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Get Outdoors: Learning to Ride a Bike

For most kids, learning to ride a bike is a childhood rite of passage. Once you learn to ride a bike, it is a skill you never forget. There are different methods and approaches that parents can use to teach kids to ride their bikes. Above all, it is important to keep the experience fun. Not all kids learn the same so it may take trying some different methods before they get the hang of riding. It is also important to keep safety in mind when teaching kids how to ride a bike outdoors.

When exactly you child will be ready to learn to ride a bike will depend on their physical and mental development as well as comfort level. Kids as young as three can learn to ride bikes but it is important not to push kids that do not feel ready to learn.

Choosing a Bike

Choosing the right bike for your child is an important part of the process. People often think its good to buy a bike that is a bit larger that the child can "grow into" but this can actually slow down the learning process. Your child should have a bike that is the correct fit. Kids should be able to stand over the top bar of the bike with both of their feet firmly on the ground. In addition to the correct fit, it is important for kids to have a bike that they feel comfortable on and in control of when riding.

The Importance of Bike Helmets

Safety is an important part of learning how to ride a bike. Kids as well as adults should wear a properly fitting helmet whenever they are on a bike. Equally important to wearing a bike helmet is making sure you have one that fits correctly. A bike helmet should sit on the middle of the forehead and be no more than one inch above the eyebrows. If the helmet moves a lot from side to side or front to back, or sits on the forehead, you may need to adjust the fit or buy a new helmet all together. For new riders, knee pads and elbow pads may also be a good idea to prevent injuries during falls.

Teaching Kids to Ride

Once your child has their bike, helmet, and any other necessary gear, it is time to get to riding. You should try to find a traffic free area where kids can learn to ride safely. It will also help to ideally find an area that is smooth, flat, free of obstacles like benches and paved. Ideas for areas include school blacktop, empty basketball or tennis courts, and empty parking lots. Most kids begin learning how to ride with training wheels. While training wheels can help kids become accustomed to pedaling and sitting on a bike, they will not help with balance. To learn balance, the training wheels must be taken off. When this is done, the seat should be lowered so your child's feet will be flat on the ground, making them feel more comfortable. It may help to remove the bike pedals so kids can practice coasting and scooting the bike before actually pedaling with no training wheels. Scooting and coasting will help kids get a feel for balancing the bike.

Once kids have learned to balance a bike, they need to learn how to steer and turn. They should start with big, easy turns and gradually work up to sharper turns. It might be fun to set up some traffic cones that your kids can steer through for practice. Once kids have the basics of balancing, steering, and turning, it is time to learn how to pedal. It can help to place a hand on the bike seat or your kids shoulders to keep them steady and balanced. As kids start to get used to pedaling, they can begin practicing turns. It is also important to practice how to stop the bike and make sure kids know how to use the brakes.

Learning how to ride a bike can be a lot of fun and is a skill that will stick with you for life. If you keep the learning process fun, kids will want to ride bikes, which is a great form of physical activity. It is important to remember to keep safety in mind when riding and wear a helmet at all times.

Additional Resources on Bike Riding

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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