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Want to know when to take off the training wheels? These 7 simple steps will help when teaching your child how to ride a bike!
Thank you to Dynacraft for sponsoring this post.
I was just about the least athletic child on earth. I quit softball after a year or two (I also got hit in the face when I couldn't catch the ball), I hated PE in school, and it just wasn't my thing. But some of my best childhood memories? Are of riding my bike around our hometown ( I used to ride to school everyday in fourth and fifth grade). Lydia is 100% my child, and while she loves climbing and playing…..she's definitely not the most naturally athletic (although balled class is her JAM). When she started begging to get a REAL big kid bike, I'm not going to lie…..I was a little apprehensive. Was I supposed to immediately take off the training wheels? Are there steps? Anything specific I needed to know when teaching a child to ride a bike? After a little research (and some epic crowdsourcing with friends who have older children)…..I have a plan.
Taking Off the Training Wheels: 7 Simple Steps to Teaching a Child How to Ride a Bike
Lydia will be turning four next week. The average age for kids to learn to ride a bike? Between age three and age five. So we're RIGHT in that timeframe. But remember, that INCLUDES riding with training wheels. Our goal? To spend the next few months going through this process as slowly as necessary. Like most new skills, this will be a LOT harder for Lydia to learn if it's forced or stressed. Our plan is to have fun, and to help her SAFELY learn to ride a bike on her own schedule.
Step 1: Select a Bike and Helmet
Let your child make some choices here. Lydia was OVER THE MOON excited when she selected this bike from Dynacraft. The My Little Pony design is right up her alley (I mean, it even has Rainbow Dash Pony-Tail streamers)! And I love that it has a Coaster brake, a lifetime warranty on the frame, and removable training wheels. It's a GREAT, sturdy, safe bike for learning to ride. It's also pretty adorable that she keeps storing her My Little Pony toys in the handlebar bag.
We selected a helmet that had a high safety rating, and she loves that it matches her bike.
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Step 2: Training Wheels
Start with training wheels. Training wheels are an important part of learning to ride a bike. They allow your child to transition from sitting down on a tricycle to sitting more upright and pedaling without falling (this is the stage we are currently in). Start by pushing your child on a bike WITH training wheels. The goal? For them to get used to this position and to learn that they won't fall (especially if you have a super cautious kid like mine).
Step 3: Pedal Practice
Now that your child is used to sitting upright and balancing with training wheels ON…..the goal is to practice pedaling and moving the bike forward. You'll still be close by for this (you haven't practiced braking yet)! Pedaling DOWN on a bike is a little different than pedaling forward on a tricycle. Start by pushing the bike and asking your child to keep their feet ON the pedals. Once they are used to that circular motion, then let them pedal on their own.
Step 4: Brake Practice
Once you can move, you'd better know how to stop. Practicing moving the bike forward and braking easily. For fun, set out stop signs or even simple shapes on the ground in chalk…..challenge your child to bike in a straight line to each of those stop points and to brake ON the shape.
Step 5: Driving and Turning
Mastered pedaling and stopping? With the training wheels STILL on, now it's time to twist and turn. Most kids can ride a bike in a straight (or semi straight) line…..but when it comes to curving around a tree or turning at the end of a street? That's when they tip over. Practice turning and curving until they've mastered it!
Step 6: Take Off the Training Wheels
Mastered pedaling, turning, braking and balancing? Once your child feels ready, it's time to remove the training wheels! Start by pushing them forward and supporting with a hand…….and when they seem stable……..see if they can ride a few feet on their own (remind them they can put their feet down on the ground if they feel unsteady).
Step 7: Let it Go
Have they got it? Head out on your first short family bike ride (sans training wheels).
Have you moved beyond training wheels? Leave your tips for learning to ride a bike in the comments, so we can all benefit! And if you know someone teaching their kiddo to ride a bike, don't forget to share this post on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter using the share buttons!