You may be wondering what are the skills required to ride a bike & how can we teach our children to do so!
Bike riding is an excellent opportunity for your child to participate in physical activity and develop healthy, lifelong habits.
Here, we’ll go through the types of bikes that are suitable for kids and the many skills involved in executing the task.
Many typically developing children will learn to ride a bicycle sometime between the ages of 3 and 6. However, we must keep in mind each child develops skills at their own pace. Children with disabilities may learn to ride a bike later in life. They may also require a bike with appropriate modifications to meet their abilities.
Prior to commencing the two-wheeler bikes, kids are often on a tricycle which teaches them the fundamentals. Like, coordinated leg movements, momentum, spatial awareness, and overall body strength to start to move onto a bicycle.
In addition to this, bicycles also require greater balance and body awareness as they’re higher off the ground. Here, the vestibular system kicks into gear and at times training wheels can add to the difficulty, offering a false sense of security & understanding of where your body is in space.
Bike riding encompasses many gross motor skills, including balance, bilateral coordination, postural strength, lower limb strength and core strength. Here are some tips & tricks to assist your child in learning to ride a bike through the various stages.
Balance Bikes like the Skuut are often a great place to start. These bikes have no pedals and allow a child to gain confidence and feel his balance while moving. The seat height is adjustable to allow your child’s centre of gravity to be lower to the ground initially and then gradually move up to the height that they would be on a bicycle.
Next, we have the pedal bike which means your child is ready to ditch the training wheels! I recommend trialling on a softer surface, such as grass at first where your children can practice balancing. Also, an area where there is a slight decline is useful to teach kids how to cruise down a hill prior to pedalling. Once your kiddo is ready to start pedalling, the grass will provide added resistance which is great for their proprioceptive system. They’ll start to make a connection as to how their lower extremities are feeling and remember the movement being performed.
First and foremost, we need to ensure the safety of our children.
Make sure your child has a properly fitting helmet, one that covers their forehead. An easy trick is to get your child to shake their heads from side to side without the helmet moving. The Y straps on the sides should be adjusted to sit just underneath your child’s ears.
Start by holding onto the back of your child’s seat as they pedal and gradually release your grip to allow them to feel their body adjusting to the fading support. You might think I’m crazy here, but by telling a new bike rider to go faster, the more proprioceptive input they get, allowing for quick motor learning and planning. This also emphasises the energy and awareness going into the task, rather than allowing fear to take over. Lastly, teach them the rules of the road & assure that they know how to stop and get themselves started back up without help.
If you need some assistance to help your child to learn to ride a bike, these companies will be able to help you.
There is a wide range of adaptations that can be made to bikes for children with special needs. These companies will be able to help you.