The Best Way To Teach Your Child To Ride
I used the below method for teaching my 5 1/2 year old daughter to ride her
bike. One day she told me she wanted me to take off her training wheels
and she wanted to learn to ride. We first tried the method of me walking
behind her with much frustration. Then, I told her I wanted to try the
method I had read about in Bicycling magazine.
She rolled down the hill a few times dragging her feet. Then after a few
times she started picking up her feet as she rolled. after about 10 times she
was going down the hill the whole way without her feet touching the ground. I
told her to just start pedaling at the bottom of the hill and off she road.
Article from Bicycling Magazine June 2003
By BICYCLING editors
Helping your child learn to pedal a two-wheeler is a milestone-and an
unforgettable experience for both of you. Here's BICYCLING's preferred method,
which differs from the traditional run-beside-the-bike way most of us were
taught. We've found that it results in fewer crashes and a faster learning
time-many kids begin spinning on their own within 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the training wheels and lower the saddle so your child can put his
or her feet flat on the ground when seated.
- Find a grassy field with a gentle downhill of 30 yards or so. Short grass
is better because tall grass sucks momentum. The ideal area runs out to a
slight uphill to slow the child gradually.
- Strap on the child's helmet. Tuck in shoelaces.
- Midway up the hill, hold the bike while your child gets on. Have him or
her put both feet on the ground, then let go of the bike.
- Tell your child to lift his or her feet about an inch and coast down the
hill without pedaling. Try not to hold the bike to steady your child. Because
the child is coasting slowly, he or she can put his or her feet sown if
- Repeat until your child feels comfortable coasting and doesn't put his or
her feet down to stop. He or she might want you to run beside the bike the
first few times; do so, but don't hold the bike. Let your child feel the
- Now have your child put his or her feet on the pedals and coast down.
After several runs, have him or her begin pedaling as he or she rolls.
- Repeat until your child feels comfortable, then move up the hill. After
another run, raise the saddle and go to a flat part of the field or a
cul-de-sac to ride loops and to practice turning, braking and starting from a
If This Doesn't Work
Before you go to the run-beside-the-bike method try this:
- On a level surface, hold the back of the saddle as you push the bike at a
- Reassure the child that you won't let go, and tell him or her you'll play
The Balance Game.
- As you push, gently swing the saddle from side to side transitioning to
larger motions as your child gains confidence and proficiency. This teaches
your child how to adjust the handlebar and his or her body to maintain
balance-the key step to riding a bike.
- Play this game for 5-10 minutes, then go back to the hill.
Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes
- Don't make learning day on a new bike-it adds an unfamiliar bike to an
unfamiliar experience. If you buy a "big-kid" bike, let your child ride it
with training wheels before learning day, or take the training wheels off the
old bike, then use the new bike as a reward for mastering two-wheeling.
- Don't use the one-training-wheel method, don't trick your child by
claiming you're holding on when you're not. If the child crashes, you erode
trust, which erodes confidence. Before you begin a run, tell your child you
plan to let go at some point if he or she looks stable.
- Don't think the learning process will be crash-free. Be ready to comfort,
coerce, cheerlead and bandage-and possibly wait for another day.
- Don't think you're all alone. For help, plus info on topics such as riding
in traffic, check out the League of American Bicyclists (bikeleague.org).