Teach a Kid to Ride

December 18th, 2012

We all cherish our first solo ride without training wheels and without adult assistance. Freedom! Independence! Speed! But most of us don’t remember the pain, suffering, and anxiety our parents endured while trying to give us that cycling experience. We’ve done a lot of that here, too, and we’ve settled on a pretty simple, effective, and empowering teaching method.

1. Find a Grassy Place to Learn

Find a grassy area like a field or park with a mild downhill incline. Ideally, it finishes on a flat or slight uphill to slow him down. Give yourself plenty of room without obstacles. Inevitably, the child will take a spill, but a soft landing will be forgotten quickly, and maybe a bit fun. Make sure to laugh when it happens. Plus, the soft friendly surface will be less intimidating than tarmac.

2. Take the Training Wheels Off

You won’t need them. The child will experience balancing and coasting without aid—and without trauma .It’s important that this sensation is part of the experience.

3. Lower the Saddle

This allows the kid to comfortably put her feet firmly on the ground. Also, you can take the pedals off to avoid foot tangle, effectively creating a balance bike. This is optional.

4. Hold the Bike While the Kid Mounts

Stand behind the bike while your child steadily mounts the bike and put his feet on the ground.

5. Practice Walking

Simply tell the kid to walk with the bike. Gradually get faster, with longer strides and more “air.”

6. Stay Behind the Kid

Speak instructions and encouragement while not being a visual or physical distraction. Don’t grab the handle bars, as it creates an additional crutch to overcome.

7. Coast with Both Feet Off the Ground

Let the incline provide momentum, and the kid will lift his feet, experience solo riding, and gain confidence.

8. Repeat!

Practice this, as the kid will get used to balancing and really riding on her own. Incorporate pedaling at this time.

9. Raise the Saddle and Advance to Pavement

Try the driveway, a parking lot, or cul de sac for advanced practice.