It's been months - probably almost a year since we first posted our 'Learning to Ride' series. This is post 3 in the Teaching kids to ride and it will be our last I expect. Mostly becuase we have been successful!
You will remember from the first two posts (1, 2) that we've had little to no success. We first puchased the bike and found little to no interest in the bike. Probably some fear of failure and fear of the weight and bike bike.
The second post we knew there had been some success as he had managed to ride at his pedalheads class. This was not for long and there was complete resistance to ride again. Because we had seen him ride we knew the success of the Balance Bike was evident. He had balanced with little effort and pedaled with ease but for some reason decided he wasn't ready to ride more. His friends were all riding already so there was probably some pressure there he was pushing back on.
So, recently we got to try again. It seemed the sunshine brought out his sense of adventure and the idea of a family bike ride was pretty enticing. First we started in the car park. You have to remember he hadn't been on his bike for months at this point. Within 15-20 minutes we had managed to get the basics right! The car park is a stretch about 50 meters long with a gentle slope. We tried to pedal pedal pedal but it was too confusing so we started just balancing a coasting down. That seemed to be the trick - once he felt he could balance he then managed to add pedaling with much effort (we did nudge a few cars in the process :/ ).
We then moved to the park and the success continued - longer distances and corners as well. The only thing that was hard to master was starting the pedaling. This came in the first few days of riding however, once he experienced the fun of riding he wanted to go out everyday.
Top tips for teaching kids to ride
Here are the tips I think helped progress from a Balance Bike to a kids bike without using training wheels:
Start by getting used to balancing on the new bike by choosing a very gentle hill and coasting down - no pedalling.
Don't start with corners for a while - small steps, keep in a straight line.
Don't try up hills for a while either - it's a morale killer.
Don't help them by holding anything other than the bottom of the seat they sit on. As soon as they feel you are there they will lean into you and loose their balance. Give them a little start and let go when you feel they are OK.
Always start with their dominant leg, with that pedal positioned at the top, ready to be pushed to start (just like you would when you start riding from a stand still)
Don't hurry to teach them the hand brake. Let them master one skill at a time.
Encourage the heck out of them. They love to hear how proud you are!
In summary for this teaching kids to ride series here is how it went down.
Purchase bike - little interest in learning. Just too hard.
Sent for one day at pedalheads class and managed to ride short bursts. Afterwards no interest.
Months later, and 15-20 minutes in car park, a perfect riding experience pedalling and all.
Over the next week mastery of starting, steering and braking.
If you add up all the time spent learning it's not more than 2-3 hours. That to us proves that you don't need training wheels and that balance bikes are the best way to learn to ride!
How has your experience been? Comment below.
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