Learning To Ride A Bike
When a child gets their first bike it's exciting and something of a milestone, but being spoilt for choice can be confusing! There are a whole host of options available and even the most laid-back of parents can find themselves befuddled as they try to find the best bike for their beloved child.
Children like the freedom of riding and therefore a trike is a good starting point. Toddlers as young as one can ride a trike and have years of fun. Trikes offer stability and give children confidence in developing their fledgling skills without much risk. With three sturdy wheels, a simplistic frame and a basic design, trikes are low enough for toddlers to clamber on themselves and mobile enough to introduce them to riding.
An alternative to the traditional trike is the balance bike. A smaller bike with no pedals, so it can only go as fast as your child can push it along, therefore, no high speed accidents. Small children also learn to balance much quicker as they don't have to worry about peddling at the same tim, which gives them much more confidence when they get their first 'big' bike. The balance bike not only helps them to build up their strength, it also helps them to fine tune their motor skills, coordination and agility, which will help in all sports as they get older.
For older children, the choice becomes wider. Suddenly, the parent has a youngster on their hands who has outgrown the trike and is eager to experiment with a bigger model. Between around three and five, children are ready for a 'proper' bike, usually some form of the popular pedal bikes we all know and love. If only it were that simple! In recent years, choice has evolved, with balance bikes now competing with traditional ones. A balance bike differs from a pedal bike as it simply has no pedals. A strange concept at first, but the theory is that by removing extras and reducing a bike to its frame, children learn the basic skill of balance and can then go straight to a pedal bike without the need for stabilisers.
Balance bikes come in many forms, from a lightweight wooden bike, through to a nifty two-in-one with detachable pedals that can be put on later, thus reducing the need to buy two bikes. Of course, the benefit of traditional bikes is that their method has been tried and tested, meaning a child can grow with their bike, form an attachment to it and feel a sense of pride when those stabilisers are finally removed.
Children can also be tempted into the world of mobility by the influx of nifty scooters which have exploded onto the market. Again these come in many forms, starting with a toddler version that has three wheels and is short in stature with easy to reach handlebars. These are an excellent introduction, as they stand on their own so that toddlers don't need to be able to balance to use. Over time, young children learn to balance and can then move on to a two wheel version.
It's important to mention that accidents happen, so safety is paramount. A well-fitting helmet will give peace of mind and protect the delicate head area. Measure the head and make sure you get a helmet that fits correctly, trying it on if possible. A good helmet should sit neatly on the forehead and remain in place with movement.
On the subject of safety, awareness is key. Children should be taught road safety to ensure they are responsible. A good technique is to start gradually, by introducing the child to safe spaces before later progressing to busier areas. The 'stop, look and listen' mantra will remind children to remain vigilant. There is always the option of lessons or proficiency classes to make sure cycling or scooting is safe, but also fun!
All children should learn road safety from an early age - THINK!-Road Safety Resources for Children from ages 3 to 16.
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