Biking is a life skill, so it is important that it is learned at a young age. Depending on the physical and mental development, teaching cycling should happen anywhere from four to six years old. And no, we are not talking about training wheels! At this age, kids are already confident to ride a two-wheeler, but they need guidance and patience from adults, especially parents.
If you are interested to learn how to teach a kid to ride a bike, read on and we got you covered! We are speaking from experience, so you are guaranteed to learn a thing or two. The most important is to be patient!
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Kids Should Learn to Ride Bikes
- 2 When is a Child Ready to Ride a Bike?
- 3 A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike
- 3.1 1. Start with the Right Bike
- 3.2 2. Find the Right Spot
- 3.3 3. Gear Up for Safety
- 3.4 4. Practice Proper Posture
- 3.5 5. Teach How to Get On and Off the Bike
- 3.6 6. Teach How to Scoot and Glide
- 3.7 7. Increase Pedal Awareness
- 3.8 8. Teach How to Steer and Turn
- 3.9 9. Teach Them to Slow Down and Stop
- 3.10 10. Do More Advanced Lessons
- 4 Other Tips and Tricks
Why Kids Should Learn to Ride Bikes
To start with, let’s talk about some of the reasons why learning to ride a bike is crucial for the little ones. If you are not yet convinced that you should teach a kid to do so, below are some of the compelling reasons that might make you change your mind.
1. It Encourages Physical Activity
We are living in a digital era when kids spend a lot of time on smartphones, tablets, computers, and similar devices. For years, screen time management is one thing most parents have struggled with. A good solution is to teach biking, which will encourage kids to get more physical. This is important for their overall health.
2. It Benefits the Mental Health
Aside from physical health, biking is also beneficial in mental development. At a young age, it teaches kids to concentrate. They learn how to concentrate on things and they also become driven.
3. It is a Good Social Activity
Even at a young age, kids should learn how to socialize. This is a crucial factor for their overall development. To encourage them to play with other children, they need to learn biking. An afternoon spent biking at the park is a sure way to meet new playmates, who can even become lifelong friends.
4. It is a Great Bonding Activity
Looking for the best way to bond with your little ones? Biking could be the answer! Even if it is just a few minutes a day, teaching them to ride a bike is a good way to nurture relationships. Kids will love how they are spending time with their loved ones through biking.
5. It is Fun
If we can identify only one reason why you should teach kids to ride bike, it would be that it is a lot of fun! It is one of the simplest joys of life. Whether it is in the garage or at the park, among other places, the joy of biking is priceless.
When is a Child Ready to Ride a Bike?
This is one of the most important questions most parents have. Unfortunately, we do not have a straightforward answer. In the introduction, we noted that anywhere from four to six years old is the best way to get started with child biking. Nonetheless, these are not absolute numbers.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It depends on several factors, but the most important is the readiness of the child. Your kid must be physically and mentally capable to do so based on your honest assessment as a parent. When the rider isn’t willing, then it will be nothing but an exercise in futility.
A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike
Teaching kids riding a bike is overwhelming for some people, especially for a first-time parent or someone who has not done so in the past. With the right knowledge and a lot of patience, however, you can do so. This section breaks down the most important steps for teaching kids how to ride on bikes.
1. Start with the Right Bike
One of the first things that you need to do is to pick the right bike. With the plethora of options available, making the right choice isn’t easy. Most parents will decide on price, but such should not be the case. Quality is a more important consideration. Below are some of the most important considerations when picking a kid’s bike.
This is perhaps the most important as it directly impacts comfort and safety. Choosing the wrong size may make kids uninterested in learning. When manufacturers state the bike sizes, they are actually referring to the size of the wheel. Make sure that it matches the age of the rider. For three to four years old, a 14-inch wheel is the best option. Meanwhile, we recommend a 16-inch wheel for riders who are four to five years old. For five to eight years old, a 20-inch wheel is recommended. For seven to 11 years old, choose a bike with a 24-inch wheel.
Like when buying bikes for adults, the right fit is another important consideration. Teaching a kid to ride a bike is less frustrating when the size is right. To find the right size, allow the kid to strand straight next to a wall. Put a book between the legs and measure the length from the top of the book to the floor. This measurement is the inseam length, which is a great way to narrow down your options for kid’s bikes.
Pick a lightweight bike, which will be easy for young riders to maneuver. If it is heavy, there is a higher chance that the child will resist. It is difficult to move the bike when it has heavy components. While you go for something lightweight, make sure that the quality and performance will never be compromised.
2. Find the Right Spot
Once you have a good bike, the next important consideration in teaching a kid to ride a bike is the location. Do not immediately take it to the streets. This is not just overwhelming for the child, but this is also unsafe.
Your best bet is to start in your garden or in any other area without cars and other pedestrians. Look for an open space where kids will not feel intimidated. Pick a location with a flat ground, which will be easier for young riders to traverse.
3. Gear Up for Safety
At a young age, instill discipline and responsibility to kids. As you teach child to ride bike, make sure that you give him or her the necessary protective gear. It is almost a given that kids will fall as they learn, so your goal is to protect them from injuries.
On the top of the list of the must-have protective gears is a helmet. It is a good idea to choose one with bright colors and playful designs, which will encourage the child to wear it. The helmet should also offer different adjustments so it will have a snug fit. Another important consideration is ventilation, making sure that the wearer will be comfortable.
Aside from wearing a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads are also must-haves. They will prevent kids from getting hurt, especially on hard surfaces. It might seem like too much but wearing such is important if you want to have peace of mind.
