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From training wheels to two wheels in 30 minutes
August 5, 2013 - Ron Deuter
With his training wheels pretty much wore down to nothing and fear preventing any attempt at two wheels, I’ve been trying to think of a creative way to get my nearly six-year old son Jacob to learn to ride his bike.
About two weeks ago, I adjusted the training wheels so that they were very uneven and wouldn’t both be touching the ground at the same time. He noticed, but still had no interest in taking them off.
Last week, I read on on the Internet about teaching kids how to balance on two wheels. One idea I saw was to remove the pedals and lower the seat enough to where the child could stand flat-footed and simply propel the bike with their feet without interference from the pedals, lifting their feet to feel how to balance.
Some said this method proved successful in as little as a few hours, so I figured it was worth a shot.
Since our street is on a slight incline, I took Jake to the top of the hill and instructed him to just use his feet to power the bike, and as it got going, he could lift his feet if he wanted. And if he was going too fast, he could put his feet down to stop.
The first few attempts he only lifted his feet for a few seconds, quickly reaching them back to ground as the bike wobbled. But with each new attempt, he would coast a little longer and a little faster. I also had him practice turning into the driveway while coasting.
Not wanting to push him too hard, I told him he could keep practicing that way for a few days and then we’d put the pedals back on the bike if he wanted.
But after only about 15 minutes or so, he asked me to re-attach the pedals.
I did and then we walked back out to the street where I figured I’d do the traditional hand on the back of the seat and help him along.
He told me to get away. In typical stubborn Jacob fashion, he wanted to do it himself or not at all.
He straddled his bike and started trying to walk with one foot and pedal with the other. I was thinking this would last all of a minute before he got frustrated, threw the bike down and ran away crying.
But, to my surprise, he sort of hopped along for just three of four strides and then just jumped on the bike all the way and started going — both feet pedaling and cruising right along like he’d been doing it for years.
He want back and forth up and down our block, with a big grin, faster and faster each time and with no crashes — so excited to accomplish the two-wheel feat all on his own.
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