Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Learning to Ride a Bike

Recently, Mr Sociable has perfected riding his "big boy" bike without training wheels. We started teaching him on holidays at Easter, but haven't done a lot of practice since then. This holidays, we spent a couple of days practising and he perfected the skill really quickly. I guess he was "ready" this time. He is pretty pleased with himself and we have had some great bike-riding adventures this school holidays.

Carss Park, Sydney NSW
So, here is a list of what worked for us:

1. Lower the seat
We lowered the seat so that Mr Sociable could easily put his feet on the floor to steady himself if he got wobbly.

2. Use a bike with a handle
Mr Sociable's bike came with a removable parent handle. In the early days of learning to ride, the handle made it heaps easier (both when he first learned to ride with training wheels and when he learned to ride without them). We forgot to take the handle to the caravan park at Easter, and we ended up using a tent pole instead when Franky's back got sore.

Mr Sociable on his 3rd birthday, riding his bike for the first time
Of course, you don't have to use a handle, but it is hard on your back!

Franky's back was pretty sore by the end of this holiday!
3. Tip the training wheels back
When we first started teaching him to ride without training wheels, we removed one training wheel completely. But we found that he just leant to the other side, rather than learning to balance. An "older" mum in the caravan park suggested leaving both training wheels on but just tipping them back a bit so they weren't on the ground all the time. This worked really well - the training wheels were there when he wobbled to one side, but they weren't in use when he was balancing well. We gave him lots of praise when he was able to balance without the training wheels touching the ground (you could tell when they touched the ground because they were pretty noisy!). As he got more confident, we tipped the training wheels further and further up, until they weren't being used at all (and we finally removed them).

One training wheel on - see how he leaned to the right?
4. Find a flat place to practise
I read that you should find a quiet, distraction-free place to practise - and I agree, it's much easier to practise when you don't have to worry about crashing into other kids. However, Mr Sociable needed a lot of encouragement when he first started learning so we did find it helpful to have other people around to show off to encourage him. We found a flat circuit was great for riding around and around without stopping (eg an empty carpark or large driveway).

Practising on the driveway at the holiday house
5. Lots and lots of praise
Mr Sociable needed lots of encouragement to keep trying. He has a tendency to give up on activities that don't come easily to him - so I was determined that he would work at this until he succeeded. It helped having other adults around for extra encouragement.

Campbelltown Bicycle Education Centre, Sydney NSW
Kendall Cottage Rotary Park, Ulladulla NSW

Have you taught a little person to ride a bike? What tips do you have to share?


Yvette said...

oh!! congrats!! I know my husband is just waiting for the day to teach our lil squirts to ride a bike!!

the parenting files - tahlia said...

Yay!!! Congrats! What a wonderful feeling it must be to see the little man now all so independent on his bike s

Rhianna @ A Parenting Life said...

Great tips, itnisncurrently on my list to do as well but we just haven't got there yet

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