When Little T received her bike last Christmas, I thought that she would just pedal away to biking bliss. After all, her legs are strong, she is coordinated, and she has had some practice with her push tricycle. And don’t kids just know how to ride a bike?
At first I was amused, then concerned, when after five months, Little T still couldn’t pedal properly. She would push halfway with her right foot, THEN take it back up. Forward, backward her right foot went. To her credit, she did not get frustrated like her mother. She was just happy to sit on her bike and pretend to be moving.
My friend B, whose three-year-old son is a budding cycling enthusiast, shared with me this brilliant way to teach a young child how to pedal.
- On a flat surface, set up the bicycle like an exercise bike with the rear wheel elevated. We did this by standing the training wheels on two thin planks of wood. See picture above.
- Make the child pedal with her hand. This lets her feel the cycling motion. We also asked Little T what happens to the rear wheel when she pedals forward (it moves) and backward (it doesn’t move).
- Make the child pedal with her feet and point out the rear wheel again.