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Teaching your child to ride a bike

6th – 12th June 2022 is National Bike Week.  The idea behind the Week is to encourage as many people as possible to get out there and enjoy their community by bike.  As well as the obvious fitness advantages to cycling, a bicycle provides freedom – freedom to choose how to travel and how to live our lives better and healthier.  The organisers state that cycling is the answer to many questions – how can I help myself, my community, my county and my planet.

To celebrate National Bike Week, we thought it would be useful to set out how and when to teach a child to ride a bike.

A great way to teach your child to ride a bike, is to start with a balance bike.  Because a balance bike doesn’t have pedals, they allow your child to focus on how the bike feels, using their legs and feet to support them.  This encourages them to learn to balance; and because balance bikes are light, they encourage your child to jump on and off the bikes with ease.   The age at which a child can start using a balance bike will depend on the child, and can be anytime from the age of eight months to two years old – and these bikes are suitable for children up to five years old.

There are four key steps to helping your child learn how to ride a balance bike:

  1. Walking

  2. Sitting

  3. Running

  4. Gliding

To begin with, balance bikes help children learn how to walk whilst pushing the bike. Once their confidence has increased, your child can learn how to sit on the bike, walking with their feet placed either side of the frame. This technique will quickly increase their balance and coordination while riding.

Once your child has got used to this, they can then move onto sitting and walking with the bike, followed by balancing and running, whilst sitting on the bike. This may take practice, but their ability will soon increase. The fourth steps involve sitting, running and then gliding with their feet held up as they ride.

Following these four simple steps will help your child to build up their muscles and balance effectively, which is important to be able to ride a bike.

An alternative to learning to ride on a balance bike is to use one with stabilisers; alternatively a child may prefer to move from a balance bike to one with stabilisers, so they can continue to build their confidence.

The average age for a child to ride a bike without stabilisers varies. Children can learn to ride a bike without additional support between the ages of three to eight years old, or as soon as they’re comfortable riding their balance bike on their own.

Top tips to help your child ride a bike

  1. Start your child on a balance bike to help with their coordination

  2. Make sure the bike is set up correctly based on your child’s height

  3. Don’t hold onto the handle as they ride, this will prevent them from balancing by themselves

  4. Support your child by holding them, rather than holding on to the bike

  5. Ride on a flat, solid surface. Grass will slow down the ride and make it harder to pedal

  6. Stay near your child until they are confident with stopping by themselves, and getting on and off the bike again after they fall