Pushing off on a bike can prove tricky for children! In order to set off without losing their balance, your child, first of all, needs to be able to put their feet on the pedals without looking. If one of their feet slips, they want to be able to easily find the pedal again.
To teach them how to push off, get them to position their front foot higher than the pedal’s axle. This will give them more power for turning the pedals and will increase their speed so that it’s easier to stay balanced.
You can also get them to try a few exercises: have them begin on a gentle downhill slope to make things easier. Once they’ve managed a few turns of the pedal, switch to flat ground, then move on to a slight uphill slope. This will improve their balance, technique and pedalling power.
2. Balance - Do a Slow Race!
Either alone, with you or with a friend, get your child to cycle slowly in order to work on their stability. Set out a course and organise a slow race: time how they do to make it more of a challenge!
This will help them with cycling slowly, pushing off or dealing with pedestrians.
3. Steering - Your Child in Full Command
Help your child to steer their bike and maintain control by setting them a few exercises, depending on their age and agility:
– Teach them to stay the course. Get your child to follow a line by teaching them to look ahead of themselves. You can then stand a little way away and point to either the right or left to get them to turn one way or the other. It’s a good way of checking that they’re looking far enough ahead!
– Help them to get better at controlling their kids’ bike and improving their accuracy. Set up a slalom course for your budding cyclist, with cones or ground markings placed far enough apart for them to be able to manoeuvre without falling over. Little by little, move the cones closer together to help your child progress. You can also create a variant with a figure-of-eight course.
– Develop your child’s reactions by teaching them to look ahead. Either in a car park or somewhere where there’s no traffic, get them to follow you and copy what you do. Use your arms to signal each time you turn. They should follow your instructions and steer in the same direction.
4. Braking - Teach Your Child Precision and Power
If your child can maintain their balance, pedal and turn easily, make sure you also explain how to brake safely! A quick reminder: for powerful yet risk-free braking, the best balance is 1/3 at the back and 2/3 at the front. Here are two exercises that teach your child to brake effectively while developing their reactions:
– Improve their braking by tracing a line on the ground where they must stop. Gradually increase the speed at which they ride towards the line. This will get them used to judge braking distance for when they’re at a crossroads or traffic light.
– Improve their reactions by getting them to ride wherever they want in a safe area with no traffic. When you shout “STOP”, your child should brake and put their foot down. When you shout “GO”, they should set off again. This exercise will prepare them for the dangers of cycling on public roads.
Important: to keep your child safe, all of these exercises must be done away from traffic, preferably in an empty car park.
These fun exercises will help your child to learn the basics of cycling while enjoying themselves! By building up their reactions, steering and balance, they will gain confidence in their bike and learn to ride safely in an urban environment.