Monday, July 26, 2010

Teaching Children to Commute

Samuel learned to ride his bike about a year ago! He was not even 4 yrs old. We were so proud! It was sooo cute watching a tiny little kid on a tiny little bike ride around with no training wheels or anything. Samuel loved the independence and the feeling of being "big".

Now we are slowly working on teaching him road safety. This idea alone was so frightening to me as a mom. However, the reality of my experience commuting with kids is quite the opposite. I think my main block was imagining a little boy riding down the road with traffic... terrifying. The reality is that we go very very slow. First we learned to ride in a strait line. Then we road a couple blocks in our neighborhood to the park. We practice listening to mom, stopping when I say to stop, looking for traffic signs, looking for driveways, stopping when we get to a street. We turn riding into a game and see who can find all the driveways we pass. I ride or walk behind with his little brother in a stroller so I can see what he is doing and give instruction. This makes me slower than Samuel and that gives him a chance to stop and wait for me and to listen carefully.

This practice is producing wonderful fruit! He is becoming much more aware than I ever imagined possible for a little boy. It also helps him to co-regulate an activity with me and helps with concentration and social skills. Ok, this is a far cry from kids riding with traffic like I imagined! We only go in our neighborhood to the library or the park. We treat it with the same respect and caution that I would on a regular road and I am confident that as his readiness increases and he rides with me more and more he will be a very safe and competent commuter.


DerrickP said...

We're learning the very same thing right now with our five year-old. She's at the point that she doesn't want to ride on the xtracycle. She'd rather do the peddling herself. She feels stuck between that "big girl" independence, but still listening to ol' mom and dad. Good to see other families having the same experience!

fred said...

Great post. I really share your feelings on the pleasant educational value of teaching our children to commute by bike. I've followed your 'long walk' for a while, ever since I saw the old double-seat mod to your Big Dummy (which I used as a starting point to build my own - now riding with my 4.5yo and 2.5yo children on a Xtracycle'd bike for over two years). Everything you do is extremely inspirational. Keep on being a good example not only for your children but for the entire humanity.
Best regards,

MN_homesteader said...

Heilsa (Hello),
We have chatted in the past about cycling, and living in Longmont. I wanted to let you know we are now living in Longmont again and would love to meet for a ride sometime once our bikes arrive in early September. We are about 1 mile from school and are also working on how to get the boys to school by non-motorized mode while feeling safe about them.
In Frith, (In Peace)