How do I teach my child to ride?

How to teach your child to ride a bike

Balance bikes are the easiest way to teach a child to learn to ride. They are best used as a bike so the child can use them as a means of getting themselves around rather than solely a training aid. Ideally they would be used from 2/3 years old alongside other ride on toys and or scooters. Balanceability uses balance bikes with brakes.

They often have brakes which makes them a safe and convenient means of transport if you have a younger sibling in a pushchair or pram. A balance bike can make family walks more fun and trips to the park a gateway to new adventures.

If you missed this opportunity don’t worry we are here to help but if you would like to give it a go by yourself then read on. We have balance bikes to fit all ages.

Teach to push

If your child is too big for your balance bike then no problem I would take the pedals off the bike which is a simple job. Keep their saddle low at this point.

The first thing is to get your child confident on the bike with their feet flat on the floor. That way they will learn to keep their bike upright when it is moving. One of the real problems with stabilisers is they encourage a child to lean on to them so already they are missing this opportunity to control their bike.

Teach to glide

Encourage them to move their feet with progressively larger steps as they gain in confidence. This way they will eventually be confident to glide on their bike.

When they can glide confidently then practice steering. Get them gliding around and moving around objects and pathways etc. We use cones and traffic signs and the progressive course builds on the skills required to learn to ride. Encourage the use of the brake(s) to slow down as well as to stop. It will be obvious when they are ready for the next stage and they will be excited and willing to get their pedals back on. Don’t rush this stage it may not happen in a 30-minute session! Each of our sessions are around 45 minutes to build in time for warm up balance activity fun and bike fitting. It may be a good time to raise their saddle at this stage.

Now for the pedals

Keep the saddle at the same height unless it is uncomfortable to have a foot on the pedal – this is common on the BMX type bikes. Raising the saddle too much at this point will knock the child’s new found bike confidence so keep it low.

The push off 

Practice pushing forwards with one foot on the pedal (with enough room to push down hard to gain momentum) and one on the floor. Leave it at this point and encourage the repetition of this pushing forwards and gliding forwards. When ready a strong push and glide forwards should be followed by braking. Once a child is confident that they can start, glide and stop the next step will be easier.

Support

To support your child please don’t be tempted to hold the handlebars or the bike saddle. After all the previous balance and gliding practice this will make them feel vulnerable again. A hand placed on the top of the back is all that is needed. A push will help the movement and will allow the child to catch the second pedal. A harder push will keep the bike upright and moving forwards enough for the child to continue pedalling and their smile will say it all.

Why balance bikes?

Action glide

Action glide

Balance bikes are relatively new to the scene in the UK whereas they have been widely used in Europe for some time while we have favoured stabilisers.

They are without doubt the safest, easiest and most fun way to learn to ride a bike. But that is not all they are worth. Your child will love their balance bike, it’s a means of transport, it’s their independence, it’s their fun and it is their exercise. For the parent it means easy and speedy walks through the park and on the pavement. It also means an activity on an overcast day and the perfect way for your child to acquire important gross motor skills and spacial awareness. ultimately it also means no back breaking bending over your child teaching them to ride and most importantly no stabilisers.

Confidence

Start them younger. A good quality balance bike (adjustable seat post and handle bars with a brake) will last from 2½ upwards and you may find that a child will still go back to it even when they have moved onto a pedal bike. We think that the ability to brake with both feet and/or with a brake makes them one of the safest ride on means of transport for a child.

Development

A balance bike will develop independence – they can get around on their own. They can choose their own speed and where they go. In doing so they develop spatial awareness -e.g. walking on the pavement next to a pushchair – you teach them where to stop when you get to a road. A balance bike helps coordination – steering and balance and if the bike has them, braking.  When a child can glide they can balance. They can get quite a speed up when they are scooting along. A child can concentrate on this without having to worry about pedals. This means that when pedals are introduced they have already mastered the rest of it.

Put simply riding is balancing on wheels and turning the wheels where you want to go. Balance bikes shouldn’t be seen as a step towards pedals, a good quality, well-adjusted balance bike will last years. You will be amazed at what a child can do on a balance bike.

Control

A balance bike will help a frustrated toddler to let off some steam and will give them a sense of achievement as they keep up with a sibling or a walking parent. Balance bikes open doors to many a game to keep them active, involved and occupied the traffic light game, gliding competitions etc.

Outdoor exercise

Balance bikes are an early introduction to exercise and a love of the outdoors. Your child will get hot and benefit from the exercise giving endorphins from an early age an introduction to a healthier lifestyle.

How to get your kids moving

Hula-HoopRunning and playing is being replaced by sedentary activities. As a parent perhaps we should be monitoring and restricting television and computer game playing time. Some reports show that too much gadget playing can dull children’s alertness and response times and just simply stop them noticing things. Research is also taking place to determine how much these changes are affecting children’s memory and retention of information.

Continue reading

How much exercise is enough for my child?

blurred child on bikeOf course this will depend on the age of your child. It is so easy to leave the children in front of the television or playing on an electronic game but they shouldn’t be sitting down too much during the day. There is growing evidence that such behaviour can increase the risks of poor health not to mention creating habits of a lifetime.

So, this includes the following activities: –

  • Being restrained in a pushchair or car seat
  • Watching TV and playing video games
  • Travelling on a bus or train

Children under five Continue reading

Steady On!

Boy gymnasticBalance is the main skill required to cycle. In fact is it important in every sport. Balance helps us keep control of our bodies so we can perform a particular task with the minimum amount of swaying around. Even though we aren’t moving very much lots of muscles are working to hold us in this particular position. The better control we have the less energy we use so its less tiring.
The type of balance needed when staying still is static balance and whilst moving is dynamic balance.

Continue reading

What’s so good about cycling for kids?

Baby boy on traffic playground for childs with crash helmet

We are moving less and eating more and our children are leading a more sedentary lifestyle we are told. Cycling however, is the third most popular recreational activity in the UK. Around 3.1 million people ride a bicycle each month.

Cycling has a broad appeal. From toddlers to pensioners, able bodied or those with disabilities can all enjoy cycling with the right bike. Because it’s a form of transport it is easy to fit into daily life and contributes to those recommended minutes of exercise we should do each day. Further, it saves you money and has a positive effect on the environment.

Continue reading