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Make gaining new skills fun by teaching a child cycling tips in 6 steps

Teaching a child to ride a bike isn't just a parental goal; it has gone national. Bikeability, the government's flagship cycle training programme, offers every child in England the chance to learn to ride a bike. With schools starting cycle- or walk-to-school schemes to promote greener thinking and net-zero emission targets, cycling is increasingly becoming a skill that also saves the planet. Teaching a child cycling tips equips them with an essential life skill. It is a milestone for them and an absolute joy for you. So, where do we begin?

6 tips to get your child cycling confidently

Riding without pedals

Interestingly, a bike with pedals won't cut it at the first go. Learning to balance and pedal can be too much for a young child. A balance bike with no pedals is the best starting option. It is a pedal-less bike with two wheels, powered by a child's running legs rather than pedals. Or, you can simply take the pedals off a normal bike.  Kids learn to balance on two wheels and ride independently. Balance bikes are more beneficial than stabilisers/training wheels. Stabilisers keep the bike in a rigid & upright position that prevents children from learning to lean, balance, and steer. A two-wheeler without pedals helps children learn to balance and steer while taking their feet off the ground at the same time.

Focus firmly on the path ahead

You want a traffic-free smooth flat tarmac to practice on. Choose paved roads, streets, basketball courts, or an empty tennis court. Although grass offers a softer landing, it doesn’t provide the momentum for coasting and gliding. Grass also makes pedaling more difficult. A gentle sloping gradient makes things much easier when kids start to get the hang of scooting.

Teach how to balance the bike

The most fundamental part of a child learning how to ride a bike is the balancing act. While some kids may instinctively master it, others need guidance. For this, you may want to replace the pedals or switch them to a bike with pedals. Sit your child on the bike as you stand in front of the bike, facing them. Squeeze the front wheel between your knees to steady the bike. Ask them to lift their feet off the ground and place them on the pedals. They should remain upright without wobbling.

Ask them to let go of the handlebar to better balance without the need to lean forward. Some kids might not be ready for this, but it is a useful tactic. Give them the confidence to try. The bike will feel lighter to you when they are balancing it themselves. With their hands back on the handlebar, show them how to lean into a steer. Let them turn the handlebar. They will see that by leaning the other way, the bike will go one way, and they will go the other way. After they take note of the handlebar behaviour, let them scoot the bike several metres. Gently nudge them to go a little faster. A child is ready for pedals once they know how to balance.

Pedals-on riding

Let them stride and glide with pedals as footrests first. Sitting on the saddle, with one foot (usually the left) firmly on the ground, they should hook the right pedal up into the two o’clock position with the right foot whilst holding the brakes. This position puts the pedal in line with the down tube, which is where the bike's maximum forward momentum is. When they stop, it is where the rider’s feet should be as well. Hold on under their arms as they practice pushing off with the right pedal. Once they learn to push off and lift their left foot onto the left pedal without looking down, they are ready to pedal forwards. They will still need your support. Hold them gently under the arms or the middle section of the child's back.

Letting go

Once a child starts pedalling, they should also know how to squeeze the brakes to stop the bike. Remind them to look ahead & not down, keep a straight back, loosen shoulders, and relax. As they get the pedal, balance, steer & stop combination right unaided, you can go hands-off. They might need a nudge now and then to keep the bike moving a bit faster.

Practice without help

Once you teach a child to cycle on their own, they need regular practice to build their confidence in their new skill. It is customary for kids to have the odd tumble, but the important thing is they are not discouraged and start to love the newly won skill. 

Teaching a child how to ride a bike is equipping them with a skill essential to life. It is another leap towards their independence. Giving them a head start at an early age ensures they gain plenty from pedal power. Buy the latest innovations in electric kids' bikes in the UK from Mini Bikes Off Road.

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