Teaching Kids to Ride a Bike: When Is the Right Age?
If you’re a parent, chances are you spend a lot of time thinking about how to set your child up for success in life. From music lessons to language immersion preschools to sports, many parents and caretakers are taking advantage of their childrens’ natural curiosity and ability to learn by introducing them to new skills at a young age. In fact, some research even indicates that individuals in the 4-12 year old age range show the highest level of effectiveness at learning new skills than any other age group.
This is no less true when it comes to learning to ride a bike. And yet, especially for physical activities like bicycling, which is almost guaranteed to result in a few falls at first, it’s normal to wonder whether your child is ready. And as it turns out, teaching kids to ride a bike might come with multiple advantages—in addition to being easier to learn at a younger age, kids may experience important developmental, psychological, and physical benefits of bike riding.
The Benefits of Starting Young
However, even though it’s possible to teach your child to ride a bike at any age, there are a few reasons to consider doing it earlier rather than later—assuming, of course, that your child is ready and willing.
- It Creates Self Efficacy. Developing confidence in their ability to accomplish difficult goals is hugely important for children. Taking on the challenging task of learning to ride a bike is a great way to boost kids’ self-esteem and teach them to believe in themselves. In doing so, you’re not just teaching them to ride a bike—you’re building resilience and perseverance that will serve them well when they encounter other challenges later on in life.
- It Helps Develop Motor Skills. In addition to building bone strength, muscle tone, and stamina, bicycling is good for childrens’ cognitive development. The combination of pedaling, balancing, steering, and visual stimulation helps improve coordination and gross motor skills.
- It Helps Manage ADHD. Scientists have long been aware of the connection between exercise and improved focus and learning capacity. One notable study has even documented the positive effects of cycling on children with ADHD. Children with ADHD who started bicycling showed increased attention span and brain activity that was more consistent with non-ADHD patterns.
- It Teaches Safety Skills. Teaching your child to ride a bike is an excellent opportunity to introduce them to basic safety rules that they’ll use for the rest of their life, such as wearing a helmet and learning to be aware of their surroundings. In addition, riding a bicycle requires that children learn how traffic works, how to cross a street safely, and how to obey signs.
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.