Should your three-year-old be learning to ride a bike?
A cycle training company says that teaching children as young as three how to cycle gives them a "life skill".
The comments come after a national preschool chain announced this summer that it is introducing cycling classes for children aged three to five.
The Co-Operative Childcare made the decision after surveying parents of its pupils. Its findings revealed that more than a third of the parents wished that they had learned to ride a bike at a younger age, while nearly half wanted their children to learn how to ride a bike at preschool.
Cambridge-based cycle training company Outspoken currently runs cycle training courses for children as young as four, and has previously run courses for nurseries.
Head of Training at Outspoken Kieron McNab said: "From our perspective enthusing kids at an early age is great, because hopefully you are creating lifelong cyclists.
"The kids absolutely love it because they get a sense of independence for the very first time."
Both Outspoken and the Co-Operative Childcare use "balance bikes" which have no pedals, to teach children how to cycle, rather than children's bicycles with pedals and stabilisers.
Mr McNab said that this method – which you can use simply by removing the pedals from a regular children's bike – means that children learn the more difficult skill of balancing on a bike, rather than simply learning to pedal. This makes the transition to cycling a pedalled bike easier, as the children already know how to balance.
Mr McNab continued: "I used to do something called multi-skills coaching, developing the core skills needed to play sport, and balance is definitely one of them – it's a life skill."
While parents might worry about letting their three-year-old loose on two wheels, he says this is a safe way to learn.
"The early sessions they are almost sat on a bike just walking," he said. "Then they start pushing and gliding. In that sense it works really well in terms of naturally controlling how the kids progress."
He said he was in favour of nurseries in Cambridge teaching young children to cycle, and advised parents wanting to teach their kids to cycle to use a balance bike, or remove the pedals from a child's bike.
He said that one of the most frequent pieces of feedback outspoken got from teaching young children to cycle was that it enabled families to take part in cycle rides together.
"You've got that culture of cycling in Cambridge," he said. "And being able to open that up for the family is really important."
Outspoken currently delivers train for children from Reception to secondary school age, as well as courses for adult riders.
To find out more visit outspokentraining.co.uk.
Article written by Cambridge News: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/should-your-three-year-old-be-learning-to-ride-a-bike/story-29589415-detail/story.html#w6TARC1IWCpuzcMs.99
click to enlarge