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I was chatting with some parents at a Bike Circuit Event that I was running on the weekend in Devon and several of them were asking which bike size would be best for their children to start riding on? It’s a common question so hopefully this article gives you some pointers. I certainly recommend starting with a balance bike of some description and not using a bike with stabilizers if you can help it. See my post on the reasons why Stabilizers teach your children bad habits.
Kid’s bikes are sized by their wheel diameter in inches rather than frame size.
Be careful when looking at just age ranges for bikes as children vary hugely in height so they might be too small or too tall for that specific bike. Measuring your child’s height or their inside leg is a much better indicator.
You want your child to be able to sit comfortably on the seat with their feet on the ground and a slight leg bend. They should be able to reach and manoeuvre the handle bars with ease.
It’s always tempting to buy a bike that your child will grow into but be wary of this as a bike that is too big and unwieldy is potentially quite dangerous for your child. You want their first biking experiences to be positive ones!
Also remember that different brands of Balance Bike have different size frames even though they may have the same size wheels. For example, with 12″ wheels, the Strider 12 Sport or Pro models are suitable for a small to average size child.
If your child is on the higher height percentiles, the Wishbone brand bikes have a larger frame size.
See my post Which Balance Bike is Best for my Child? if you want to find out more about the differences between bikes.
The table below gives you an indication of which size to start with and move onto as your child grows and develops their biking skill.
Generally you would look for them to start on a 12″ wheel Balance Bike although if you have a 5 year old or tall 4 year old that is just starting out on their biking adventure, you’d probably be looking at the 14″ wheel size as their starting point.
Once they’ve mastered the balance bike and have been confidently biking around on that for a a few years or have outgrown that frame size, the next step would be to look for a 14″ or 16″ pedal bike depending on what age and height they are when ready to make that transition. Some children are ready to make the move to a pedal bike at 3 years old, others need more time and practice and aren’t ready to progress until they are 6 or 7 years old. Don’t be too much of a rush for them to move onto pedals. They can be very speedy on a balance bike!
Some exciting news about developments in the Strider and Wishbone brands of balance bikes is that they are both bringing out bikes in the next few months that have a pedal attachment. This means that your chosen balance bike can now be their first pedal bike too so will last for longer. A bonus for your child and your pocket!
The Strider 14X Sport Balance Bike/Pedal bike is now our web shop to pre-order for delivery at the end of August 2018.
Check out some action of the Strider 14X Sport below which is the new combined Balance Bike/Pedal Bike from Strider. The UK version will have hand brakes fitted too.
In my previous post “What are Gross Motor Skills and Why are They Important?”, I talked about the importance of motor skills, especially in those early years when your child’s brain is developing at warp speed.
But, what exactly is the link between motor skills development, your child’s learning and their ability to read and write? I’m going to introduce you to a part of the brain that is pretty essential in this. Read on to find out more…..
You’ve probably heard about left and right sides (hemispheres) of the brain and how the left side is responsible for more logical and analytical thinking whereas the right side is the more creative and artistic side.
It’s obviously far more complex than that though. As Dr. Sarah Mckay, a Oxford University trained Neurologist points out in her article The Myth of the Creative-right vs Analytical-left brain:debunked.
“…this simplistic right-brained vs left-brained view of how the brain works is not grounded in evidence!
…Speech and language, for example, are found in the left hemisphere, but not ALL aspects of speech are left-sided. Intonation, for example, is found on the right.
..believing that you are ‘creative but not analytical’, or ‘logical and unintuitive’ and that is hard-wired into your brain, is a rather limiting belief and probably becomes self-fulfilling after a while.”
It is now widely accepted that both sides of the brain are necessary to perform most tasks, they just handle them a bit differently.
There’s no debate however that the left side of the brain controls the movement of the right side of the body and the right side of the brain controls the movement of the left side of the body.
And the part of the brain that links the two sides is called the Corpus Callosum. Check out this DTI image of the structure below, it’s highlighted in orange. It’s a massive bundle of nerve cells and acts a bit like a major highway of ‘communication’ between the left and right sides of the brain. It starts to develop around the 12 weeks stage of human gestation and continues to develop after birth.
This connection between the two sides of the brain is essential for all functions that require integration between the two sides of the body. That list of functions is pretty huge if you think about it!!! Right from getting out of bed at the start of the day, both sides of the body are involved in most movements we do.
From a school learning perspective, reading a book where your child’s eyes scan from left to right across a page or writing words across a page. Using scissors to hold the paper and cut with the other hand, playing a musical instrument or playing sports. They all require both left and right sides of the brain to be communicating in a coordinated way.
As each side of the brain has sensory and motor control of the opposite side of the body. Moving both sides of the body at the same time in a rhythmical fashion will fire up the Corpus Callosum and boost connections between the two sides of the brain.
And the more you do these activities, the more effective and long lasting the nerve connections will be. Have you ever noticed that when you go for a walk, you have much more clarity of thought? I know I do!
The change in habits of our children today are resulting in this connection between left and right brain being under developed. This is causing problems for children entering the school system.
It’s not all doom and gloom though.
There are certain movements that you can do to supercharge development of the Corpus Callosum and the earlier these are done in a child’s life, the better!
A baby’s crawling movements activate both hemispheres in a balanced way and is a great example of bi-lateral coordination. That’s why the crawling stage is so important in brain development, don’t rush for your child to be on their feet too early. Both sides of the body move at the same time completing alternating patterns of movement with arms and legs. Riding a bike, walking, running, climbing are all other examples.
When children are sitting on a seat playing with an electronic device, they don’t do this and the brain connections between the two hemispheres aren’t stimulated anywhere near as much.
Crossing the mid line is the movement of one side of the body across the body’s centre line to the other side. Activities like swinging a bat, kicking a ball, hand clapping games, touching elbow to alternate knee are all examples of this. Again, during these activities the brain sends signals backward and forwards from one side of the brain to the other repeatedly, strengthening the link between them.
That’s why I’m so keen to promote ride-on vehicles such as Trikes and Balance Bikes that allow young children from the age of 1 year and up to repeatedly practice bi-lateral coordination and get those Corpus Callosum nerves firing from an early age!
Other ride-on vehicles like Wishbone Flip and Mini Flips encourage exactly the same development.
What activities do you do to get the Corpus Callosum firing?
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Until next time, keep active,