According to one UK poll, 70% of parents believe that learning to ride a bike is an essential life skill for children. And yet, in spite of that, recent years have seen a marked decline in the number of kids who are riding bikes. There are a lot of factors behind this trend; however, one poll found that the top three reasons given by parents were lack of interest on the child’s part (51%), not knowing how (40%), and not having a safe place to learn or ride (22%).
At All Kids Bike, we believe in making bike riding a universally accessible opportunity to all kids who want to learn. To do this, we’re bringing bicycles and teaching bike riding to kindergarten PE classes, where kids are given the support and tools they need to learn in a safe environment. Here’s why we believe that this approach is effective:
Relying on parents to teach their kids to ride a bicycle at home means that many children will miss out on the opportunity. For example, families who struggle financially may not be able to afford bikes or have time to teach their children. Other parents are concerned about the safety of their neighborhoods. Still others may not have enough space, like this New York City mom who wrote that in addition to living in an apartment that is too small to store a bike, her family’s neighborhood doesn’t have any suitable parks or open spaces to ride in.
By bringing bikes into schools, we are eliminating the barriers that keep many children from learning to ride.
As with any new skill, learning how to ride a bike can be difficult or even discouraging for kids at first. By teaching bike riding in a group setting like PE classes, kids are given the opportunity to learn together rather than individually, which allows them to benefit from the support and social encouragement of their peers. Not to mention, a little friendly competition never hurt anyone!
Childhood obesity now affects roughly 20% of children. As a result, it’s more important than ever that children are motivated to exercise. Including bikes in the PE curriculum offers another means of introducing variety and keeping kids engaged and active. Plus, demonstrating to kids that physical activity can be fun and playful, rather than a chore or obligation, may help them build healthy habits that will continue to serve them into adulthood.
The All Kids Bike program is based on a tried-and-true, structured curriculum that is designed to give all students a solid foundation in bike riding, regardless of how much previous experience they’ve had. By standardizing the learning process, we take the guesswork and trial-and-error out of teaching kids to ride.
Bringing bikes into schools may also be a way to help boost students’ academic performance. Cycling has been shown to improve focus, reduce stress, and boost cognitive function. Research has even indicated that biking may be an effective way to help children with ADHD manage their attention and impulsivity. By teaching kids to ride bikes in PE, we’re also setting them up for success when they return to the classroom.
While it’s possible to ride a bike at any age, there are a number of benefits to learning to ride at a young age. Children have much greater brain plasticity than adults, which allows them to pick up new skills more easily, and biking has been proven to help develop their motor skills.
But on top of that, learning to ride a bike gives kids valuable skills that will help them as they grow older. It also provides them with an independent (and cheap) form of transportation, and teaches them important street safety skills.
All Kids Bike is a national movement dedicated to bringing the mental and physical benefits of bike riding to every kid in America. Led by the Strider Education Foundation, our mission is to make bicycling skills an integral part of kids’ elementary school education. Our Kindergarten PE Program provides the curriculum, bikes, and safety equipment needed to teach every kindergartner how to ride at no cost to the school itself. Contact us to learn more about how you can support our vision to make this milestone skill accessible to children, or consider donating to a school in your community.
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