Elementary School FAQ

The Rikert Elementary School Program Mission is to develop happy, self-assured and lifelong skiers and snowshoers.  We embrace and work with the natural curiosity of children, focusing on a playful, creative and relaxed approach to learning. We nurture mutual respect between student, teacher and nature.

Scheduling Lesson and Sizing Times

Please feel free to email Rikert (rikertnordiccenter@middlebury.edu) or Peggy Lyons (mlyons@middlebury.edu) or you can also call the Nordic Center at 443-2744 for assistance in scheduling.

 Tips on How to Dress

Multiple thin layers of wool or synthetic wicking fibers are the best. As we start moving along we build up a lot of body heat – the more we move the warmer we become. Beginning skiers will need more layers than proficient skiers. 


  • Long sleeved t-shirt / turtle neck made from thermal, wool or polypropylene. Wet cotton is cold.
  • Wool or fleece sweater / vest.
  • Jacket medium weight windproof, water resistant or water proof.
  • Hat should be fitted and large enough to cover the ears.
  • Neck-gaiter / Buff.

Bottoms: Thin snow pants / wind-pants over long underwear or warm pants is ideal.

Socks: Avoid short cotton socks.  Wear wool socks that are at least shin high. Warm toes = warm nose

Hands: Warm mittens are best, but gloves will work too.  A wind-shell type outer cover is perfect for cold days.  Acrylic has no insulating qualities. Acrylic knit or crochet mittens will leave kids with very cold, wet hands.  Felted wool mittens are the best. 

The Lesson

  • Circle time or gathering time is done before each lesson and is a quick time to connect with kids, check clothing, and remind them of important safety precautions.
  • Games, Relays and Obstacle courses are an important part of the curriculum when teaching children. They:
    • Help develop balance, agility, and stamina.
    • Allow instructors  time to assess skier skills as a group.
    • Work on the individual needs of some skiers and prepare the group for skiing on the trails.   
    • Are a great way to warm up.  By playing games such as: Drop and Roll Tag, Ranger Ranger / Sharks and Minnows, Simon Says, and Handball kids will forget the new challenge of moving about on skis as they become more focused on the game.
      • Two favorite games the kids play are Conquer the Hill and The Five Hill Challenge. “Kids are drawn to the hills like bees to honey. The beauty is that kids learn to climb and descend on their own volition – figuring out what works and what doesn’t. By watching their peers and attempting the same action, they take ownership of what they can do,” notes the instructing staff.
  • Trail Ski – Once fundamentals such as falling, getting up, striding and stopping have been learned, it is time to apply those skills out on the trail. Students will head out as a group with instructors and explore the fun of skiing along rolling terrain in and out of the woods. Students climb and descend hills, ski around sweeping corners and explore the natural world.
  • As instructors and adults, it is essential that we enable the kids to explore, giving tips to those who are struggling and guiding them to the next appropriate level.  Each new challenge raises their ability to do more and feel more confident out on the trails while awakening their natural curiosity.


Our Rikert staff are knowledgeable and eager to share their love of skiing with your kids. In order to facilitate learning and a positive experience for all, it may be helpful to share our expectations of both the students and the adults accompanying them on snow.

Arrival at the Center:

  • The students first gather in our Team Room, where they are greeted by a Rikert staff member. They are then organized by the teachers (with student information cards) into their groups which will be, or have been, determined by ability. This is a good time for making sure everyone is dressed appropriately for the day’s weather.
  • These small individual groups then move to the main building (groups of more experienced skiers are followed by groups of newer skiers) to receive their equipment and meet up with their instructors. During this time the kids help us by being orderly and patient, particularly when we have larger groups.
  • Once all skiers are equipped and lined up by the back door, the group moves outside with their instructor(s).

On Snow:

  • We gather kids in their group at the beginning of the class to review safety and basic skiing tips. During this time we expect the students to be attentive to the instructor, and respectful of their classmates and their equipment.
  • During the lesson, whether in the stadium area or on the trails, we aim for positive student attitude and staying together as a group as much as possible.
  • We very much welcome and appreciate teachers and parents joining us for lessons. With our direction, we may occasionally request assistance. In our experience, we have found that students respond best when they are learning directly from the instructors. For this reason, we request that parents join a group other than the one their child is in that day.


  • When the groups return to the center at the end of the lesson we ask that the students return their equipment in a safe and orderly manner, then follow instructions from their teacher for the departure process. Above all, we aim to leave the kids with a positive feeling.

Behavioral Considerations

  • We appreciate teacher and chaperone help with behavioral management during the lesson, as well as any time that teachers wish to spend reviewing expectations with their students prior to the class. If there is any specific language or strategies that are successful with particular students, please let us know, we are happy to incorporate them into our teaching. Any input and feedback you can offer is helpful. Thank you!

Weather and Cancellation Policy

We will head out in most weather conditions and at temperatures above 10 deg F.  We do take into account the windchill factor and the age group of the children.

If school is cancelled your lesson at Rikert will also be cancelled.  We work to reschedule as soon as possible.