5 Steps for Teaching Kids to Ride a Bike (And Pitfalls to Avoid)
posted by: Guest Blogger
Remember when you first learned how to ride a bike on your own? You wouldn’t stop talking about it. All your uncles, aunts, cousins and neighbors had to know. It was the first thing you told them immediately after meeting them and exchanging pleasantries. You were proud of yourself and rightfully so because riding a bike is one of the most important skills anyone can ever learn. It gets better with the fact that once learnt, you can never forget it.
Going back to the experiences you had while learning, you can only sympathize with yourself. It was probably hard for you because you had to learn on your own, or with the help of someone who was not so patient with you. Your kid does not have to go through the same experience. You only have to take the following tips into account.
- Choose the right bike and place to cycle it
Most parents make the mistake of buying a ‘large’ bike with the hopes that the kid will eventually grow into the bike. This is quite unfortunate as the learning process can easily be slowed down. The best way to go about it is to get the correct fit. All you have to do is make sure that your child can comfortably stand over the top bar or tube with both feet firmly planted on the ground. The goal here is not just comfort but to also make sure that the child feels in control of the bike.
Choose the ideal place; go for a traffic-free area. The goal is safety of course. With a traffic free area, your child will feel confident and have an easy time on the wheels. The ideal place should be flat and spacious. It should also be paved and dry. An empty parking lot, a driveway, a school park top or even a park path make ideal spots for teaching a kid how to ride a bike.
- Prepare the bike
This should be easy. The bike should have brakes that work. This is important for pretty much obvious reasons. The pedals and the chains should also be in good condition. Then for extra safety, ensure your kid has a helmet.
Keep in mind that comfort is essential when learning how to ride a bike. If the bike is slightly big for the kid, lower the seat so as to make it easy for the kid to sit upright. The bike should also be steady.
- Scooting and coasting the bike
Begin by letting your child scoot on the bike. This will go a long way to help him or her balance the bike. Once he or she is good at scooting, you can challenge him or her to coast the bike. Hop on to your own bike first so as to demonstrate how to coast with legs outstretched. You can introduce a game here to make the process fun. Count to 10 and see if the child can coast with feet up for at least 10 seconds.
This is often the hardest part for kids. They can learn scooting with ease. But when it comes to pedaling, fear often comes in. they always want to have someone behind them. Push them for a short distance and encourage them to pedal a whole cycle. Do this over and over until the kid finally gets it. Patience here is extremely important so set aside some ample time.
This too can be as hard as pedaling. The best way to go about it is to encourage your kid to steer the bike in figure 8’s. This should be done at a moderate speed. If you have cones, then the whole work becomes easy and fun. Set up the cones at different places to ensure the kid can steer the bike without struggling.
Pitfalls to avoid
There are way too many mistakes people when make when teaching children how to ride the bike. The first mistake is to teach how to ride with supporting wheels still in place. You will only take more time with the wheels in place, so have them removed.
The second common mistake has everything to do with speed. The appropriate learning speed should not be too fast or two slow. Moderate speed is all you need to help a kid learn how to ride a bike.
Safety stands out too as another pitfall to avoid. Lead by example all the time. Put on your helmet all the time. Then begin your practice session by explaining to your kid the importance of safety gear.
Then remember that the lessons do not end just because your child can coast, pedal and steer the bike without help. Make follow ups all the time until you can see that there is nothing else left to learn. The whole process can take time or can happen very first depending on factors such as where you choose to teach the kid how to ride a bike, the kid’s age or even the type of bike used.