4. Practice Proper Posture
Now that almost everything is ready, the next important thing is to teach proper posture. Even at a young age, a kid learning to ride a bike must know how to seat properly. Teach the child to have the back straight instead of slouching. Teach the proper hand, arm, leg, and feet position as well. Expect that they will resist, and they might not even follow what you are teaching. It is important to be persistent and keep on correcting them regarding the right stance when biking.
5. Teach How to Get On and Off the Bike
Another basic lesson when you teach kids to ride a bike is how to get on and off. Let them do it until they are comfortable. Make sure that the frame height is suitable for the kid. Otherwise, they will have a hard time raising their leg when they get in and out of the bike. Make sure to help them hold the bike as well.
6. Teach How to Scoot and Glide
Once the kid is on the bike, the next important thing to learn is scooting and gliding. This is what will let them move from one point to another. At this point, the bike should not have pedals. The goal is to teach them to balance.
Ask them to hold the handlebar and use their feet to push the bike. They should learn both balance and coordination at this point. While they are practicing this, you should also teach them to look straight ahead. The natural tendency for most kids is to look on their feet as they move. Tell them to keep their head straight and look at the direction where they are heading.
7. Increase Pedal Awareness
When teaching kids to ride a bike, pedal awareness is another important consideration. Put the front wheel on the bike in between your feet and hold the handlebars. Let the kid sit on the bike and grab the handlebars. After finding balance, position their feet on the handlebars. Support the bike while doing this, until he or she is in a comfortable position.
After assuming the correct position, the rider should now learn how to move the pedals while staying balanced. This is one of the most difficult things to learn, so pack a lot of patience. Expect that there will be falls, but do not panic.
8. Teach How to Steer and Turn
At this point, the child should already be comfortable with the bike. Time to take it a notch higher and start teaching the basics of steering and turning. These are already complex lessons, so proceed only after the basics were mastered.
A good way to teach steering and turning is to have a sort of obstacle course but avoid making it too complicated. Set up make-shift safety cones and kids must learn how to get past through them. Playing follow the leader is another great way to teach this important lesson. Hop on the bike and let your kid follow you.
9. Teach Them to Slow Down and Stop
A child learning to ride a bike should also know how to slow down and stop. The best way to start with this lesson is to teach a kid the importance of the brake. If they know what it does, then it will be easier for them to use.
For a bike that comes with a coaster brake, hold it in a steady position and teach them how to press the brake without wobbling. On the other hand, when using a bike that comes with a hand brake, walk with the kid and hold their hand as they engage the brake until they can do it on their own.
10. Do More Advanced Lessons
Teaching kids to bike should be a progressive lesson. Spend a few days teaching the basics. Once you are confident that your kid can do the fundamentals of biking, move to more advanced lessons. This will include going uphill and downhill. Again, these should be reserved only to a time when kids are already confident of their capabilities.
Other Tips and Tricks
Aside from the steps mentioned above on how to teach kid to ride bike, below are other tips that will help you succeed.
Get Rid of the Training Wheels
You are not doing your child any favor by having the training wheels on. If your kid has been through such stage already, it is time to remove it. They will need to learn the art of balancing, and they can also do so when there are no longer training wheels.
Inflate the Tires Properly
This is one thing that most people miss when teaching kids to ride bike. It is important to maintain the right pressure, which will make the bike roll smoothly. Look at the sidewall of the tire and follow the pressure that the manufacturer recommends.
Avoid Pushing the Bike
The best way to teach your kid to ride a bike is to let them become independent. Some parents will think that pushing the bike is the most logical way to inspire confidence. Truth is, it is the opposite. When you are pushing the bike, kids will be more reliant. They will expect you to be there. We suggest giving your kid more freedom. Watch from a distance but be alert so that you are ready to extend a helping hand when necessary.
Encourage Group Rides
During the first few days of teaching your kid to ride a bike, do it alone. This is important to stay focused and prevent being intimidated. Once your child is more confident, it is time to bring other children in the picture. Kids will have fun when they are doing it with other people. It is a good way to redefine playtime for them.
The best way to learn to ride a bike is to have a supportive environment where there is no fear and drama. Aside from preventing intimidation, avoid showing emotions, especially during mishaps. Your child will fall on the bike several times. That is almost a given. Even if they are hurt, do not be anxious. They will recover. Show them that they should not quit.
Take a Break
If you go online and read guides about teaching children to ride a bike, you will see article stating that you can do so in 45 minutes. While this is possible, there should be no rush. Take a break when necessary. Imagine being taught something for the first time. Exhausting, right? This is the same thing when teaching biking to children. They are young and impatient. Teaching them how to bike for hours can be a torture.
Give Them Treats
Is your kid not actively participating? Make bike riding for kids easy by bringing treats, such as chocolates and candies. If the rider has done well, give a reward. It can also act as a sort of motivation. Give them something to look forward to so that they will concentrate when you are teaching them how to ride a bike.
Do Not Pressure Them
When teaching children to ride bikes, do not put any pressure on them. The more they feel pressured, the higher is the chance that they will resist. The teaching environment should be supportive and easy going. Do not push your own goals. Let the kids learn at their own pace and show them that you are there to support them.
Now that you are done reading, we hope that you learned a thing or two about how to teach to ride a bike. While some kids pick up quicker than others, do not expect to see results overnight. It is a gradual process that requires a supportive environment. Show kids that you support them in their learning journey, and they will be more motivated to pedal without you assisting them.