Once the motor skills have matured and the child develops the desire to practice, nothing stands in the way of the first few meters riding by themselves on the bike. Our guide shows how to teach a child to ride a bicycle.
Cycling is a very special attraction for many children. Because who can pedal, is one of the greats, is faster on the go and just cool. No wonder, then, that many children prefer to swing on the saddle today, rather than tomorrow, and let off steam. But when is your child really ready to ride a bicycle and how do you best teach it?
Teach a child to ride a bicycle: The right time
There is no best age to teach a child to ride a bicycle. As in all other areas, here too, every child has its own pace of development. However, it can be observed that in recent years children are getting on their bikes earlier. Some ambitious little cyclists can ride independently even in kindergarten. Decisive for the success of learning to ride a bicycle are the motor skills and the body strength of the child. Since many children today are already on the road with one or two wheels, they learn to balance early and steer a bike. This is already the basis for the later cycling laid and the transition to the bike with pedals is much easier.
Of course, there are also children who are interested in cycling later. That’s ok, of course. By the beginning of school at the latest, most children can cycle.
Run the scooter as a preliminary exercise to the bike
A good preparation to teach a child to ride a bicycle is practising with the four-wheeerl or scooter, as both train the sense of balance, responsiveness and body control. Small children from the age of one who are already running can already use a four-wheeled bike. Even with a two-wheeled scooter, you can practice balancing the body. As soon as your child is safe on one or both companions, it has good motor conditions for cycling. Now only the express desire to learn to ride a bicycle is missing. Then there’s nothing to get in the way of the first practice sessions with your bike, and your child has the right motivation to overcome small falls and failures more easily, without immediately losing the pleasure of cycling.
The right bike for your child
Learning to succeed in cycling depends largely on the right equipment. It’s not just about having a bike of the right size for your child, the matching accessories like helmet and bicycle bell can increase the enjoyment of cycling. At the following point you have to pay attention when buying a bicycle:
- Bike size: The smallest children’s bikes start at 12 inches. This is for children with a height from about 95 cm. Your child must stand up safely with his feet on the ground, otherwise the bike is too big. The sentence popular with parents “You’re still growing” makes sense for clothes, but not for bicycles. Older and older kids can ride a 16- to 18-inch bike, while elementary school kids usually ride on 18 to 20 inches. The lighter the bike, the easier it is for your child to hold. But that does not mean that children can not learn to ride a bicycle on something heavier and therefore more robust. For optimal bike size and model you can get advice in the shop. It is essential to try the bike together with the child before buying – not every model fits every child. Especially the first children’s bike will often fall over, fall over and also be heavily used. And because of its small size and the rapid growth of your children at this age, it can only be done for a very short time. Here it is worth thinking about buying a used children’s bike.
- Saddle and handlebars: The saddle on the bike should be adjusted so that the child is loose while sitting with both feet on the ground – but not only with the toes! The handlebar height must also be adjusted so that your child sits comfortably and upright when cornering.
- Equipment: It is important to have a closed chain guard, so that no clothes get tangled and bring your child down. In addition, the handles should be secure and padded. A curved handlebar should provide sufficient impact protection and also be padded. Of course, the brakes must work too. Most bicycles for beginners are equipped with a coaster brake. This is especially important for very young cyclists, as Kita children often lack the strength in their hands to pull the handbrake firmly enough. In addition, children with a coaster brake can usually respond faster.
- Bike helmet and schooner: A helmet is required! At this point you should not talk to you either. Without helmet, do not ride a bike. Point. Let your child choose the helmet himself – of course one who, according to the specialist, fits in the right way – this promotes the willingness to actually wear the head protection. If you want to play it safe, equip your child with other protective clothing, such as elbow and knee pads for children. Especially for anxious children, such additional protection can provide more mental security for the adventure of learning to ride a bicycle.
Support wheels – yes or no?
It used to be common practice to learn to ride a bicycle with training wheels. Presumably, most of our parents once made their first rounds with training wheels. Today, experts advise against the use of training wheels.
Especially for children who are already safe with the wheel, driving with training wheels would be a step backwards. Because the balance while driving you can already hold. Support wheels make cycling easier, but complicate it. They convey the wrong feeling of driving and relieve your child of balancing while driving. In the worst case, your child will unlearn the already learned balanced driving again. In addition, support wheels give your child the wrong feeling of not being able to fall over, whether it is driving or standing. If the support wheels are then removed again, your child has to (re) learn his feeling for the bike and his own body.
Support wheels are thus a completely unnecessary and counterproductive intermediate step to learn actual cycling.
If your child still has too much difficulty balancing, then it is better to let it run for some time with the wheel or on the bike with the pedals removed. This will keep you in balance and your child will soon be ready to try again with pedals.The right bike for your child. When it gets warmer outside, the cycling season finally starts again. But which racer fits best with your child? According to which criteria should you choose the new children’s bike?
Teach a child to ride a bicycle: Find the best practice site
Of course, we all know that our children should not learn to ride bicycles next to or on a busy street. Or? For the sake of completeness, here’s another hint where you can practice with your kids the best:
- Parks are a great practice area. However, you should choose a quiet day or day time, because other cyclists, dogs and joggers can your trainees dangerously get in the way (or vice versa).
- Parking Of course, only after closing time, when there are no more parking cars on it and no customers on or off.
- The own yard If you are lucky and have a sufficiently large yard or a flat garden area, you can relax and teach your offspring how to ride a bike.
- Dirt roads Even quiet agricultural or forest roads without significant traffic are perfect as a training ground.
- Meadow or lawn On soft, grassy ground, it is not so hard in falls. However, the uneven surface can only lead to such. In addition, you might have problems with the park administration if you let your children kick over the beautiful English lawn.
- Zoo or Game and Animal Parks If you are allowed to bring a children’s bike, there are also extensive zoos and zoos for practice sessions, especially if your child can drive a bit. Again, you should watch a time with a few visitors.
In general, any larger area with as few bumps, inclines, gradients, obstacles and traffic is ideal for the first attempts on the bike.
Tips for the parental driving instructor
Learning to biking is not easy, but also teaching cycling has its pitfalls. And as we know from our school days, a good teacher is often crucial to learning progress. Of course, that also applies to us parents, if we teach our children to ride a bike. We have the following tips for relaxed exercise sessions for parents and children:
- Have patience: always try to stay calm and relaxed. Avoid by expressed expectations (“And then on the weekend we show grandma, how good you can do that!”) Or negative comparisons (“Marie can do that too and she is still much smaller than you!”) Pressure to build. If your kids are tired of cycling, take a break or continue on another day. Are you relaxed, your child is relaxed and then it works with cycling at some point by itself.
- Give the right help: At the beginning, you can give your child help with driving by holding it by the shoulders or on the back. From the saddle or handlebar, however, you should leave your fingers, so that your child has to balance himself. Stay with your help position always in the forward facing area of your child, so it does not turn around when practicing to see you. Your child should always look forward while cycling.
- Better push as push: Push motivate your child to pedal, while it can be more passive when pushed. If you push it, do not let your child go without warning: Danger of falling!
- To fall also to be learned: Do not panic before falling! As a rule, novice drivers are rather slow and also have only a low fall height, so that only a little can happen with helmet and protective clothing. And traps also want to be practiced. Most of the time, it is the fright that makes your child cry. When the tears have dried, it can go on.
- Practicing, practicing, practicing: As soon as the first few meters are driven independently and safely, you can practice cornering, as well as driving on other surfaces, such as a meadow or cobblestones. Special sticking points are the starting and braking. Especially the latter should be controlled safely to be able to stop quickly and accurately in dangerous situations and later road crossings. The best way to ride a bike is as much as possible involved in everyday life, because only practice makes perfect.
Attention in traffic
Go in the traffic, or on public sidewalks only when your child is certainly safe and confident with the bike. That means it has to be able to brake and swerve suddenly. Also we mums and dads are allowed to cycle along with our children on the sidewalk. Very important in road traffic is also all the safety equipment of the bike: reflectors, lights, working brakes, a bell and always inflated tires. And finally, we remind you once again of the bicycle helmet, because the rescue saves lives in an emergency and protects against serious injuries, not only when you teach a child to ride a bicycle, but once they have learned to ride as well.
Author: Genevieve Dumas is a food, fashion and beauty stylist from New York, who has worked for a range of major magazines.