There are a few different methods for learning to ride a bicycle, and people have pretty strong opinions on what they think is the best method. We aren’t going to wade into that argument; instead, we are going to break it down into two different techniques that parents can use to teach their children how to ride a bike and show you some of the best instructions we could find for each method. Try them all and see what works best for you.
Learning to Ride a Bike the New School Way
This method focuses on learning to balance first and then worrying about peddling and stopping once the balancing has been understood. People are pretty keen on this method, and there are lots of videos that show you how it is done.
For this method, the key is to have a bike that is slightly undersized so the child can put his or her feet flat on the ground. If you have already bought a bike that is a little bigger than you were hoping they could grow into you could try and borrow a bike or check out garage sales or Craigslist, remember it doesn’t have to be the best bike around just something to help your kids learn to balance.
Once you have a bike that the child can sit on with their feet flat on the ground, you will remove the pedals, and the idea is that the child can learn to balance since their feet can touch the ground, and they can stop themselves from falling. If the child is comfortable, they can scoot along the pavement or use a slight slope to move them forward.
This video about a non-profit biking group in New York is a pretty good argument for this method.
Another great video is from the REI Outdoor School uses this method and gives an excellent lesson on everything you need to know.
Learning to Ride a Bike the Old School Way
The Old School Method is probably how you learned to ride your bike. This method involves taking the training wheels off your kid’s bike and running like hell along beside them, holding either the back of the seat or under the child’s armpits or shoulders until you can’t take it anymore and let go. Your child will either stop, fall, or keep on riding, and hopefully, at some point, will stop safely. Since there is a very high chance your child will fall, make sure they are wearing safety equipment (Especially a helmet that fits properly).
If you are using training wheels and don’t want to remove them cold turkey, it is possible to slowly move the training wheels higher and higher off the ground until they are hardly touching and so the child is weaned off them, and when the time comes to remove them, it isn’t as big of a deal.
If the child is having a lot of trouble with the balance, you can try taking a break from the bike and practice balance with a scooter. A lot of people find riding scooters to be helpful to learn to balance on bikes.
One of the big problems with this method is it is pretty hard on the back of the adult who is running along with the bike. A few people have come with some solutions to this problem using towels or bed sheets, or you can try a version of the grassy slope method.