Teaching Kids: How to Ride a Bike

Nannies as Bike Safety Advocates

For many nannies, teaching the children in their care to ride a bike or reinforcing bike riding skills is par the course. While many parents prefer to teach their children how to ride a bike, due to scheduling constraints, the task if often left to the nanny.

A nanny’s primary concern is always the safety of her charges, and as such, nannies should ensure that the children have properly fitting protective gear, including a well-fitting helmet. Nannies should also be sure that the child is riding an appropriate size bicycle. Bicycles that are too big or too small can be hard to handle and can lead to spills and injuries. Most bicycle shops will fit a child for a bike at no charge.

Since children can be at risk of injury when learning to ride a bike, nannies should consult with parents prior to embarking on bike riding lessons. Nannies should also be sure to have a signed medical authorization release form, should the child become injured and required medical attention and the parents cannot be reached. When nannies are teaching their charges how to ride a bike, a first aid kit should be handy. Wound wash, band-aids and antibacterial ointment will come in handy for scraped and skinned knees.

Nannies should also ensure that the learning environment is safe. A flat, smooth surface free from debris and vehicles is an ideal location. Some communities boast well kept bicycle paths that are perfect for beginner riders. Even when the environment is safe, nannies should focus on teaching the rules of the road and bicycle safety.

10 Tips for Teaching a Child How to Ride a Bike

Learning to ride a bicycle is a rite of passage for kids, and often bittersweet for parents and caregivers. Reaching this milestone is proof of a child growing up and becoming independent, which leaves parents and nannies feeling both proud and a bit nostalgic for the days of babyhood. The moment that first bike is purchased and the sight of your child sailing confidently down the sidewalk are separated, however, by the often nerve-wracking process of learning to ride. Here are ten tips to keep the experience as painless as possible, for both kids and the adults who teach them.

  1. Insist on Proper Protective Gear – A child who is taught to wear the proper safety gear from the very first lesson is much more likely to continue using it after they become confident riders. Kids who view their helmet as merely part of the training process may ditch it later, which could lead to injuries.
  2. Adjust Training Wheels Properly – Training wheels should not touch the ground unless the bicycle is leaning to one side. Parents often think that the wheels should be flush with the ground, but this only inhibits a child’s ability to balance themselves and lengthens the learning process.
  3. Find a Suitable Surface – The best surface for beginners is flat and paved, with low traffic and plenty of space. Hilly surfaces with uneven pavement or gravel should be avoided until a child is well beyond the training stage.
  4. Help Them Hold the Bike Upright – Helping your child to maintain their balance for their first few outings without their training wheels not only prevents falls, but also allows them the chance to become accustomed to the sensation of riding without the fear of toppling over.
  5. Follow Along and Maintain a Grasp – As your child picks up speed, adjust your pace accordingly. Jogging or running alongside them is not only helpful to their training, but provides you with a bit of a workout!
  6. Ensure Their Balance and Confidence – When you feel that your child is balancing well without much assistance from you, ensure that they feel comfortable and confident before letting go.
  7. Let Go and Continue to Run Alongside – After releasing your grip, continue to keep pace with your child. Avoid the urge to grab the bicycle to correct their balance or prevent a fall, as this can only make the inevitable spill a nastier one than it would be otherwise.
  8. Offer Words of Encouragement – As you run alongside your child, be careful not to allow your worry and exertion to cause you to bark out orders or raise your voice. Instead, offer words of encouragement and praise.
  9. Help Them Up When They Fall – Falling is, unfortunately, an inevitable part of the process. This is why it’s important to keep pace with your child, even after you’ve let go of their bicycle; being close to them allows you to help them up immediately, insure that injuries are minor, and to encourage them to get back on. Ending a session after a spill can cause your child to become afraid of riding, which can delay their progress significantly.
  10. Be Patient – The most important tip for teaching a child to ride a bike is to be patient. Shaky balance, unfamiliarity with the sensation of riding and fear of falling down can all create a bit of anxiety in your child, and it might take longer than you anticipate for them to become a confident rider.

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