There can’t be many prouder moments than watching your child ride a bike for the first time. There also can’t be many moments that cause your heart to leap into your mouth quite like watching your child start to wobble, lose control and steer dangerously close to a moving car. No matter what precautions you take, there’ll always be some degree of uncertainty when it comes to teaching your child how to cycle, and whether it’s ensuring their safety, teaching them to ride correctly or buying the right equipment, you’ve got a few big decisions on your hands.
With summer approaching, there’s no better time to get your kid onto the road. So, we’ve put this little guide together to help you teach your child how to ride a bike. For safety, it’s advisable to make them wear some illuminated apparel like Craft Cadence cycling jersey.
What Age Should My Child Start Learning to Ride a Bike?
While all children develop at different speeds, you don’t want your child to start too early. Plenty of kids start their cycling journey with tricycles, so you can expect that some will start learning to ride a bike from the age of two or three.
It’s a balancing act though, as the younger the child is the higher the chance is that they might injure themselves. On the other hand, children who start younger can develop stronger spatial awareness, strength, agility and motor skills, so it’s really up to you to decide if they are ready. The average age for a child starting to cycle is between the ages of four and five.
Get Rid of the Stabilisers!
We’ve mentioned the decisions that you have to make at the start of this article, and when it comes to teaching your child, choosing between balance and steering is key. Traditionally, parents would teach their kids using stabilisers which focus on steering rather than balancing. In today’s world, It’s becoming more and more popular to focus on balance first.
To teach balance, you do not need to buy stabilisers. Simply follow the below steps:
- Hold Your Child: While your child pedals forwards, hold on to their body and don’t let them fall. This will teach them how to hold their body while they pedal.
- The 10 Metre Rule: Encourage them to move the bike forwards for ten metres without putting their feet on the ground. They don’t need to pedal, but rather do one big push with their feet.
- Use One Foot: When they’re starting to get the hang of it, they can use one foot to push themselves along while balancing themselves between pushes.
- Reduce Contact: As your child moves, you can reduce contact with them as they become more confident.
- Choose a Balance Bike: Balance bikes come without pedals, stabilisers and brakes, meaning that you can complete the steps above easily. Balance bikes are becoming increasingly popular for youngsters learning to ride, and by helping the child to focus on balance rather than steering, it’s thought that they can get to grips with cycling faster.
Why Are Balance Bikes the Number One Choice for Bike Beginners?
Balance bikes are becoming as popular as tricycles and stabilisers for a youngsters first choice. By forcing your child to learn how to balance, it means that they can cycle on their own faster. Not only are they really easy to use and clean, but a balance bike is suitable for most ages, meaning that your child can start while they are a toddler. Benefits include:
- Far Safer than Stabilisers: By teaching your child how to balance rather than steer you can expect fewer accidents and fewer injuries by the time they use a pedal bike.
- Suitable from 12 Months: Balance bikes are suitable for kids of all ages. We mean all ages too, and you can buy bikes for toddlers aged just 12 months all the way through to early adult.
- Improve Motor Skills: By teaching your child to cycle earlier, you can quickly improve their motor skills and make sure that they are ahead of their class. Improved motor skills means better agility, strength and spatial awareness.
- Improve Confidence and Independence: A balance bike is the perfect gateway to the outdoor world. Once your child can cycle, they’ll gain in confidence and want to explore their neighbourhood.
Where Can I Teach My Child to Cycle?
Aside from choosing the right bike size for your kids, another priority should be your little ones safety. While nothing is completely safe, and introducing your child to cycling is a great way to teach them about the risks of the outdoors, the last thing you want is trip to A&E. We would recommend sticking to areas without cars, but that isn’t always possible, and if you do have to teach your child on a road, at least travel across your town to find the quietest road you can. Suitable places include:
- Your Garden: A medium sized garden should be enough to teach your child the key skills for biking. However, once they’ve got the hang of starting, you’ll want to move onto a larger space.
- A Field or Park: Your next choice can be a field which is accessible for the public. Here, there’s enough space for your child to practice, but be aware of any cars that are looking to park.
- A Very Quiet Road: If you live down a cul-de-sac or a road with one entrance, then this is the perfect place to teach your child to ride. Watch out for neighbours, but you can guarantee most cars will be moving slowly. If you don’t live on a quiet road, then you shouldn’t be rule out travelling to one.
What Comes Next?
Hopefully, you feel ready to teach your child how to cycle. It’s a massive milestone in life for both you and your child, so having the best equipment, methods and location for the job can make the world of difference. Once they’ve started learning with balance bikes it won’t be long before your child is racing friends and nagging you to get their first pedal bike.