Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Riding a bike in 1-2-3

As I was picking my son up from school yesterday I overheard several other parents talking about taking the nice weather as an opportunity to teach their 6 year olds how to ride a bike with no training wheels, so I thought I would share how we have taught two kids how to ride.
1.  Location Matters
Living on a quiet street with a fairly level driveway is a huge positive.  Let the kids experiment and explore on their own.  If you don't have this setup, make regular trips to the park or to a quiet street.  In reality I know this takes effort and is not always feasible, but finding a way for opportunity to explore helps.

2.  Have an extra (old) bike around with no training wheels.
We have always had an extra bike around with no training wheels that is the right size for the kids.  It allows them the opportunity to practice balancing with their feet while still being able to hop on a bike with training wheels to get the physical coordination under control.

3.  Make bike rides and outdoor play a part of life.
The more exposure your kids have to bikes and riding them, it becomes a part of their everyday experiences rather than a task that you feel obligated to teach.

4.  Let go of the bubble wrap.
Kids will take whatever temperament the parents have in all situations.  If you feel like you need to protect every inch of your child's body before putting them on a bike, you are telling your child that bike riding equals danger and pain.  Who would want to do that??  Be responsible, but don't instill fear.  If you child falls, scoop them up, kiss the boo boo, and tell them it's okay.  Have them try again, and downplay the hurt.

5.  Let them do it on their own.
Sometimes kids just need to be left alone.  Some are ready early, others aren't, and it's okay. If you feel like you are pushing them and it's resulting in tears, then just wait.

We have found most of our bicycles for free.  Even though they needed a little oil and are a little beat-up, it makes it more appealing to the kids that they don't have to be afraid of scuffing up a new bike, and give them opportunities to learn on their own.  You don't have to wait until they are five to start.  Start young, and let them go!
Do you have any tips on teaching kids how to ride a bike?  Comment and share!

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