How to Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike

How to teach a kid to ride a bike - SavvyMom

They’re too big for the bike carrier and the balance bike is a little boring now. It’s a rite of passage for any youngster — making the leap from training wheels to two wheels. And it’s a big deal for parents, too. But nobody teaches parents how to teach a kid to ride a bike. So here’s how…

How to Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike:
The First Step

The first step is to ensure they’re ready to take on the task of learning to ride a bike. Have they shown interest in riding? Have they asked to ride a “big kid” bike? Follow your child’s lead with regards to readiness, because if you push them before they’re ready they may not have a good experience. If they seem confident on a tricycle or bike with training wheels, consider making the transition to a proper two-wheeler. Generally speaking, children around the age of four have the balance and dexterity required to manage a bicycle.

How to Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike:
What Kind of Bicycle is Best?

Next, be sure their bike is sized properly for them. A quick trip to the local bike shop should take care of this, but most youngsters are around 14 or 16 inches bike size-wise. You want the seat low enough that they can comfortably touch the ground with their feet and legs straight while sitting on the seat.

If possible, opt for a bike that brakes by pedalling backwards, as young riders can have difficulty managing hand brakes. A balance bike comes without pedals and can help kids get the hang of balancing before adding in pedalling, if you desire. And remember, safety first! Ensure your little one has a properly fitted helmet before heading out on the pavement.

How to Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike:
Getting Started

Once you’re confident that your child is ready and has the right gear, it’s time to hit the trails — or, parking lot. Find a spot that isn’t too busy, where the terrain is relatively flat. An empty parking lot, a paved school playground, or a flat, well-trimmed field are all good options. While you’re holding the bike, have your little one practice pushing the pedals backwards to stop, and placing their feet on the ground.

Once your child is comfortable standing with their bike, continue holding it (the back of the seat is a good spot) and have them pedal forwards. Ask your child to look ahead where they want to go, rather than down at the ground in front of them. This helps ensure they steer as straight as possible. Run alongside holding the bike as your child pedals until they’re balanced and at a good pace. Then, let go! Allow them to stop when ready, or, if (when) they take a tumble. Repeat the process until your child gets the hang of it.

Part of learning how to teach a kid to ride a bike is figuring out how to keep them motivated when they struggle and fall.

When your little one takes a tumble, try not to get too upset, but offer reassurance and encouragement to get back on the bike and try again. If your child just isn’t ready to try again, that’s OK! End the lesson and try again another time. Some kids pick the skill up in just an afternoon, while others require a week or even longer to get the hang of it.

Riding should be a fun experience, so if it’s not or it becomes too stressful, end the lesson or consider hiring a professional for some help. (Here’s a Calgary-specific place!) If your child really isn’t interested, don’t sweat it — simply try again when they’re a little bit older. With a bit of persistence and a lot of practice, your child will be riding a bike in no time!

Can Bike Canada has a list of resources online for provincial laws, as well as places for kids to learn if they seem to need extra assistance. And once your littles are comfortable and confident on their own two wheels, check out our lists of bike paths for families in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, and Vancouver.


1 Comment

  1. Melissa Malejko on July 25, 2021 at 10:08 am

    Safer Cycling Calgary offers courses to teach kids how to ride.

    Some CAN-BIKE instructors offer these courses in other places, too.

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