One of the best part of this great summer weather, is all the time families can spend outside playing together. We’ve been taking walks, swimming, going to the park and riding bikes nearly every day. My second grader is a pro, but we’re working on teaching our little man how to master his. If you’re also teaching your child how to ride a bike, here’s some great tips from Nanny.net.
Learning to ride a bike is one of the quintessential moments in life. It’s a milestone that leaves every child feeling accomplished and empowered, and one of those memories that you look back on fondly years after the fact. Funny thing is that more and more kids aren’t learning how to ride a bike. If you’re considering teaching your child to ride a bike, consider these strategies:
- Hold the bike while she rides: The “holding the bike” strategy is a tried and true method for teaching a child how to ride. Kids have trouble with balancing in the beginning stages of learning to ride, so you can run alongside them and help them balance while they pedal. When they get the hang of pedaling and you can’t keep up, just let go.
- Use a long handle: These are the coolest thing to come out in a long time to help with teaching kids to ride a bike. One of the issues with running alongside your child while he is riding is that you can run into his feet while he is pedaling and actually throw off his balance, as well as your own. This handle attaches to the back wheel of a child’s bike and allows you to run behind the bike and steady your child at the same time.
- Tandem: While not a true bicycle built for two, this device connects your child’s bike to your bike, allowing you to ride in a tandem fashion. Your child still has to pedal and he still has the steering and brakes available, but when he is connected to your bike you can help him with balance and steering. The device attaches to the front wheel of a child’s bike so that it stops the child from turning the wheel.
- Raise the training wheels: Training wheels are the little wheels that attach to the back tire of your child’s bike to help him balance as he learns to ride. When your child is ready, you can actually raise the training wheels up so that they aren’t touching the ground. This allows the child to start trying to balance on his own, while providing a safety net should the child start to fall over. If he starts to tip, the training wheels will be there to steady him.
- Remove the pedals: Since balancing is the most important thing to learn when riding a bicycle, it’s important to figure out a way for your child to concentrate solely on balancing as he learns to ride. Remove the pedals and lower the seat until your child can stand comfortably over the bike. Allow your child to push the bike with his feet and coast. Keep increasing the time and distance that he coasts. This will help improve his balance.
- Slowly add in steering and turning: Once your child has mastered pushing off and coasting on his bike without pedals, you need to teach him to turn. Turning will throw off his balance so it’s important to start slowly and encourage him to make wide, gentle turns. As he gains success, encourage him to make sharper ones.
- Set up a cone course: As your child improves, set up a bunch of cones on a paved area for your child to ride through. Once the child can coast, steer, turn, stop and avoid cones, he is almost ready to really ride.
- Teach how to get started: This step may seem obvious to seasoned bikers, but it’s very important to show and explain how to start pedaling the bike. Children can push off with their feet, kind of like they can do without the pedals, and then once they are rolling they can put their feet on the pedals and start pedaling. Make sure your child is looking up and not down at his feet when starting off.
- Braking: Depending on what kind of brakes your child’s bike has, stopping may be different. Encourage lots of practice braking. Your child will need to learn how to do slow and controlled stops, as well as learn to brake fast, if needed.
- Follow the leader: Explain some of the safety rules for bikers, such as hand signals for turning. Have your child follow you while you demonstrate everything you have taught him, if he can. He may be good to go without constant help.