Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Training Wheels

At school I have been trying to teach my students to ride a bike. It has been a long process... about three years. None of my students bang into the lockers as we go down the hall anymore, but children walking towards the office or to the bathroom sometimes have to dart out of the way or be run over. One student is getting close to not needing training wheels so my aides and I have been discussing the best way to take the step towards soloing on a two wheeeler. Our discussion included recalling how each of my kids finally got rid of the bike crutches. The memory was a good one, so I thought I would share.

Dori had no sense of balance at all. It is good that she is the oldest because if I knew how much harder it was to get her to ride a two-wheeler compared to her siblings, she would still have training wheels on her bike! