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Learn How to Ride a Bike
Your kids can learn how to ride a bike on their own!
Learning to ride a bike can be easy! This photo is typical of how most kids learn to ride a bike. Countless hours of wobbling down a relatively flat stretch of road or sidewalk with a parent hanging on to the handlebars or seat.
More often than not, both the child and the parent get frustrated by the experience, and it takes many many tries before the child finally learns how to ride a bike.
It doesn't have to be this way!
This lens will show you the secret to helping your child learn to ride a bike all on their own!
Photo by Ed Yourdon
Why is learning to ride a bike so hard?
Because there are too many things going on at once.
Think about it. Your child has to worry about steering, balance, and pedaling all at the same time. That's a lot of stuff to figure out!
What if you remove one of the variables?
The hardest part about learning to ride a bike is figuring out how to balance. But the pedals keep getting in the way and complicating things. And if you're just learning how to balance, imagine how much harder balancing becomes when your feet are all over the place because of moving pedals.
The Europeans figured this out a long time ago, and now I'll share their secret weapon with you.
Photo by Jonny Hunter
Introducing the secret weapon! - The fun and easy way for kids to learn how to ride a bike ON THEIR OWN!
Take a close look at this wooden bike - No pedals!
Does it work? - Here's a video of my son learning to ride a bike by himself at the age of 4.
Both of my children taught themselves how to ride a bike using this wooden balance bike when they were 4 years old!
This video is of my older son from a few years ago. He had been shuffling around on the bike for a while - using it along with his other ride-on toys. Then one day he pushed off and kept going without putting his feet down! I pulled out my Blackberry to film it and asked him to do it again. Here's the video.
How does it work?
It lets the child focus on balance.
When your child first starts using a wooden learning bike she may walk along with it, moving one foot at a time. The bike will wobble from side to side as she shifts her weight. It looks a little awkward, but she's getting the feel of the bike.
After a while, she will start pushing with both feet at the same time. This is when the real learning happens. At first she'll make short pushes, rushing to get her feet back under her as fast as she can. But inbetween each push your child is actually balancing! In time the pushes will get longer and longer.
Before you know it your child will push off and keep on going!
Why does it work?
Because it lets your child focus on balance without fear of falling.
On a regular bike there is that awkward transition moment from being stationary to being in motion. This is the time when your child is most likely to fall. The bike isn't going fast enough to balance well, but he can't make it go faster without pedaling. So he rushes to get his feet on the pedals and push while the handlebars are swaying wildly from side to side, and more often than not he falls.
Then he doesn't want to do it again, and who could blame him?
If your child does manage to get going, the next problem comes when he has to stop. He has to pedal backwards to get the bike to stop, and then when it does he has to quickly remove his feet from the very thing that is stopping him and get them on the ground before toppling over.
With the wooden learning bike your child's feet are already on the ground for these critical transition moments!
Your child pushes with both feet on the ground, giving him perfect stability and starting his motion in perfect balance.
He brakes using his feet, so again he is well grounded and stable.
This takes away the fear of falling, removes the complication of pedals, and allows your child to focus on balance.
Photo by Richard Masoner
Do you remember?
Take our poll and let us know how your learned to ride a bike when you were a kid!
How did you learn to ride a bike?
Let your child teach herself how to ride a bike the easy way!
And enjoy standing by and watching instead of pushing and holding.
This technique has been proven to work around the world. It's more fun for both your child and for you. It builds confidence and self-esteem for your child. And it's less stress for you!
Wood learning bikes are becoming more widely available in the US. Take a look at your local Target or department store for the least expensive options. If you can't find one there, try your local bike store (will probably be more expensive), or try the links below to buy one online.
Have fun watching your child teach herself how to learn to ride a bike!
Wood bikes you can buy online - If you can't find one at a store near you, take a look at these!
Below are a range of options, starting from a basic model that works great, to some more expensive models. Pick the one that's right for you and your child.
My personal viewpoint is that you don't need to pay over $100 for a wood balance bike. The price difference can be very significant (over $300 for the LIKEaBIKE), but I don't see that much difference in the materials or quality. Consider the amount of time your child will actually spend on the bike before they learn and graduate to a bike with pedals. Both of my children learned on a basic model that we bought on sale for around $70 (it's the bike in my video above), and it's still in good enough condition to yard sale or pass on.