Before I get on with this post, let me preface it with this: We have 4 kids ranging in age from 9 to 3 years old and before very recently, NONE of them could ride a 2 wheeled-bike.
Really, my husband and I would sometimes sit up late at night and say, "Wow, we have totally failed as parents! We are incapable of teaching our kids to ride bikes without training wheels!"
We tried several different times and it didn't work. The teaching sessions left us adults sweaty and sore from running along stooped over holding onto the unsteady bikes and both us and the kids frustrated. There was one day we thought we'd teach the then 8 year old and 6 year old on the same day -- that was neither a fun nor a successful day! I started joking (but also a bit serious) that we needed to send our kids away to a school or a camp that could teach them this classic life skill because clearly we as their parents could not teach them.
It came to a point that the 9 year old couldn't have training wheels on anymore, because you know, his image, but he couldn't ride well enough without them so he just stopped riding his bike.
Then there was a long hot summer of about 4 months where one really could not go outside without sweating to death. But, we recently had some cool nights (meaning less than 90 degrees) and the 3 younger kids have been riding their bikes with training wheels a bunch on our street. Then last night, the recently-turned-7 year old asked if we'd take her training wheels off again. Okay! We were eager even though I think my husband and I both expected the training wheels to go back on again soon.
But, this time was different.
First, my girl was determined (nothing like the prodding of the fact that 2 kids on our street her age recently started riding their bikes without training wheels). Second, my husband had a plan this time! He'd either read or heard of a method where you teach your kid to ride a bike first by having them coast down a small hill without pedaling, then once they were good at balancing, you get them pedaling on level ground. So he sent her down the last 8 feet or so of our slightly sloped driveway and said she needed to have 20 good times and then they'd go to "phase 2". I was standing guard in the street watching for cars (helps that we live on a cul-de-sac), the first few times I kind of caught her at the bottom and helped her steady herself and stop.
And, it was really amazing, the trick worked! It took about 45 minutes to get through "phase 1" where she could control the bike coasting down the driveway, but then "Phase 2" was easy and took no time at all!
It was so awesome to see how proud she was of her new ability!
And the 9 year old (who was doing this while his younger sister was learning)?
Well, thankfully for preserving his ego at being upstaged by his little sister, he'd just recently brought home some really, really good results from a standardized test he took the end of last school year. I had to ask what the code "PHS" meant for one category under the column "Grade Equivalent". It means "Post High School", so as a 3rd grader his skills in that category were the equivalent of a post high school student! What??!! So we got to have a talk about everyone having things they are good at and things they have to work harder on. And the 9 year old is now eager to try his dad's new two-wheel bike learning methodology. I think talking in terms of "a methodology" is going to make all the difference for that smart kid!
And my little ones are crazy, lacking a natural fear of falling, going over curbs and such with their training wheel bikes so I imagine they'll be much easier to teach once we take their training wheels off. Maybe we'll even have all 4 kids riding 2 wheeled bikes by the end of the weekend! That or we'll be visiting the ER for stitches or a broken arm!
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