How to Teach a Child to Pedal a Bikeby Kathryn Hatter
Making little legs go round and round to power a bike can present more of a challenge than you expect. When your little one is ready for the big league -- and wants to pedal a two-wheeler -- it's quite a milestone. If his balance isn’t quite there yet, give him a little help with training wheels or your own steadying presence. There's no right age to start your little one on a two-wheeler. It depends on his level of coordination -- and how developed his locomotor skills, like hopping are skipping, are. If your preschooler can walk a straight line, knows how to hop and is learning how to skip, before you know it, he’ll pedal like a pro, burning up the driveway and walkways.
Items you will need
- Bicycle helmet
Find a brain bucket – also known as a bicycle helmet – the properly fits little one and fasten it snugly. When you make a helmet and a bicycle a non-negotiable duo, your little one will learn that one always requires the other.
Help your little one onto the bicycle and check the sizing. When seated, his feet should firmly reach the ground.
Adjust the pedal for his dominant foot so that it’s at the 2 o'clock position – forward of the straight-up position. Have him place his foot on this pedal while leaving the other foot flat on the ground. Tell him to hold onto the handlebars with both hands but not to sit -- at least not yet. He’s now ready for two-wheeling action!
Tell your child to push down on his dominant foot to move the pedal down and make the bike move forward. As the bike moves, he should sit down on the seat. Watch to see how much success he has balancing after making the bike move forward. If he’s got training wheels on his bike, he shouldn’t need help balancing. However, if doesn't have training wheels, be ready to help steady him.
Explain how he needs to push the pedals round and round with his feet to make the bike move. After he starts the bike moving with the pedals, the momentum should help him keep the pedals going around. If he gets stuck when trying to get the pedals up and around the top of the arc, give him a tiny nudge on the back of the seat while he keeps pushing with his feet -- as this should provide the extra "oomph" he needs to keep going.
Show your little one how to stop her bike by pushing backwards on either pedal to engage the coaster brake. While she could also simply stop pedaling and put her feet on the ground to stop, using the brake is a safe biking practice.
- Don’t forget about steering. Sometimes pedaling is so all-consuming that a child can forget to steer. To avoid unfortunate collisions with trees and unsuspecting pedestrians, remind your little one to steer while he pedals.
- While learning to steer, guide in to pedal in large circles -- and even figure-eight shapes. Encourage him to keep his speed down while he gets good at pedaling and steering together.
- Once pedaling is old hat, remove the training wheels if you had them on the bike. Your little guy will need a little help initially to get the hang of balancing, but kids generally learn this with minimal practice.
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