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The Easiest Way to Teach Your Kid to Ride a Bike

Posted Sep 12 2011 8:29pm

Last summer I wrote about Ava learning to ride a bike with the “balance bike” approach .  Now I’m here to sing the praises of the balance bike approach once again – it worked for Thing 2, this time two years sooner!

The balance bike approach is exactly that; no training wheels, it’s just about learning to balance – pedaling comes later.  Ava learned on a really small bike, one that made it easy for her to sit on the seat while still being able to reach the ground with her feet.  This makes it easier for them to catch themselves when they start to tip and saves them from a lot of discouragement and frustration, making it easier for them to keep trying.

A “real” balance bike has no pedals, but Ava was 6 when she tried this and her legs were long enough that the pedals didn’t get in her way while she was learning to balance.  She’d already been riding a training wheeled bike for a couple of years by then, but was eager to learn to ride because all her friends were now riding without training wheels.  But like so many kids, taking the training wheels off was understandably scary and wasn’t fun for anyone, so the training wheels went back on.

But then a little bike fell into our laps, and we went the faux-balance bike route.  She learned to ride (stress free!) in about a half hour.  We then took the training wheels off her big bike and away she went!

Since Maxine was younger and shorter than Ava was when she learned, we took the pedals off for Max .  Knowing that even the littlest of little kids can learn to ride a bike when they learn to balance first , I thought she just might learn to ride this year even though she’s only 4.

But of course, when you’ve got certain expectations of your kid – your kid has other plans.  (Why don’t they teach that lesson in Parenting 101?)  Maxine simply had no interest in trying to balance all summer – it wasn’t fun or easy for her, most likely because her little legs weren’t long enough to reach the ground while sitting on the seat.

No problem, no pressure. But when I noticed recently that she seemed taller (special thanks to a summer full of fruit popcicles ?!) I thought it might be a good time try balancing again, thinking perhaps it would be easier for her now than it was 2 months ago.

So one day at the end of last week I asked her to just and sit and “walk” on the bike – and she was game.  Soon walking turned to running, running to turned to lifting her feet when she had enough momentum, and before I knew it, lifting her feet soon turned to Can We Put the Pedals Back on Already, Mom?

So here we are this morning, pedal-less.

Look Ma, No Pedals!

An old pro at balancing now (and also an old pro at yelling at the cat to get out the way):

With pedals back on this afternoon, she was off and riding before dinner time tonight! No need for a run today, I spent the entire afternoon chasing her up and down the sidewalk:

Got a kid you need to teach to ride a bike?  Forget training wheels – make your own balance bike!  I’m a true convert now.

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