The first critical skill you need to learn is to balance the bicycle by the steering of the handle bar, for this I must give credit to the father. He had to bend down (so much), hold on to the bike seat, ran as he pushed the bicycle and told Asher to balance the bicycle by holding the handle bar. No joke, it was very tiring, the father was all exhausted for the first 2 days of teaching.
I, on the other hand, taught him how to pedal to keep the bicycle going, at the same time, I must hold on to the bicycle so they (both bike and son) do not fall together. It was NOT easy, the wheel once crushed my toe nails and bled. Lesson learnt : not only the learners have to put on proper foot wear, the coach too must do the same.
To overcome the fear, we spent close to $40 on protection elbows and knees cuffs. We told him falling is unavoidable, don’t ever tell them “you won’t fall” because they will! Spend some time talking about falling off the bike and the pain. The obvious reasons they can’t make it because of fear, falling down is painful but we can minimise the pain by donning the cuffs. Falling off is scary, don’t tell them not to be scared, I told mine it is okay to be afraid of falling, pain may be minimise, but after a few tries, the skill he learnt will be for life, is never forgotten!
He was determined, he fell a couple of times, the cuff slipped and there were bruises and cut on his calves and kneecaps, he picked up the bicycle again and finally managed to ride without assistance on the 3rd day. He was overjoyed. There were ugly moments, there were angers and screaming. We were a little drama to be honest, the neighbours who witnessed his fall, his screaming also saw him riding happily in some evenings put 2 thumbs up, praised him and said encouraging words. I thanked them, those words and gestures meant a lot to him.
If the weather permits, we will most likely be spending 4 weekdays evenings riding bicycle. From this website, I’ve learnt how important riding for him.
- Develops balance.
- Great cardiovascular and body strengthen.
- The speed provides vestibular stimulation.
- Bumpy roads and pumping up hills activate the proprioceptors (brain organizers).
- Falls especially activate proprioceptors and increase body awareness so there is an up side to these little dramas.
- Children learn to operate the bike (pumping) while balancing, while steering, while regulating the speed. This motor integration helps build motor planning ability.
- Since both hands simultaneously hold the handlebars and steer while the legs push and lift up on the pedal, bilateral motor coordination is enhanced.
- Children learn safety rules (which have real consequences if not followed!).
- Older children (who have learned safety rules) have opportunities for some freedom.
- Cycling offers an opportunity for the whole family to go on an extended outing-pack a picnic lunch or head for the local ice cream shop.
I couldn’t agree more and thought I must share this with everyone.
To ride a bike, a child needs to develop good core stability and balance, visual and bilateral coordination skills and overall strength and endurance. A child also needs to have well-established vestibular and proprioceptive systems. The vestibular system coordinates information from around the body, including the inner ear, eyes, muscles, joints and skin and adjusts heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tone, limb position, immune responses and balance. The proprioceptive sense is one of the “deep senses” and could be considered the “position sense.” It refers to the sensory input and feedback that tells us about movement and body position. Its “receptors” are located within our muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons and connective tissues. –By Katy Smith, Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant
MedCentral Pediatric Therapy
But why learn to ride a bike only when he is about to turn 6yo and not early? Well, I adopt the child-lead learning method, I always believe when he is ready to learn, he learns and leaps. Good thing was it took him 3 sessions to learn riding bicycle, The minus point was delay in assessing his sensory development, I always thought he is doing fine until I spoke a trainer lately, I learnt about some deep senses development in children and there are just as important as physical development. That kind of shed a light on why my child can’t sit for long during lessons, fidgets a lot, he was probably looking for some inputs for these sensory.