By Ali Martell
I was commiserating with a friend recently about how our children, who are in grade 3, do not yet ride two-wheelers. Our boys find safety in the comfort of the four-wheeler approach and have expressed no desire to learn to ride. I often wonder if I just waited too late with him; if he just got too used to always having the added side support of the training wheels. I thought that if we had started teaching him without ever using the (slightly false) comfort of training wheels to begin with, he would have never come to rely on them so much. If he had learned the fundamentals of balancing on only tw0-wheels, he would always be comfortable riding a bike.
And that’s when I heard about something called a balance bike.
Balance bikes, essentially, are bikes that are built without pedals. No, really. They look exactly like regular bikes; they have two wheels, a seat and handlebars, but they just don’t have any pedals. Riders use their own feet to make the bike move, while getting themselves comfortable with how a two-wheeler works. They learn the confidence it takes to ride a bike and improve both their balance and coordination in the process. Balance bikes are made for children as young as one or two, and go up to 16-inch sizes for the older learner.
A friend recently took the pedals off of his reluctant rider’s bike and she was riding a two-wheeler in a matter of just a few hours. I’m thinking that this coming weekend, I will teach myself how to use my husband’s tools so I can take the wheels off of my son’s bike. I have a feeling he will be riding his bike in no time at all.
I guess sometimes it’s just a matter of thinking outside the box. What about YOU? Have you ever used a somewhat unconventional method to teach your child a basic skill?