The best way to teach a child to ride a bike is a “balance bike”
A balance bike is a kind of scooter, with a seat but without pedals. A balance bike teaches a child to ride on his or her own, at low speed, without crashes or fear.
A child must experience the sensation of balance to gain confidence and learn the skill of riding.
Methods that do NOT work to teach a child to ride a bike:
- A bike with training wheels does NOT teach a child how to ride a bike. Training wheels turn a bike into a kind of tricycle that does not teach balance.
- Running alongside the bike while the child “rides” does NOT teach a child how to ride a bike. Running and holding up the bike is another failed simulation of balance, just like training wheels.
- Pushing your child on the bike and letting go. Yes, this may give them the brief sensation of balance but usually ends in a crash, NOT the best way to teach a child to ride a bike.
Steps to Teach a Child to Ride Using a Balance Bike
- The child begins seated on the balance bike on a flat surface with feet flat on the ground.
- Once comfortable sitting on the balance bike, the child can try lifting their feet for a moment. Balancing for a moment offers the genuine experience of balance while seated on a bicycle.
- Once comfortable lifting their feet, the child can try moving forward. He or she should “coast” or “glide” forward for only for about a foot or two and then catch themselves.
- Moving the bike forward and then stopping, the child remains in complete control, without the need for training wheels or you to hold them up.
- The feeling of balance lasts only a split second. But it is the actual sensation of riding. It is REALLY riding a bike.
- After the child practices coasting forward a few feet at a time, he or she can begin gliding farther. With greater confidence, a child will lift their feet longer and longer.
- Increasing the coasting distance is entirely under the child’s control.
Here’s the real secret of “teaching” anyone how to ride a bike. It can’t be done!
A person must learn to ride a bike on his or her own. The best way to teach a child to ride a bike is to not attempt to teach them!
The best way to teach a child to ride a bike is to give them the right equipment, a balance bike.
You can make a balance bike by taking the pedals off of the child’s bike and lowering the seat. Or you can buy a balance bike designed specifically for the purpose of teaching your child to ride. A balance bike is appropriate at a much younger age, but it’s still A REAL BIKE.
Best Balance Bike
Also known as a “PREbike” or “running bike,” a bike without pedals may seem like a waste of money. Unlike a regular bike with the pedals removed, a balance bike is designed for pre-biking, including a built-in foot rest.
Strider PREbike Balance Running Bike
Adjustable handlebar and seat height to fit riders from 30 to 44 inches tall (saddle height adjusts from 11 to 16 inches from ground). The optional Extra-Long Seatpost with Saddle is recommended for children 4 years and older (adjusts from 14 to 19 inches from the ground). Integrated footrest.
Trikke Bikee Balance Bike
The Bikee balance bike by Trikke gives kids 2 to 5 years old of age an easier way to get comfortable and confident on two wheels. Integrated footrest. Super light weight — less than 7 lbs. Saddle is 14.5″ at lowest position and 19″ at highest
Kazam Balance Bike
For ages three to six, the Kazam has real inflated tires and spokes. Weight: 11.2 pounds, weight capacity: 75 pounds, adjustable seat: 14 to 17.5 inches
You may have tried the training wheels route, or the exhausting running beside the bike method, WHICH DO NOT WORK to teach a child to ride a bike.
You weren’t “taught” to ride a bike, you had to learn on your own.
As much as you may want to, you can’t teach a child to ride a bike, either.
You CAN give them the magical kind of bike — the balance bike, running bike, pre-bike — that makes learning to ride a two-wheeler natural, safe and fun!
Want to read more on the training concept before you invest in a balance bike? I don’t blame you!
(Note: I have no affiliation with the author. When I ordered and read this book it forever changed my understanding of how a child can learn to ride a bike without tears, training wheels, or exhaustion. Highly recommended. Remember to come back and order a balance bike!)