learning to ride bike gettyimages 600064648 682x408

MOVE

Learning to ride a bike–a challenge for kids and parents

Nothing compares to the freedom and simple joy a child feels when he pedals a bike on his own for the first time.  

The accomplishment also has many physical and mental health benefits: 

  • boosting his self-esteem
  • helping him to socialize with other kids
  • increasing his endurance and muscle strength
  • improving his balance and coordination.

Yet, learning to ride a bike is complicated and not every child takes to it easily. It can leave some kids, and their parents, feeling frustrated and unsure of what to do next.

The reason for this is simple: it takes many different body systems to be in sync to balance and pedal a bike. Your child’s body needs to know where he is in space, be able to sense his movements and speed, and stay balanced and oriented. He also needs strength in his legs to pedal, and in his core, chest and arms to control the handle bars. If your child has difficulty with any one of these body systems, it can be more challenging to put it all together to ride a bike. 

As with learning any new and difficult skill, breaking down the task and practicing it in parts can help prepare your child to ride a bike. 

  • Find a safe practice space. Choose a traffic-free area that is large and smoothly paved where he can learn to ride safely. Some good places include a park path, empty parking lot or empty basketball court.
  • Get comfortable with a bike that doesn’t have training wheels. Have him hold the handle bars and walk with the bike, turn in different directions, practice using the kick stand and get on and off the bike. Support your child as he holds the bike, but don’t support the bike yourself.
  • Do a few stationary drills. Have him get on the bike, lift both feet and balance in place, tipping side to side and using his feet to catch himself.
  • Practice glide and balance. Lower the seat so his feet are flat on the ground, and have him propel the bike forward with his feet, gliding and balancing as he feels comfortable. Riding a scooter and increasing the glide time is another great way to work on this skill.
  • Put it all together. Once he's mastered balance, handle bar control and can consistently glide on his bike for five to 10 seconds at a time, he’s ready to begin working on putting all the skills together with pedals.

There are also many great community resources to help your child learn to ride a bike, so you don’t have to go it alone. Let’s Get Biking is a group class for children and their parents offered every spring through Courage Kenny Kids. The class begins indoors with activities building a child’s strength and balance, then moves outside where kids work on various drills on their own bikes.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Share this article

MORE LIKE THIS

Ten activities for your own backyard Olympics

You can create an Olympic style competition in your backyard to teach children how to incorporate fun and creativity into exercise. Not only does it promote physical activity with kids, but friendly competition can teach children about teamwork and how to be a gracious winner or loser.

Continue reading

EMPOWER YOURSELF


Get fun, inspiring, provider-reviewed articles sent to your inbox.

Sign up for our email newsletter