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how to teach children to ride a bike: grass hill method

I thought this post might come in handy for some parents out there. It’s hard to believe but I recently met a young man who never learned how to ride a bike. I was utterly confounded by the news. A kid 15 years of age who got his driver’s permit but does not know how to ride a bike? How was it possible? His parents are quite embarrassed about it. I guess they just never got around to it when he was a young fellow. They are not bikeriders themselves. A couple of years ago the boy started asking if they could teach him so he could ride his bike to middle school. They made an attempt or two. But it was already too late…The boy was mortified to be seen outside practicing riding a bike at this age. It’s so sad. How could this happen?

I think the greatest gift we can give our children as parents is the gift of confidence. It’s our job to help them accomplish these milestones in life. It’s hese milestones that make them feel they can do stuff on their own. One of them is riding a bike. Another is being able to swim. By learning to do these physical things they gain pride and confidence and can move on to bigger things.

I wrote about my traumatic childhood memories when it comes to learning to ride a bike on my personal blog recently. It definitely wasn’t good being put on a bike without training wheels and pushed down a steep hill until you fall…What parent would do such a thing? My Dad! But at least he cared enough to teach me how to ride a bike as painful as this lesson turned out. Plus I learned something else: it made me determined to do better with my own children.

Like other parents from the NaturalKids Team who kindly shared their photos with me – my husband and I used a much gentler approach with our children.

I think it’s important to make kids feel safe on the bike first. My kids both rode their bikes with training wheels for a couple of years. Then, when my son turned 5, I decided it was time to take the training wheels off and teach him without. The first couple of days I would just walk beside him. You know the break-my-back-hold-on-to-bikehandles and running-running-alongside-your kid method. But my son just wasn’t able to balance. Some kids just have a harder time when it comes to balance. Then I had an idea. We have a soft grassy hill where our grass slopes down into the neighbor’s yard. I used my dad’s approach, using gravity rolling down a hill, but without the hard fall. I would run along and push the child and then let go. We used this method with both of our children. They both did fall  a few times – but they landed on the soft grass. All it took was ONE afternoon. Both of my children learned in one afternoon by using the grassy hill method. Once they got the Feel for it they were okay. They went from the hill to the sidewalk that same day.  And there was no crying, no injuries, no bruises.

Please, take the time and teach a kid how to ride a bike! You will make a real difference in their life! Plus, it’s good excercize and great for the environment too.


5 thoughts on “how to teach children to ride a bike: grass hill method

  1. Great article! So true about teaching children how to ride a bike when they are young.

  2. My husband didn’t learn until he was 19 or 20 and in college. He was the last of 4 children and just never learned. It’s never too late to learn. He learned easily. I learned a bit late too. I remember my grandfather pushing me down our long down hill dirt road, He did the same thing, He said “don’t worry, I’ll run the whole way with you”. Of course he let go and I kept going a bit terrified but did fairly well. We all have to fall & live & learn. lol

    1. thanks for the grassy hill idea. We’ll try this!

  3. Thank you for sharing this, Ulla. My oldest still has her training wheels on and feels ready to go on without them. We’ll be needing these tips!

  4. This is a bit late, but in case someone finds this through google and reads he comments: We always put all the protection on our kids – besides helmets, that means knee pads, elbow pads, and the fingerless gloves that come in the set for kids. This prevents scrapes when the kid falls, and they will fall at some point.

    We also had success with using rollerblades for the parents after removing the training wheels – that way the parent can keep up (all of this is on pavement, hence the protection is important) and potentially help the child who is learning while both are riding. Specifically, I would straddle the back wheel of the bike with each of my legs, while holding the child lightly under the arms. This also helped once the kid learned o bike but had problems getting started.

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