Learning to ride a bike is one of those big milestones for your kids and something that can be much tricker than you think it should be! Here’s some tips on how to teach your child to ride a bike no matter their age.
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Why learn to ride a bike?
Riding a bike is a great skill for kids – it helps coordination, balance and gross motor skills. But more than those things, it’s really a great fun activity. It’s something that can be done with the whole family, with friends and as they get older as a way of having some independence.
Anything that keeps kids active as well and out and about getting fit has to be encouraged!
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What age should you teach your child to ride a bike
There’s no fixed best age to teach a child to ride, but many children are ready from about the age of 5 onwards. Up until this age their balance and coordination might not be developed enough, but always go with your child and if they seem ready give it a go!
Up until they are ready you can always get them learning the skills to ride by either having a bike with stabilisers or by having a balance bike.
If your child is a little older don’t worry, there’s no magic window that a child needs to learn in, just take your time, find a nice safe place to practice – grass is good as it’s soft for any falls – and don’t give up!
What’s the best way to teach a child to ride a bike
There are a few ways that you can begin to teach your child to ride a bike. One of my favourite ways to get started is with a balance bike.
The benefits of a balance bike are that they can be used on a regular basis without it being a big deal. They can build the skills of balancing and the confidence required to do that while having fun and with no pressure. Balance bikes can be used for any length of time as well, they are fun toys to have in the garden and to take to the park. To get the skills more honed, encourage your child to take long strides when using the bike and to eventually lift their legs so that they are balanced and riding along for a short time.
Once your child is ready to progress then you just need to get a bike with pedals. Start as you would with the balance bike – take big strides and try to glide along with the bike. As and when they are ready get them to put their feet on the pedals and try to propel themselves using those.
Another way is to use stabilisers. These are small wheels that allow your child to get used to the bike, to the pedals and steering without needing to worry about the balance. Once you’re ready you can take off the stabilisers and give it a go. Make sure to find a nice flat spot away from traffic (both people and cars!) and a nice calm day is good too.
I find the best way to get going without stabilisers is to encourage your child to push themselves along and try to get their balance without worrying about the pedals. Not too dissimilar to the balance bike method. Once they get the hang of that then encourage them to try putting their feet on the pedals.
Make sure that they keep looking forward, not down, or they are likely to fall. You can walk by their side to be there for them, but try to give them the space they need. Once they get the method right they’ll be off!