Think back to your childhood, when the most important things in life were ice cream and monkey bars. With the wind in your face, the summer sun on your skin, the smell of freshly cut grass and sunscreen fill your nose as the sssssshhhhhh-tik-tik-tik of sprinklers on the neighborhood lawns play their summer one-hit wonder, you developed a true sense of speed and independence. That moment changed everything, it was freedom: you knew how to ride a bike. Swelling with confidence and brimming with the desire to keep going, you found yourself wanting more. Faster. Farther. In that life-changing moment, with your first taste of real freedom, you came to the profound realization that the world is much bigger than you thought. And it’s there to be explored. But that’s what riding is about, once the riding itch hits—well, it’s not one that ever goes away.
Why is it that this one event – riding a bike – is such an important milestone in children’s lives? We have fun when we learn to play sports. But learning other new skills usually doesn’t result in one “Ah ha!” moment; it comes from a series of progressions. Learning how to ride a bicycle can be so frustrating because we have to learn everything at once. Our brains literally run millions of processes at once while we try to balance, steer, and pedal on two wheels.
Figuring out how to steer but staying focused on keeping our balance takes a lot of brain power and concentration. Additionally, we keep thinking about our legs and how they “make us go.” On top of that, we’re constantly judging the distance to the ground in case we fall. There’s a lot going on when it comes to learning how to ride a bike, especially for a child.
Many of us probably experienced our parents holding onto our bikes and pushing us while we were trying to learn how to ride. As parents, we instinctively want to do that for our children, but it doesn’t help them learn how to balance. If we support the bike when it tips to one side, we are acting like training wheels, which are the absolute worst way for a child to learn because the child thinks (mistakenly) that the bike is always stable. They don’t learn balance. Instead, parents should support and encourage the child and help them out by building their confidence in their balance bike.
A child’s security starts in their feet when they begin learning to ride, and we want them to feel secure. As the child learns to walk with the balance bike between their legs and starts to understand how the handlebar works, they become more comfortable. They start to “trust” the seat. Once the child sits and walks with the Strider, they’re one step closer to balancing on their own.
Once your child is comfortable sitting on the Strider and walking, they repeat a progression they’ve already learned. The step from walking to running is already natural to them. The only new element in this progression is the addition of the children’s balance bike, which they’ve become used to. Once your child is comfortable enough to start running, they have the “Ah ha!” moment. There’s one moment where their feet aren’t touching the ground, where they just glide. They’re poised. They’re balanced. They’re ready. They’ve successfully learned how to stride to gain their momentum and they now know how to balance.
A child’s security is in their feet, and we want them to feel secure -- the final step in the learn-to-ride process is learning how to pedal.
Note that your child is proficient at riding a children’s balance bike, it’s a good time for them to learn some more advanced skills. If they’re at the standing gliding part of the progression, it’s the perfect stage in their progression to help them learn pumping (gaining speed on small hills), and other advanced skills before they start pedaling. Why? Because once your child learns how to pedal, learning these advanced skills will take longer than if they had learned them before pedaling.
The final step in the learn-to-ride process is learning how to pedal. Designed as a children’s balance bike for ages 3-7, the 14x Sport takes children through the same progression as the Strider 12 Sport—but takes the process even further. Once the foundation of balance has been achieved, parents can attach the Easy-Ride Pedal Kit to the 14x and convert it to a pedal bike. After attaching the pedal kit, the first step is to ignore the pedals. That’s right. Pedals can be intimidating, let your child use them as footrests once they’ve gained the momentum by striding to propel themselves. They need to find the pedals naturally. The pedals on the 14x were specifically designed so that children could easily stride around them. Once they have a good feel for where the pedals are, encourage your child to use pedaling as their source of propulsion.
Do not attach the Easy Ride Pedal Kit until your child can propel the bike and glide for long distances. Your child should be able to handle the bike on a downhill slope without putting their feet down. You child should be able to effectively steer through or around obstacles in their path. Most importantly, attach the pedal kit when your child wants to transition to a pedal bike.
Learning to ride a bike is a lifechanging event that presents us all with a sense of freedom, responsibility, and adventure. But learning to ride doesn’t have to be a fail-until-you-succeed, intimidating, no-fun process for your child. There’s a better way. From complex physical activities like bike riding, skiing, playing football, and learning gymnastics to mental processes like algebra or diagramming a sentence, learning comes from a series of progressions. The Strider 14x Sport is the only bike that includes the simple, step-by-step guide for parents to help their children master the learn-to-ride progression. From each progression to the next, we master a skill and apply that to the next step, increasing our ability until we’re able to complete our goal. In this case, the goal is learning to ride and creating a passion that lasts a lifetime.
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