We have a Guest Post today. We hope you enjoy it.
Today’s guest post was written by Allen, who enjoys cycling, outdoor activities and listening to Broadway songs.
Tips to Teach Your Child to Ride a Bike without Training Wheels
For some kids learning to ride a bike opens up a whole new world of freedom, growing up, and of course, fun! Teaching your child to ride a bike can be a difficult and frustrating experience for parents and kids alike. By following a few tips, and making a couple of creative games and challenges, you may be able to have your kid ready to ride in no time.
1. Clothing and Protection
Bikes have a lot of moving parts, so it is best to avoid loose clothing. This means your child may need to leave their baggy pants and fun kids pajamas at home and change into something more form fitting. Also make sure that shoelaces are securely tied and not too long so they are less likely get caught in the gears.
Everyone should wear a helmet on a bike, but with additional protection, you may be able to keep your child even safer and learning faster. Helmets, elbow, knee, and wrist pads not only may you help protect your child, but may also give them the confidence they need to get back up after they fall. Just make sure that all of the protective gear is in good condition and fits them well.
2. Find the perfect training area
The next thing to do is find a wide-open and safe area where you can teach your child to ride their bike. Large, flat, and smoothly paved areas tend to be best. For example, an outdoor basketball or tennis court (without a net), or even a large private driveway without traffic can work. Just make sure that there is no traffic, the area is not crowded, the pavement is relatively smooth, and there are no other obstacles around that could be dangerous, such as poles, potholes, or curbs.
3. Balancing and Braking
Before kids work on steering or pedaling the first thing they need to learn is balance. By removing the pedals from the bike, and lowering the seat so they can comfortably sit on it with their feet touching the ground, you can help teach them how to balance.
First, have them push themselves along by scooting with their feet while you gently hold their shoulders to help them balance. Once they get a little speed, they can pull their feet up and off of the ground and coast for a second or two at a time before putting their feet back on the ground to balance and to push again. As they do this, show them how far they were able to balance last time by marking the starting and stopping points with chalk. Just make sure that if they start heading too far towards the edges of your training area, you tell them to stop with their feet so you can turn their bike around and point them in the right direction. Once they can easily balance while coasting, you can stop holding their shoulders and let them go by themselves. After they have mastered coasting on their own, you can start teaching them how to brake.
To teach your kids how to brake, draw lines with chalk in the area they are riding. Then, from about 20 or 30 feet away, point them towards the line. Ask them to push along until they are coasting, and then gently apply the brakes starting at the line you drew. If you put another line where they come to a complete stop, they will be able to see how long it takes to brake at that speed. After they get a sense of this, you can ask them to try coming to a stop between two lines, and then make the space between lines smaller and smaller as they get more control. Once they can stop their bike on top of a single line, they may be accomplished brakers and ready to learn turning!
An easy way to work on turning do this is to create an obstacle course with small obstacles that can easily be seen but that your child can easily ride over. For example, empty paper cups, crumpled sheets of paper or even potato chips.
Set the first obstacle about 30 feet in front of your child so they have plenty of time to get comfortable coasting. Then ask them to try riding to the left or right side of it by gently turning the handlebars. As they become more confident and successful with this activity, you can have them coast towards it and then call out if they should go left or right when they are nearing the obstacle.
As your child progresses, you can add extra obstacles that they should weave between. To make it more fun, you can set up obstacles that may cause your child to ride in a path of that spells their name, or one that draws their favorite cartoon character. Another fun activity can be to place some scattered potato chips on the ground. Then your child can try to ride over and crunch as many as they can in a time period of a minute or so. This will help with balancing, braking, turning, and the crunches may have your kid giggling and laughing.
5. Riding with Pedals
Once your child has mastered balancing, turning and braking, they may be ready for the pedals to go back on the bike (but not before! Pedals will allow your child to go faster than they could coasting in a flat area, so make sure that they are comfortable braking, turning and balancing before putting them on). Your child should start off with one foot on the ground and the opposite foot on a pedal that is pointing straight forward. Then, they should work on simultaneously pushing forward with the foot on the ground, while pushing down on the pedal. The first few times you may need to gently hold their shoulder, to keep them balanced. After that it may be a good idea to jog alongside them so that you can help if they start to wobble. Soon your child should be able to ride all by their self!
While learning to ride a bike may give your child a speedy new mode of transportation, learning can be intimidating for them. By taking steps like the ones mentioned above, you may be able to make learning to ride bikes more fun and less scary.