A child’s early years can make your life exciting, and whether it’s watching them take their first few tentative steps or wishing them off on their first day of school, you can be sure that you’ll be involved at every step along the way. While this will be full of sentimental, moving and life-changing movements for you and your child, it also means that you need to start making more decisions regarding their safety and well-being as your child seeks to explore their environment more and more.
There aren’t many milestones that really develop a child’s independence more than learning to ride a bike. Like with all early milestones, you’ll be there, teaching them and offering a hand along the way. As you might be new to all of this, you might be starting to wonder, when is the best time to learn how to ride a bike? We’ve put together this small guide to help you understand when the perfect time is to start teaching.
Which Age Is Best for Learning to Cycle?
The honest answer here is that there really isn’t a best time. The average age is between four and six years old, so we would recommend following their progress and trying to understand when they’ve got a good grip of walking and are starting to show better spatial awareness and motor controls. It could be that your child isn’t quite ready yet, or it could be that they are chomping at the bit from before the ages of four.
It’s important to remember that it doesn’t really matter when you start to ride a bike. If you’re teaching your toddler from the ages of two or three, then using a balance bike can help your child focus on balance without them having to worry about pedals. Similarly, if you’re early teen or even an adult, then there’s no time like now to start learning.
The Benefits of Cycling
There is a multitude of benefits to a kid learning to cycle. Not only does it offer physical benefits such as stronger leg muscles and bones, improved stamina and better cardiovascular development, but it can also improve spatial awareness, motor skills and agility. Cycling can be the very time a person has a little independence, so it can improve confidence at a key stage in early development too.
Our Top Tips for Beginners
- Wait until your child is ready: Don’t let your child run before they can walk. If your little one isn’t ready to cycle yet but is four years old, wait for another year before rushing them into it.
- Teach them in 45 minute sessions: We would recommend sticking to training sessions of between 45 minutes and an hour. This won’t put too much pressure on their bones and won’t overdo it.
- Focus on balance over steering: Focusing on balance over steering means that your child will learn to cycle faster. Balance is the number one key skill to learning to ride a bike.
- Find a quiet spot: Find a place away from traffic and noise while teaching your child. If it’s on a gentle slope that’s all the better.
- Use balance bikes over training wheels: Balance bikes don’t come with gears or pedals. They work by letting your child push their way along to improve balance, and are thought to teach a child to cycle faster than using stabilisers.
Why Should I Consider Balance Bikes?
Balance bikes are taking over parks, roads and gardens, and are becoming increasingly popular in teaching children how to ride a bike from an even earlier age. Balance bikes don’t come with stabilisers, pedals, gears and even brakes, and they work by letting your child push the bike along with their feet. The main aim of a balance bike is to teach your child how to cycle without them having to worry about steering or control, rather allowing them to focus on balance instead.
Balance Bikes vs Training Wheels
One of the most important decisions when teaching your child to ride a bike is what equipment and what bike they should be using. It’s becoming more and more common to use a balance bike over stabilisers or training wheels. It’s now considered that:
- Balance bikes are safer: A balance bike can only move as fast as a child can push it, and they can put their feet down stop it in it’s motion. This makes balance bikes a very safe choice.
- Balance bikes are easier to use: All your child needs to do to operate a balance bike is push along with their feet, making them super easy to use.
- Balance bikes are hassle-free: Balance bikes don’t come with stabilizers, pedals, brakes, gears or a chain, and require little to no assembly to start. This makes life easier for you.
- Balance bikes are better for learning: By focusing on balance rather than steering, your child can learn the number one skill of cycling from an earlier age.
- Start from an earlier age: Most stores sell balance bikes for the ages of 12 months and above. For example, a 12-inch balance bike might be suitable for a toddler between the ages of two and three, however, a 14 inch balance bike would be suitable for the ages between four and five.
Don’t Rush Your Child, Ensure Safety and Enjoy It
Remember that riding to cycle is a big step in your child’s development and it can be a great time to bond with them as they begin to experiment with the outdoors. Don’t rush it, make sure they are safe by taking the right safety steps and most of all enjoy it. You’ll only be able to teach them once before they’ll be after a bigger bike themselves.