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June 18, 2018

Our Approach to Bike Riding

One warm evening a few weeks ago we decided to head outside to play after dinner. When we got outside, Nora declared that she was going to ride her “big bike.” Within an hour she was riding a two wheeled bike without training wheels. Once she decided to do it, she made it happen. There were no tears, expectations, or pushing her. 

It was a lovely example of how giving a child space, time, and support can lead to a greater sense of freedom and independence. Oh, and joy! The shear joy of her accomplishment! Every ounce of her being was proud. And over and over she kept saying, “I proud of myself!” It was a fantastic event to watch and every day since then her confidence has risen and she has perfected her technique. Every gain has been her own. 

A look at how we approach learning to ride a bike as a Montessori family

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I don't want to take credit for this accomplishment, because it really was all her. She asked us to "start" her by holding the bike and giving a small push, but otherwise she did everything. But, we supported the process by making a few things available to her. 


This is always the most important to me! We gave her time to develop these skills naturally on her own time table. We didn't tell her she was too young, or too little. We didn't push her to start riding before she was ready. We just let her be. And we supported her decision when she wanted to ride. Henry, for example, had all the same opportunities but started riding his two wheel bike at nearly 6-years-old. We too supported his needs, and time line without judgment or pressure. We will do the same for Gus who, unlike the other two, shows absolutely no interest at all in bikes of any kind. 


One way that we support biking riding at our home is having certain bikes available to our kids. Way back when Henry was 2-years-old (so just over 5 years ago) we bought him a Strider balance bike for his birthday. It has been well loved since. Henry got the hang of it around 2.5/3 and then spent the next several years zooming around the neighborhood with it before moving to a larger pedal bike. Nora, on the other hand, was on the strider walk/riding it by 15 months. By the time she was 2 she was riding it everywhere! The balance came naturally to her. She became so good that we picked up a heavier wooden balance bike at a consignment sale so she and Henry didn't have to compete for the same bike. 

A look at how we approach learning to ride a bike as a Montessori family

At the same time, we also had a tricycle available to them. Again, this was a thifted find. I think this helped them learn to petal without the concern for balance. This trike was used FAR less than the balance bike.

Once I saw that they we're both able to balance on the Strider bike, I bought a petal bike for them. The petal bike was just available without pressure or stress. For awhile Nora walked around with it. Now our bikes are not fancy. I'm sure there are better bikes out there, but theirs are both thrifted. Nora, in particular, is a 12" pedal bike. I didn't want to buy anything nicer because I had no idea if she would even use a bike this small. If she had waited another summer to start riding she would have  likely outgrown it. But, I just wanted something to be there at exactly the right time. And, this worked well! 

And, that's it! Henry being a more cautious human did request training wheels and we supported him with that. Did it slow him down on riding independently? Yes. But, was it a long term hindrance? No. It was a step he needed to feel supported, but again, it was HIS decision. And, one that Nora didn't feel like she had to make! 

How do you approach bike riding? Do you love balance bikes? 


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