What is balance and how does learning this skill early on really benefit a child later when riding with pedals, but also in other areas of childhood development?
What is balance?Balance is an even distribution of weight and maintenance of a controlled body position during task performance, enabling someone to remain upright and steady. When kids learn balance at such a young age, they are cautious but skilled riders once they are on a big kids bike with pedals. And they are more likely to ride a bike earlier, without the aid of training wheels.
"They are also aiding their development in other areas of sports and recreation and build confidence in taking risks.[This] involvement in sport is helpful in maintaining self regulation for daily tasks as well as developing a social network and achieving a sense of belonging in a community or social setting. With good balance and coordination there is less likelihood of injury as a child will have appropriate postural responses as (and when) needed (e.g. putting hands out to protect yourself when you fall)." Source: http://www.childdevelopment.com.au
What is balance speed?
Balance speed is the slowest point where the bike will stay upright whilst riding without training wheels.How can you encourage your child to learn balance speed without training wheels? One safe way to do this is to have the seat really low so both feet can touch the ground and your child feels very secure. If you can remove the pedals it is even better. Then, like a double-legged scooter, the bike is pushed along with the feet while seated until a balance speed is reached and both feet can drag freely along. From the successful Bikes in Preschools program to the Sydney City Council Balance Bike Clinics, to the tens of thousands of children who have now learnt to ride from having a balance bike, here is proof that Balance Bikes are a trusted route to teaching your kids to ride a bike.
What are the benefits of a balance bike?Balance bikes allow kids to have fun, keep up with the grown-ups walking speed, and crucially, learn all important balance skills and an understanding of 'balance speed'. Kids learn balance, speed and cornering without having to worry about pedals. It really takes the effort of 'teaching' a kid to ride a bike, as they simply learn by having fun at their own development pace.
On a balance bike, the child will feel safe knowing the ground is close by, and their feet are going to save them if they slow down too much.
The New Zealand Bikes in Schools Preschool Program:
After seeing a great number of children reaching primary school age and having not ridden a bike before, the Bike On Charitable Trust decided to start the 'Bikes in Preschools' program."The sooner you get kids into cycling, the better. This is an opportunity for children to have physical activity as part of their daily life at pre-school", says Carl Cowley, Health Improvement Advisor at Toi Te Ora Public Health Service. Phil Shoemack, Public Health Medical Leader at Bay of Plenty District Health Board, says, "As we get older, we tend to resist change... and I think we should be doing everything we can to encourage children to try new things and to take occassional risks in a safe environment, and [riding balance bikes] is really one way of doing that.
The City of Sydney Council Balance Bike ClinicsThe City of Sydney Council recognises the benefits of a healthy and happy community and for this reason they have invested in providing free balance bike clinics to residents. See more at: http://www.sydneycycleways.net/events/categories/courses/balance-bike-clinics/
Fiona, Mum to 3 year old William, talks about why she chose a Balance Bike:
"As a family, we love walking together. With William riding the balance bike on our walks, he can finally keep up with our walking pace, he can easily manoeuvre the footpaths and obstacles like gumnuts and cracks in the path and he can also stop quickly and easily."I am actually really surprised at how quickly he has picked up the technique. With both feet on the ground, he can walk the bike or he can coast along and enjoy the freedom that comes with biking."
World Classs Balance Biker, Jackson Goldstone, in Action:Want to give your kid some inspiration for riding their balance bike? We know a lot of ByK mums and dads who have shared this video with their kid and it has really given them the confidence to get out and have some fun. Jackson is now 12 years old (as of Jan 2016) and you can check him out here: https://www.facebook.com/JacksonGoldstone.04/. Links:
- The ByK Balance Bike Range for Kids 2 to 5 years old: http://bykbikes.com/byk-learner-balance-bikes.html
- The first ever balance bike: http://dev.bykbikes.com/latest-news/the-first-ever-balance-bike-was-made-in-1816.html
- New Zealand Bikes in Schools http://youtu.be/chtcf7MhtiM
- Childhood Development Balance And Coordination - http://www.childdevelopment.com.au
- How to remove pedals from a bike: http://bykbikes.com/bike-riding-tips/how-to-remove-pedals-from-a-kids-bike.html
- City of Sydney Balance Bike Clinics: http://www.sydneycycleways.net/events/categories/courses/balance-bike-clinics/
- Mums Lounge Review: http://www.mumslounge.com.au/lifestyle/mums-thumbs-up/a-balanced-approach-to-learning-to-ride/