How it Started
Teaching children to ride a bike without training wheels is a milestone that most parents experience. It can be a daunting task for both the parent and child initially. However, once the child learns this skill, they receive some degree of freedom. The freedom to transport themselves from one place to another on a bike involves independence.
I love being outside and watching the neighborhood kids ride their bikes in groups. The kids seem so carefree.
When my son was two months old, I took him for a walk in the baby ergo. After five minutes, he was fast asleep. I could not help but observe the neighborhood kids riding their bikes while communicating to each other about their next destination.
I often thought my son, Cory, would learn to ride a bike without training wheels at seven or eight.
When my son was two-years-old, I saw my neighbor outside with her three-year-old son. He was riding a peculiar bike that I’d never seen before. It was a bike with no petals. I asked my neighbor about the bike and she said it was a balance bike. She said it is supposed to help children learn balance, which is the same skill needed to ride a bike without training wheels.
After our conversation, I immediately did a search on the Internet and found what she told me to be true. I hopped on Amazon, after speaking with my hubby, and ordered my son a balance bike with 12-inch wheels and a helmet.
When it arrived, my husband put it together. Then we went outside and took Cory, who was two-years-old at the time, to ride the bike for the first time.
How do you teach a kid to ride a bike?
Cory used his little feet to slowly walk the bike forward. Within a month and a half, he was able to balance himself on the bike. In the evenings, he would ride his bike while I told familiar stories such as The Three Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood.
Below is a video of Cory riding the balance bike at two-years-old.
Below is a video of Cory balancing on the bike at three-years-old.
Cory spent the next year riding the balance bike, scooter, and occasionally his tricycle. He rode the tricycle, which was a gift from a family member, less than five times because he favored the balance bike and scooter.
My next thought was to get him a bike with training wheels. I figured this would help him learn to petal a bike with no training wheels. Again, he rode that bike less than three times because he liked the balance bike and scooter better.
Then my friend and her husband, Katy and Antonio, gave me the answer to my son’s next step in learning to ride a bike with no training wheels. My son went to Katy’s and Antonio’s house for a playdate with their children. I saw their six-year-old son riding a bike with no training wheels and I asked about their process in teaching him.
As they were observing Cory ride up and down the street on their daughter’s balance bike, Antonio said “Look at his balance, you don’t need a bike with training wheels.” He told me to get a small bike with no training wheels and use it to teach him how to petal. With the balance bike, Cory had already conquered the hard part which is learning to balance.
The next week I went to our local bike shop and traded in the training wheel bike (with 16-inch wheels) for a bike with no trains wheels (with 12-inch wheels).
How do you teach a kid to pedal?
I did three things to teach my son to petal. One was to have him observe other kids petaling. We observed kids in the neighborhood and watched YouTube Videos of children petaling their bike.
The second action was to lie on my back and show him the bicycling petal motion in the air. After demonstrating the move, Cory imitated me. He laughed and had fun while petaling in the air.
The final step was to practice on the bike. While he rode the bike, I was holding on the back while saying “Push, push, petal petal” in a rhythmic way.
A Little Bit at a Time
I used the concept of shaping to teach my son to ride the bike. At first we practiced 15 seconds and the next time we increased it to 30 seconds. We gradually added on time each day we practiced. Within a week my son, at four-years-old, was riding a bike with no training wheels. He was so proud of himself!
Watch this video of Cory riding a bike with no training wheels.
We have now upgraded to a bike with 16-inch wheels. Cory is whipping through the streets and I am getting my work out in by running behind him.
Watch this video of Cory riding the 16 inch wheel bike. We forgot his helmet and started riding back home to get it.
This process has been a joy with two falls to go with it. When Cory was first learning to ride, he was not afraid of falling. We read a book called The Reading Adventures of Duke and Dad: Never Give Up, which taught my son that falling is a part of learning to ride a bike.
The first time Cory fell, he was happy! He said I fell just like Duke in the book! He got back up immediately and tried again.
Reading books about kids learning to ride bikes helped mentally prepare my son for what was coming. Other books we read were…
- Daniel learns to Ride a Bike by Beck Friedman and Jason Fruchter
- The Bike Lesson by Stan Berenstein
- Do You Like My Bike by Sam Feuti
Many parents have the following question: What age should a child be able to ride a bike without training wheels?
The answer to this question depends on the child. My son learned as a four-years-old. However, I have seen children learn as early as three and as late as teenagers. I think children are more motivated to learn when they see other kids riding their bikes.
I decided to teach my son to ride a bike because he balanced himself well on the balance bike. It was a natural progression to riding a bike with no training wheels.
Observe your child and decide when is the best time to learn. Have fun with this process!
Our books are available on Amazon, “Teach Your Toddler to Read Through Play,” “Fun Easy Ways to Teach Your Toddler to Write, and “Teach Your Child About Money Through Play.“