Learning to ride a bicycle is one of life’s big milestones. It is a rite-of-passage, exciting yet potentially frightening at the same time.
There’s no set age for taking off on two wheels, but usually most children have enough balance and coordination by 4-6 years old to learn how to ride a bicycle with two wheels. Here are some steps and tips for teaching a child how to ride a bike without training wheels:
2. Start with a smaller bike or your child’s bike with the seat lowered so they can straddle the bike comfortably, with both feet flat on the ground.
3. Show your child how to balance on their bike without training wheels (you can take the pedals off to instantly transform their bike into a “balance bike“). Have them practice “walking their bike” or “scooting” to find their balance. “Scooting” involves taking larger and larger steps, using their feet to restore balance as they propel themselves forward. Encourage longer stretches of “scooting.” Have them continue practicing “scooting” until they feel comfortable and confident enough to hold their feet up while balancing at the same time.
4. Once balance has been practiced and mastered (at some level), raise the seat to its regular height and/or put the pedals back on. Teach your child the following:
- Look straight ahead. Guide them to look at an object in the near distance, straight ahead, and to focus on that instead of looking down or at you.
- Hold the handle bar straight. You can gradually introduce the concept that steering on a bike is accomplished by gently steering toward the direction you want to travel.
- Keep their knees and feet close to the bike. This will help with balance and they should have better control and not swerve as much.
- How to brake (either pedal backwards or handbrakes depending on the bike).
- How to fall…yes…everyone falls. Explain that falling is part of the learning process and when they fall, encourage them to get right back up and keep trying.
5. Add pedaling. Have them coast and then pedal. Start with one pedal, then both pedals. Keep practicing coasting and pedaling. Practice. Practice. Practice.
6. Don’t blink, because at this point, they have probably taken off and enjoying the independence and freedom! Way to go!!
Please remember that every child is unique and learns at a different pace. Your child may get the hang of riding a bike quickly or it may take several lessons and a lot of practice. Regardless, encourage your child and please do not make them feel badly if it takes them longer to learn. We all have different skills that we exceed at, and some that we don’t. Make this a fun experience that your child can look back on and have wonderful memories of.
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