Are training wheels doing your child more harm than good when it comes to them making it on their own two wheels?
Wendy Studman is a senior coach for ‘Big Skills for Small Bikes’, a training course designed to get kids between the ages of three and eight riding a bike within a week.
It’s run by Canberra’s peak cycling body Pedal Power every school holidays, but there’s more demand than ever this July.
“It’s word of mouth, and a lack of time for many parents,” Wendy says.
“And you know kids – they don’t listen to mum and dad, and they’ll argue with them, but when someone else tells them how to do something, they’re more responsive.”
For the upcoming July school holidays, Wendy and the other coaches will be tutoring up to 30 kids across two 45-minute sessions, held each day for five days, for each of the two weeks. Almost all of them will be riding by the end of it.
“They come in scared, don’t want to get on the bike, don’t want to do anything. But by the end of the week they’re riding, and if not quite riding on their own, they’re very, very close.”
It’s a bring-your-own bike affair, and parents are instructed to remove training wheels and pedals so the kids can start by learning how to balance.
“We start with a good starting technique, because some kids just take both feet off the ground and then fall over,” Wendy says.
“We teach them braking techniques, cornering, slowing and stopping on an exact point on the basketball court. There are also talks on riding etiquette on shared paths, safety and looking out for cars.”
The parents are kept involved too and encouraged in the best training techniques.
“A lot of parents are scared of their kids falling, so they’re practically hugging them as they’re riding along and, of course, that’s pulling the kid off balance and not helping,” Wendy says.
“So we’re teaching the parents as well as the kids.”
And yes, training wheels are out.
“The kids rely on them too much,” Wendy says.
“You see some kids leaning right into corners, but they’re just relying on the training wheel to be there to hold them upright. They’re not learning how to balance the bike, so basically, it’s hindering them.”
Her next top tip is to hold the back of the seat while they’re riding along.
“If you’re holding the child or the front handlebars to hold them upright, you’re pulling them off-balance and they’re not learning to balance on their own. So just hold the back of the seat, take it slowly, and let the kid guide you as to how fast they want to go.”
Making a game of it can help too.
“I always tease the kids and say, ‘Quick, hurry, make dad run and work for it’,” Wendy says.
As for when to start, anytime is good.
“We’ve had confident three-year-olds flying around the court and I’ve had very hesitant eight-year-olds not doing anything. It just depends on the kid.”
Big Skills for Small Bikes is held at Lyneham High School, 61 Goodwin Street, in Lyneham, over the July and September school holidays. It costs $135 per child (accompanying adults are free). Book on the Pedal Power ACT website.
Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.