and the right instruction. On my first run, I was instructed to ski down the mountain to warm up and get the feel for turning on new skis. It was the first time I had ever felt even close to stable on skis. I didn’t know that was possible. I just assumed I would always be a completely insecure skier and I accepted that lot in life. In this case, I loved that I was wrong. Go figure.

My instructor was kind and patient. He broke things down and then noted where I was actually doing things right. I am always a little mechanical when I learn, so I had to over-exaggerate the moves. He realized I was thinking too much, and my timing was off, so he had me think about one turn only and leave the second one as a free-for-all. What a big relief! I was starting to enjoy myself — still sprinkled with a bit of terror, though.

Slow your roll!

Being a student who worked at a slower pace, I always took more repetitions to understand reading and math.  Ironically math is one of my strengths; I just needed a tutor to explain concepts in different ways, so it stuck. My experience as a school student and my more recent experience as a ski student got me thinking…. Are we adults slowing down enough to really see the skills our kids have? And are we certain they have the right equipment?  Dr. Jerome Shultz, neuro-psychologist and author of “Nowhere to Hide: Why kids with ADHD and LD Hate School and What we can do about it,” goes into insightful detail on this topic. He discusses how students with slow processing can have gaps in their learning and he explores  the different mindsets that can be tied to this situation. Watch his video here.

Let go of what you think it should look like!

Are you getting frustrated because your children are not learning as quickly as you think they should? No matter how much people told me to go faster on my skis, I went slower as the pressure piled on and I was lucky if I remembered how to breathe. When things aren’t going well, or if our kids are stuck, we must change the pace and reframe the problem?

Can you make it more fun?

How can you slow down and make things a little more fun for your son or daughter? For instance, imagine he misses words or even sentences when reading. No worries just let them start again and reread it with them. And, no sounding it out! That still gives me the heebie jeebies! Let your teachers and reading tutors do that type of work. Your job is to make reading fun so just say the words they struggle with and let them keep going. Read stories they might find interesting, even if they pick a book above their reading level. Read to them using special voices for the different characters. This habit could become a fun little evening ritual.

Are your kids reluctant with math? Figure out how to make it practical. When I moved across the country from Virginia to Colorado, I gave my sons two different math problems to help me figure out the least expensive way to move west. Was the math at that time a little beyond the skillset of my youngest? Absolutely! He still had an opportunity to participate when we talked through all the options. He was very attuned to the how the move might affect our dog as we had to figure out how we were going to ship him across the country.

After many, many years of seeing skiing as a form of torture I am pessimistically optimistic with the right skis and the right help that I might be on to something. So, next time, your kid is slow to learn or gets frustrated, or turns into a puddle, ask yourself, what happened right before? Do they have the skills, the right equipment, or do you need to slow down because it’s going to take them a bit longer to get there?

I know when I ski with pretty much anyone, people will still have to wait for me, I’m okay with that. It’s just nice to know I can now have a little fun with a spoonful of fear.