World Bicycle Day: Get Your Kids Bike Savvy with POTS
Bike riding is great exercise and an excellent way to bond with friends, but for many of our children, learning to ride a bike can be scary! As a parent, teaching your child to bike can be frustrating when your child "just doesn’t get it!" I know! I was there!"
Why? Bike riding requires pulling together so many skills that may be challenging for kids with special needs. It requires the integration of vision with upper and lower body movements. The eyes must guide a safe path as the upper body steers and the lower body pedals rhythmically- – all while balancing.
TIPS & TRICKS:
Always wear a well-fitting helmet
To allay your child’s fear, model and practice falling on a soft surface, and getting back on the bike
Get the feel of the movement first. For a beginner, start with a tricycle or a bike with training wheels for added stability, or remove the pedals. This will allow your child the opportunity to get the hang of pedaling without also having to simultaneously balance.
Pick a point way ahead to focus on. This will ensure that your child’s eyes look straight ahead rather than down, which will decrease the likelihood of falling and help your child steer safely away from obstacles.
Make realistic goals and allow your child to set the pace
Start in the driveway: The narrowness can help your child naturally steer straight
Next, an empty parking lot: Use cones to create a straight pathway before creating a more challenging obstacle course.
Stick to smooth, even terrain free of obstacles as your child learns to pedal.
Attempt an incline before a decline
Increase speed to get the rhythm. Pedaling slowly is hard
Start with very short sessions so that your child does not become overly frustrated (B so that the clock decides when the lesson is over, not you!).
HOW TO CHOOSE A BIKE (Size matters)
To ensure maximum efficiency and to reduce the likelihood of injury, make sure that you purchase a bike that is well-suited to your child. Your local bike vendor will be able to guide you when choosing a bike as well as help fit the bike to your child’s size and preferences.
Children’s bikes are measured in wheel size (diameter) in contrast to adult bikes whose measurements refer to frame size. Here’s a general guide, but I do defer to my bike vendor’s expertise with new riders
Guide to Kid’s Bike Sizes:
Bike Wheel Size
Age 2 – 5
26 – 34 inches
Age 4 – 8
34 – 42 inches
Age 6 – 9
42 – 48 inches
Age 8 – 12
48 – 56 inches
56 – 62 inches
A few general guidelines to keep in mind:
When standing over the frame with both feet flat on the ground, there should be 1-2 inches of clearance between your child and the tube of the frame.
Seat height: your child’s legs should be able to extend almost completely straight, with slight bending at the knee when the foot is on the pedal in the bottom position. If your child can put his feet flat on the ground other than on tippy-toes while seated, the seat is too low.
The seat itself: should be as level as possible to avoid sliding forward or slipping backward.
The height of the handlebar: should be at a level that feels comfortable to avoid straining the muscles of the back, shoulders, and wrists. Generally, the higher the handlebar, the more upright your child will sit.
NEED HELP? OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS TO THE RESCUE!
As a parent, teaching your child to bike can be frustrating when your child "just doesn’t get it! POTS to the rescue! As for many other sports skills, occupational therapists use their knowledge of motor skills, coordination, and development to adapt bicycle riding training to meet your child's learning style. We use Occupational Therapist Kristin Masci's 10-step method, the EASY RIDER method to help your child progress step by step to get kids biking. During one-on-one lessons, the steps are presented carefully and gradually. For children who take longer to learn, strategies are provided to guide parents for additional practice at home.