I know this sounds a little far-fetched, but you can actually teach your child to ride in about an hour. This doesn’t mean you need to be running around for an hour after them. All you need to do is be patient (harder than you might think), be positive, and encourage them.
However, this won’t be enough on its own you’ll also need a willing child that wants to learn. If they don’t want to learn, you’ll find it next to impossible to teach them.
This is where it pays to do your homework before you look at putting your child on two wheels. You’ll need to find a suitable grassy area with a gentle hill, not hundreds of meters long but about 50. The grass shouldn’t be very long and have holes or large stones/rocks that could hinder the rider.
The bike shouldn’t be massive; the smaller, the better when they’re first learning. You’ll need to remove the pedals and ensure that your child can place both feet firmly on the floor; this will give them confidence that they control the bike.
Ensure your child also has hand protection; full-fingered gloves and a good helmet is essential. This will also give your child the feeling that they’re safe; a frightened child won’t want to try anything new, so keeping it safe and exciting is necessary.
Ensure you get the right size bike
Your child shouldn’t be struggling with the bike when they first learn to ride. Finding the right size for your child is straight forward and requires about 2 minutes (with a willing child).
First, ask your child to stand with his back against the wall and then measure the inseam of your child. This will tell you what size bike you need to be looking at buying. Don’t be tempted to buy a larger bicycle that they’ll grow into, as this will just hinder them and their ability to learn to ride.
If your child is too old for a balance bike, you’ll need to remove the bike pedals so that they aren’t in the way.
One thing at a time
The goal is to learn all of the necessary skills of balancing, steering, pedalling, and braking. This is a lot to learn in one go, and I believe you see some parents running behind their child with one hand on the bike.
Break this down to one skill at a time and only move to the next when your child has truly mastered that skill. This way, the child will learn quicker, and it will be more fun for them going up and down the hill on a bike they control.
Learning to Balance
Start by walking ¼ of the way up the hill. This will enable your child to slowly coast down the hill and come to a halt near the bottom. Get them to sit on the bike with their feet firmly on the ground. By getting them to lift slightly, they should start to roll, ensure they drag their feet down the hill so that they get used to balancing.
As they get better at the balancing, move up the hill to about ½ way to give them a longer ride. All the while ensuring that you give plenty of encouragement and praise for their achievement
Learning to steer
Now that balancing is mastered, you’ll need to encourage your child to lift their feet a little so that they can learn to steer. They probably understood a bit of this during the balancing, but by lifting their feet from the ground, they’ll now know how to steer fully.
Don’t worry if you see your child put their feet down. They’ll do this the moment they sense a loss of control. This is a good thing; it helps slow them down and gives them the confidence they need to keep going.
Time to put the pedals back on
If you have a bike that has a foot brake, for this lesson, you’ll need to remove the chain as the pedals will turn when the bike goes along.
They’re ready to learn to pedal; with you holding the bike ask your child to sit on it and place their feet on the pedals. They’re now ready to coast down the hill; make sure that they understand that as the bike comes to a stop, they need to take their feet off the pedals and place them on the floor.
With a gentle push, let them coast down the hill, do this a few times, so they get the hang of putting their feet down as they come to a stop.
Now encourage them to pedal as they go down the hill; they’ll probably wobble at first. However, they’ll overcome this quickly. Once masted it’s time for the last skill to be learned.
Learning to use the brakes
If your child is using a bike with a foot brake, it will be time to put the chain back on. You’ll need to show your child how that works by pedalling backward. Now let your child ride around practicing by going more across the hill until they’re used to pedalling backward.
Go to the top of the hill, and let them have a long ride while enjoying the moment that you have both worked for.
It’s important for your child to be aware of the safety aspect of cycling. Why it’s essential to wear a helmet and be seen while on the road. You’ll need to teach them about positioning and road awareness so that they can enjoy the ride while being safe.
Your child’s coordination and personality will determine the speed at which they learn. This technique has worked well in teaching several family members to ride and friend’s children and is tried and tested. If you follow these simple steps when teaching your child, they’ll be cycling before you know it.