With Christmas just around the corner several bikes will be purchased over the next month and many little legs will be pedalling around on Christmas day, but what is the best way to teach your kids to ride a bike?
Learning to ride a bike is an important process to help children learn motor skills and balance, it also provides a bonding experience between parent and child. Plus there are so many great bike paths around Brisbane that make great family outings. Here are a few general tips for teaching your child how to ride a bike.
1. Be patient
I remember when I was learning to ride my bike my sister was two years my junior and managed to ride rings around me from the start. But my Dad was patient with me and gave me the extra time I needed. Parents need to be patient with their kids and remember some will learn faster than others.
2. Safety Gear
Helmets! Helmets! Helmets! Every child needs a helmet when riding a bike. Also proper shoes, no thongs or sandals, sometimes these can get caught up in the pedals or under foot when they are pushing off, closed in shoes are best. Don’t put girls in frilly or long dresses, the last thing you won’t is the hem getting caught up in the chain. Also as an extra precaution you can go down the knee guard and elbow guard route, this is a personal preference and is completely up to you.
3. Choose a method
There are various methods to teach a child how to ride a bike and the internet is already full of step by step guides. Some prefer to start with training wheels then move onto no training wheels. Then there is the other method more popular in the UK of moving straight to a running bike or balance bike, which encourages the child to gain balance rather than focusing on pedaling technique first. An alternative to this is removing the pedals and training wheels from your child’s bike and letting them scoot around using there feet for a few days. Then when you think they are ready (they are scooting around and balancing for a few meters at a time) you can replace the pedals and see how they go.
4. Choose a space
You need a wide open space. Somewhere familiar is best for the first few times. Your local parks could be great especially if they aren’t busy or if you are lucky enough to have a wide flat space in your back yard that is the best. Avoid hills and rough or rocky surface to start with, these will make the child unnecessarily nervous. Grass is more gentle when kids fall but can sometimes create an issue with working up the necessary speed.
Once you have settled on your method, encourage your child every step of the way. I know this sounds redundant, of course you will encourage your child right? Sometimes teaching a new skill to someone especially a young child can be frustrating so you tend to focus on what they can’t do instead of what they can. Even if it is just putting their helmet on by themselves or mounting the bike correctly make sure you acknowledge the accomplishment no matter how small, kids love compliments even more than adults so focus on the good and give them praise.
6. Get on a bike
Kids like to mimic what they are seeing. If you get on a bike and show them how fun it is they are bound to want to join in.
Good luck with teaching your kids how to ride a bike.
Already taught your kids how to whiz around on two wheels? Do you have any tips you can share with us?
Riding bikes is a great way to segway into road safety and Sesame Street has just launched a new campaign.