6 tips to help you teach a kid to ride a bike
The best skill to teach a preschooler during the spring season is how to ride a bike. This is not as difficult as it seems, and if a simple algorithm is followed, literally any three or four-year-old child will easily be able to get on the bike and ride. On two wheels at once.
1. Start early with a balance bike
Runbikes, bike runs or two-wheeled trolleys, similar to a bicycle without pedals, have become popular all over the world, and for a reason. Already, at two years old, a child can learn to balance, keep the steering wheel straight, make turns and will not be afraid of speed. After running the pedal-less bike, the only skill a child will need to master on the classic bike is to pedal. In contrast, when a child gets on a bike from scratch, they will have to learn to balance, to steer and to pedal all at the same time — which is much more difficult, especially for 3 and 4 years old. Therefore, these balance bikes are the perfect bike for 2 year olds and for 3 years old just starting off. They’re also the perfect bikes for parents wanting to effectively teach a kid how to ride a bike from an early age.
Do not forget to buy a helmet with a balance bike — it will be easier to explain to your child that a two-wheeled vehicle and protection are inseparable.
2. Choose the lightest bike
Bicycles for children are made, as a rule, from the cheapest, outdated and heaviest components — and this, despite the fact that for strong and resilient adults, manufacturers every year come up with more and more lightweight solutions. Look for the lightest thing bike on the market for kids. Don’t give in to salespeople touting a 12-15kg bike with the «but it’s sustainable» argument. Your child will have to ride on his own, without any safety wheels and handles — and it will be extremely difficult for him to move this heavy structure.
3. Don’t buy a bike to grow
The idea of buying a bicycle for a three-year-old that can be ridden at five or seven is extremely attractive for the family budget. Yet, this idea does not work at all if you want to teach a child to ride independently without any safety wheels. The fact is that for successful training, the legs of a small cyclist, when he sits in the saddle, must stand firmly on the ground with the entire foot. Therefore, it is unlikely that a three-year-old will be able to successfully ride a bike with wheels over 12 inches, and a four-year-old – with wheels more than 14. A bicycle fit for a child may last only a season or two, but it won’t get dusty. The child will really be able to utilize it to its fullest. The best option to save money is to simply buy a used bike, especially since the previous owner hardly managed to «exploit» it to death.
4. Unscrew everything unnecessary (and especially the safety wheels)
A child who has experience riding bikes does not need any additional wheels and handles. For one or two days (and a maximum of a week) you can support your child from behind their back while they learn to pedal, and then get out of their way- and voila. By unscrewing unnecessary accessories (for example, a heavy trunk, a footboard, etc.), you will reduce the weight of the bike and it will be much easier for your child to handle it.
5. Do not hold by the seat
So, everything is ready, there is a bicycle at the right height, in front of you is a wide, straight path in a park or in the yard. Encourage your child to first ride the bike like a balance bike, pushing off the ground. Then, ask them how to bring the pedals into a comfortable position so that when they put their feet on them, they can push the bike forward. Once they’re in a comfortable position, tell them to try to ride: the child will sit and pedal, and you will lightly hold them by their clothes (jacket or sweater on their back). Under no circumstances should you hold the seat. Keeping the bike in balance is the goal for your child, and your only job is to help him not to fall over at the same time.
6. Show an example
We gave our son a bicycle when he was three years old, and at three years and one month he was already riding on his own. As our son himself told us later, our example helped him understand how to ride correctly. My husband and I rode a lot and carried our child in a bicycle seat, and as soon as our son got on a bike himself, we began to ride to the nearest park all together — we were on our bikes, but our child was on his own. By the end of the summer, he had already traveled up to five kilometers completely independently without much difficulty.