Cycling: 7 steps to teach children to pedal

Cycling: 7 steps to teach children to pedal

Spring is coming and with it the promise of bucolic rides on cycle paths and dreams of sending your children to school by bike.

Minute! Before thinking about planning your cycling vacation in Charlevoix, follow our 7 steps to teach your child to pedal.

Take the “kodak” out of your smart phone; beautiful memories hover on the horizon!

1. Ride a balance bike a few months before the big apprenticeship
Allow your child to practice their balance on a draisienne (balance bike) or on a three-wheeled scooter. These two activities are even better than the tricycle to prepare the child to pedal because they force the little ones to develop a natural sense of balance to move forward.

2. Teach him to brake
Balance, steering and braking control is achieved by practicing on a grassy slope. The ideal is to remove the pedals for this moment, or to use the draisienne (balance bike).

The parent then accompanies the child to the side without touching him. Gradually, we increase the descent distance, we add the instructions for braking and standing on the ground for stopping. We practice the fall on the side on grass to demonstrate that it is normal, possible and avoidable.

After 20 minutes, the more adventurous will descend the slope without parental support. A few days later, the process is repeated to verify the learning. When it’s acquired, we put the pedals back; a great reward for the child! You can start the exercise again with the pedals

3. Make sure the bike fits properly
Make sure the child’s bike is the right size. If necessary, consult a specialist at a bicycle retailer. As for the saddle, it must allow the child to put his foot on the ground, the knee slightly bent, when the other foot is on the top of the pedal.

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Take the opportunity to tune up or clean the bike with the child, if necessary.

4. Make sure your child is ready to take off their little wheels
Confirm that your child is ready to remove the side wheels (small wheels) from their bicycle. To do this, watch its speed. If you can let him go alone and fairly quickly to a safe area, that’s a good sign. Watch the side wheels as your child turns a corner. Do they really support the child or would he be able to do without them?

5. Teach the theoretical part
On the big day, to warm up, do a few squats (yes, you, the parent! You will need your thigh muscles!)

Then, before your child takes off, teach him the theory part. When cycling, the sole of the foot should be on the pedal and the foot should be straight, toes pointing forward. When the pedal is at the bottom of the crankset, you can tilt your toes slightly forward for better propulsion.

6. Tell him where to position his feet
Remember that on a bike, the first few seconds are the hardest. After starting it is much easier to ride. To start the movement, advise your child to position one of the two pedals upwards, but not completely at the top. It is from there that he will be able to propel himself most effectively.

7. Run (crying with pride)!
Your child is on his bike, alone. You cry with pride (or anxiety at the thought of seeing him fall!). But your work doesn’t stop there. Several parents will try to run beside the child to absorb a possible fall or give him advice.

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Others will hold the back of the saddle to help the child balance. Either way, make sure you’re in a very quiet place (avoid bike paths and busy streets) and have your child wear a properly fitted helmet . At all times, remind him to keep his body straight and look ahead.

What if it doesn’t work?
No need to insist if you find that your child is not quite ready. You can continue to have him practice his balance or put the side wheels back on his bike. If you don’t have a balance bike, you can also simply remove the pedals from your child’s bike to use it in balance bike mode. Remember that learning to ride a bike differs for each child and is usually done between 3 and 7 years old.

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