Teaching your child to ride a motorcycle can
be very trying for many parents. The intention and desire
is genuine but lack of patience and teaching experience
Wheels-4-Tots has been teaching kids to ride
for years. Through the assistance of our dealerships we
have developed on-site riding opportunities for kids.
With opportunities such as these, many kids have had the
chance to ride a bike for the first time. Riders usually
range in age and ability, sometimes training wheels are
needed, and sometimes they are not. We not only teach
the kids how to ride but also teach the local dealership
personnel (and parents) how to continue early-riding education
in their area.
Some of the most common teaching tips center
around you as the instructor. Remember, the young rider
will “play” off of your emotions. If your
actions suggest fear or tension as the instructor, you
can expect the same back from your pupil. Be calm and
talk slowly. Do not expect immediate results. Some children
take-off right away and others need a little more practice
to increase confidence, as they become a fluent rider.
One of the biggest concerns you should have as
you teach your child to ride is how you explain information
to him or her. Kids do not process information the way
adults do. Make sure you talk and explain things in a
way your child understands. Try not to use multiple commands
at one time. Pick one thing to work on and let the child
master it completely before moving on to bigger and better
things. Know how your rider learns specifically. Are they
a visual, auditory, or spatial learner? Single commands
with gestures and movements seem to help the youngest
riders understand quickly while elevating their confidence
in showing you what they can do.
Another key factor in the education process is
positive reinforcement. Supportive, positive smiles and
comments will only help the teaching process to flourish.
Never be disappointed in your child’s ability to
ride as we have seen it change drastically in literally
hours. Try not to raise your voice as you help the rider
get started. Speak in calm comfortable tones because that
is what they get used to hearing. If you do need to raise
your voice or get the rider’s attention at a later
time, they will respond much sooner if your “teaching
tone” and “attention tone” differ dramatically.
Parents naturally expect the most from their children
and equally so, children want to please mom and dad. The
best parents as instructors and most successful young
riders have accomplished realistic expectations together.
Give them some time…you’ll both be proud of
One example of Wheels-4-Tots, and its training
wheels, in a successful first-time riding experience.
First of all, we have the rider sit on the bike
with all of their safety gear on (helmet, gloves, riding-pants,
etc...). We do not start the bike right away but rather
get down on our knees in front of the rider and establish
firm, reassuring eye contact. By talking slowly and calmly
about what we are about to do, we give them very basic
knowledge. Remember, it is easy to advance with small
steps and virtually impossible to fail. Expectations are
solid and well defined leaving room for advancement at
every moment. We do not tell the rider that they are going
to be riding all over the place in a matter of minutes;
they aren’t ready for that yet. Let them focus on
a “step”, not the end result. After the brakes
and gas have been explained to the rider, we have them
practice with the bike off. Basics are made into a fun
quiz as we ask them to show us the brakes and then the
gas, mixing the two commands up randomly while speeding
up their reaction times. This is a fun activity for the
rider but more importantly starts to establish a habit
in their mind. Before the motorcycle is started, young
children know where the controls are located and how they
After confidence is demonstrated in the previous
non-threatening environment, we start the bike and have
them practice the same procedures from above. Kids are
allowed to give the bike a little gas (just enough to
rev the engine) and then show us the brakes making sure
that the rider still understands our verbal commands.
Next, riders are asked to demonstrate the gas and then
brake to the instructor as they travel to them (about
5-10 feet). They must start and stop several times before
arriving at their instructor. We play a “cat and
mouse game” for a few minutes to build confidence
and establish a future habit. As the game proceeds, the
distance the rider travels is increasing with every correct
response. By the time we are done, most riders have a
good foundation of what we want them to do. If not, we
keep doing the same drill over and over until the riders'
confidence and ability increases. BE PATIENT, we guarantee
the child is already thrilled with their performance,
take a minute to share that feeling with them.
As the young rider increases in ability, we start
putting obstacles around for them to develop steering
and cornering techniques. Another person is excellent
to use at this point because the young learner will have
another person to help if needed. We usually have two
people standing about 25-40 feet apart from each other.
The rider is instructed to ride to the other person, stop,
turn around, and come back to the first person. The other
instructor in this case will also use the same commands
to help remind the rider of what they are expected to
do. After both right and left-handed turns have been mastered,
kids proceed around instructors without stopping each
time. This is a great drill for riders whether they are
using training wheels or not.
You may want to supplement skills by using a
figure "8" pattern as well as other longer,
curvy pattern tracks. Make it interesting and let kids
develop different skills with a variety of tracks. Make
learning to ride fun, age-appropriate, and non-threatening.
If you do, you will never lose their attention!
**As always, different kids require different
ideas. For other teaching tips, contact us and we would
be happy to provide you with assistance. Likewise, if
you have something to share with others, let us know and
we will be happy to pass the information on.