Children go through several different phases when learning to ride a bike: learning to balance, pedalling and braking. They can’t learn all of these steps at the same time, and balance is obviously the top priority.
FINDING YOUR BALANCE ON A CHILDREN’S BIKE
Finding balance on a bike is no doubt one of the hardest stages to go through. Children often fall over because they are turning their handlebar too much or too little.
When learning to balance, the balance bike is the most effective option. From age 2 and up, this pedal-less bike allows children to become familiar with bikes while maintaining control.
The balance bike: learning to cycle, child-style
Some people would say that using a balance bike makes learning to pedal more difficult later on. Since the child has only been focusing on their balance they will indeed have to learn to pedal at a later stage, but this is much easier to learn.
Moving from a balance bike to pedalling is easy with the Woony, a balance bike that transforms into a real bike with an easy-to-fit drivetrain system.
The Woony, as well as the Run Ride balance bike, has a brake that also allows children to learn about braking from an early age. This braking system is called the STOP EASY.
STOP EASY when braking becomes child’s play
Nevertheless, not all children will get on well with a balance bike when learning to balance.
HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD SAFELY AND WITH CONFIDENCE
Training wheels are additional wheels mounted parallel to the rear wheel of a bicycle that assist learners until they have developed a usable sense of balance on the bicycle.
The training wheel has various advantages:
- First of all for the child: they won’t fall over, they will stay motivated. They will learn to cycle much faster as they gradually find their balance. It’s child’s play
- Training wheels are great for learning the skill of pedalling. But at the same time training wheels can be counterproductive in learning to balance.
GRADUATING TO A REAL CHILDREN’S BIKE
At first, position the saddle so that your child can put both of their feet flat on the ground while sitting on it.
While stationary, show your child the ideal riding position: back straight, head up, hold the handlebar firmly and look ahead. Show them the brakes and how to use them.
The child must understand that they control the bike, not the other way around. To do so, they can start by pushing the bike a short distance while walking (like with a balance bike), and always looking ahead. This allows them to become familiar with the bike and its weight.
Your child can also practise getting on and off the bike on their own. They must know how to get off the bike as quickly as possible, that is, being able to let it go and step away from it once off it.
TIPS FOR LEARNING TO RIDE A BIKE
Here are two tips for children to help them keep their balance;
- Ride with a little bit of speed and look ahead into the distance.
- Learn to push off
- You stop the bike by putting on the brakes, you lift a pedal and put your foot on it. You let go of the brakes and push on the pedal to go forward. You can then put the other foot down on the second pedal and start pedalling.
- You move by pushing on the ground with one foot while the other foot is on the pedal which is down. When the bike starts moving, you have a little time in which to put the free foot on the high pedal, push down, and keep going.
- You can also remind them to keep pedalling and help them keep up the pace: “pedal, pedal,…”.
At low speeds, it is always more difficult to keep your balance than at a moderate speed.
You must always check that the child:
- positions their feet on the pedals
- uses the brakes to stop
- keeps their head nice and straight and looks far ahead
A bend or an obstacle will often force the child to change direction. To do so, they must:
- spot the obstacle and the direction to take
- stop pedalling
- hold the handlebar firmly
- always look towards where they want to go
The secret? Have fun, and just keep riding! Let the child have fun and practice away from traffic. Cycling must be almost automatic before they attempt to ride on public roads.