Last summer I wrote about Ava learning to ride a bike with the “balance bike” approach. I’m here now to sing the praises of this method once again. It’s worked just as well for Thing 2 – but this time two years sooner!
The balance bike approach is exactly that; no training wheels. It’s about learning to balance first, pedaling comes later. A “real” balance bike has no pedals – but we just used a regular, very small bike for Ava. You don’t need a special bike, what matters is that they can easily catch themselves when they lose their balance. Ava was 6 when she learned, so her legs were long enough that the pedals didn’t get in her way while she was learning to balance.
Knowing that even the littlest of little kids can learn to ride a bike when they learn to balance first, I thought it was possible Max might learn to ride this summer even though she’s only 4. Since Maxine was younger and shorter, we took the pedals off this time around to make it easier for her.
But of course, when you’ve got certain ideas about the way things might go – your kid immediately makes other plans. Maxine simply had no interest in trying to balance when I first suggested it in the spring. It wasn’t fun or easy for her, most likely because her little legs weren’t long enough to easily reach the ground while sitting on the seat.
No problem, no pressure. But when I noticed recently that she seemed taller (special thanks to a summer full of fruit popcicles?!) I thought it might be a good time try balancing again. Perhaps it would be easier for her now than it was 2 or 3 months ago.
So one day at the end of last week I asked her to just sit and “walk” on the bike – and this time she was game. Soon walking turned to running, running to turned to lifting her feet when she felt secure and had enough momentum, and before we knew it, lifting her feet soon turned to Can We Put the Pedals Back on Already, Mom?
Here she is this morning, pedal-less.
An old pro at balancing now (and also an old pro at yelling at the cat to get out the way):
With pedals back on this afternoon, she was off and riding before dinner time tonight! No need for a run today, I spent the entire afternoon chasing her up and down the sidewalk:
Got a kid you need to teach to ride a bike? Forget training wheels – make your own balance bike! I’m a true convert now.