Teach your little ones to ride a bike

Helen Skelton

Most of us can remember learning to ride – and probably have a funny story about swerving into a stream or almost knocking a parent off of their feet. While it perhaps wasn’t the smoothest process at the time, cycling is a skill I’m so glad to have had growing up. Plus as a family we try to ride our bikes rather than take the car whenever we can.

Learning to ride when you’re young effectively gives you a super power, where you never forget that feeling of lifting your feet up and pedalling for the first time. It’s also a lovely thing to share with parents, brothers and sisters, where cycling together opens up exciting days out and a great way to explore.

With cycling so close to my heart, I jumped at the chance to support British Cycling with HSBC UK Ready Set Ride – their new learn to ride programme. It was created with parents in mind and you don’t need any cycling knowledge to get started, where the three-step process breaks the skill down into over 20 fun games to play together.

You don’t even need a bike to get started, as the first step is all about improving movement skills that will help with braking, steering and pedalling. What’s great is that these same games also help the kids to hold their knife and fork, tie their shoelaces and enjoy lots of other activities.

While I’ll let the experts at British Cycling and the Youth Sport Trust get you started over on the Ready Set Ride website, I wanted to share my top tips for many miles and many smiles in the saddle.

  1. Don’t put it off: Family life is busy and it can be easy to make excuses, but with short games that you can play while you’re waiting for dinner, tidying away other toys or enjoying sunny weather in the back garden, it’s easy to get started.
  2. Go at their speed: Some children will learn faster than others or naturally be more confident. If they aren’t ready to balance or pedal, play the Prepare 2 Ride games which will help them to develop important movement skills. You’ll find this will also help kids with everyday things like using cutlery or learning to tie their shoe laces.
  3. Explore together: Cycling is a great way to explore your community. Being on a bike means children can cover more ground so you could think about fitting in that power walk or jog around the park.
  4. Learn together: If you don’t know how to ride a bike or haven’t been out for a ride in years, why not use this as a good excuse to get back in the saddle? Learning together is a great family day out and will lead to all sorts of adventures.
  5. Have fun!: HSBC UK Ready Set Ride is full of free games that you can get creative with in your own home. Don’t look at it as a process. Instead think of the fun you will have together while your little one develops into a confident rider. Cycling is an activity to do as a whole family and setting up your children on a bike is a life skill they will never forget!

Share your story #readysetride

If you’re out and about learning to ride this summer, share your photos, videos and My journey montage with us using the #readysetride hashtag.