Teaching your children lifelong skills is the same as laying the very first bricks for building a solid foundation. It requires a lot of technique, practice and care.
That’s why guiding your child on how to ride a bike is not an easy task. You surely don’t want to give your children painful learning experiences, at the same time, don’t want to waste a lot of time on it.
This article will provide you useful tips so that both you and your kids have a wonderful time and your kids will succeed in learning bike cycling!
Things to Take Notes Before Teaching A Kid To Ride A Bike
The questions below might be the 3 important things that parents need to take notes before starting the riding lesson.
1. Is Your Child Ready to Ride a Bike?
There is no exact answer for the perfect age of learning how to cycle. Individual children have different physical and mental development. To be ready for the riding, your kids need to:
- strong enough to ride and control the bike: do your children know about the directions? Do they easily pedal? You might consider lowering the saddle and removing the pedals so their feet can touch the floor while they sit.
- have a certain level of balancing and coordination: these are the 2 important and required skills to ride a bike.
- have interest in learning: this is the utmost factor which contributes to the learning progress. If your kids show no interest or they are even scared of it, you might consider waiting a bit longer.
The suitable age for the riding is from the age of 4 up to 8. At that age, your children already have the ability of watching and copying what you do, being aware of the directions and have the strength to hold and control the bike.
2. Do you Find a Proper Bike for Your Kids?
The second important thing to consider is choosing a bike for your child. A bike considered as a right fit for your child should have the right height. Your child should be able to have both feet touching the ground while sitting or standing over.
What is more, make sure the distance from the bike seat to the handles is suitable. Your kids shouldn’t lean toward too much in order to hold the handles.
Other things we need to take note when it comes to preparing a bike for your kids are:
- Inflate the tires properly: To make sure the riding lesson is smooth, you might need to look for guidance on how to inflate the tires to the correct pressure.
- Lower the saddle and remove the pedals (optional): this is to ensure that your child has a right sitting position to learn balance, and they can have both feet flat on the ground. They don’t need to lean too forward or try hard to reach the pedals, which helps them feel more comfortable.
- Remove training wheels: training wheels are good for supporting your kids to sit and learn how to pedal. However, they don’t help much in learning balance. Depending on what your kids want to learn first, you might need to consider keeping or removing the training wheels.
3. Do You Find a Proper Helmet for Your Kids?
As important as having a good fit bike, having a good quality helmet is also a must when it comes to the riding lesson with your child. Below are the tips for getting and wearing helmets properly:
- The helmet should not be too large and too heavy. When your child is wearing it, it should not be movable from side to side or front to back.
- The “V” side strap should lay under each ear. If it lay down to your children’s chins, meaning it’s a bit large and you need to find another right fit one.
- The strap should fit under your child’s chin to avoid any back and forth movement.
Bike Riding How-to-Guide for Kids
Riding a Bike without Pedals?
The very first skill that your child needs to be trained in order to ride a bike is balancing and coordinating. A balanced bike will help, or you can take advantage of your ordinary bike by removing the pedals.
Also, you might consider lowering the saddle so that your child can stand with both feet flat on the road. You can ask them to walk back and forth with handle bars held while sitting on the saddles. When they feel comfortable and get used to it, you can consider putting the pedals in.
How to Ride Bikes with Pedals
After your child gets used to balancing, you can consider moving onto pedaling.
Firstly, let your kids be aware of finding and pedaling accurately. You can hold the bike up while having your children sit on the bike. Then you can let them practice turning the pedals in place while looking straight (this is to avoid them from getting out of balance since they are likely to keep looking down at the pedals).
Before having your child to do ‘real’ pedaling, you need to show them how to brake.
- Rear brakes – coaster brakes are installed in the rear wheel. To slow or stop a bike, you need to pedal backwards. To get your child familiar with this type of brake, you can have your child sit on the bike the same as having them practiced pedaling, have them pedal and then rotate the pedals in reverse. Let them do it several times until they have a feel on how the it works. Though, this brake type is a bit challenging for the beginner so it’s not really recommended.
- Practicing the hand brakes is easier. Let the kids walk the bike alongside and ask them to slow the bike by grasping the hand grips tightly using fingers.
The next thing is to have them practice pedaling from one spot to another. Make sure the surface is flat, and the distance is not too long. You can run behind or beside the bike while your child is pedaling so that you can immediately protect them in case of having emergency.
5 Tips to Ensure Best Riding Lesson to Your Kids
1. The First Lesson Shouldn’t Be on the Street
The street is never the place for your first-time cyclist. Noises of other vehicles, strangers and also some obstacles might make your shy child feel uncomfortable.
To let your children have peace in mind, you might consider choosing some quiet, flat and empty places. Your child will not be distracted by the other things and can concentrate on the lesson. Quiet parking lot, trails, or parks will be your ideal options.
Don’t choose the places with a lot of grass or sands. You might think the soft surfaces will keep your child from injuries, but it might be counterproductive since your child needs to put harder effort into moving on these surfaces.
2. Don’t Start with Training Wheels
Two most important skills to gain in order to ride a bike is balancing and pedaling. There is no doubt that learning balance is much harder than pedaling.
Training wheels might help your kids to sit comfortably on the bikes and use their legs to pedal. However, it doesn’t help them much in gaining the balance skill. Once the training wheels are removed, your kids might be terrified of not being able to keep the bike straight.
If you want to train your kid how to pedal, you can do it after teaching them how to balance. You can also consider using the balance bike for better experience.
3. Don’t Hold on to The Bike
One utmost factor to have your child confidently control the bike is that you don’t hold onto the bike. When you keep running alongside and hold the handlebars, your children might be so dependable on you. Thus, they cannot learn the balancing skill and lose the momentum easily.
To give your child have a full control of the bike but also be able to protect them from falling immediately, you can support them with your hands under their armpits.
4. Make It a Fun Experience
Don’t let your kids feel like the lesson will take forever. Set a limit to the lesson. According to the Brain Balance Center, the attention span of children from the age of 4 to 8 is about 8 – 24 minutes. It means they might lose their interest and focus if it takes longer, a 30-minute lesson might be a good choice.
It is also a good idea to collaborate on some simple games to make the learning more fun. Some recommended games are: “Green light, red light”, “Stop Before Hitting the Obstacles”, “Short Race”, etc.
You can also encourage your child by turning the lesson into a motivation reward, for example: the first person to reach the stop will get a cake. The riding experience will be much more fun!
5. Be Supportive, Be Patient
It can be annoying and frustrating if your passionate lesson gets ignored by your audience. However, you should put yourself into your children shoes to feel them and understand them. Your children might have an untold fear of falling down while riding a bike. Don’t increase their fear by putting a lot of expectations and agenda on them.
Individual children have a different learning pace. Make your children feel that their effort putting on learning bike riding is rewarding instead of a must.
You can also practice some supportive comments instead of the commands. Giving your child some compliments after they complete a small skill is a good way to increase their confidence and their interest in the long run.
After reading through these useful tips, you might have your perfect plan in mind to teach your children how to ride a bike. Remember to have your kids learn when they’re ready for it, have your kids equipped with a right fit bike and a proper helmet.
Teaching kids to ride a bike is not an easy task. You have to be patient and put in a lot of effort and love. At the end of the day, it is so rewarding and precious as a parent to see your child riding a bike confidently and having fun.
Riding a bike might be your children’s first experience in learning lifelong skills so make sure it is full of joy and memorable.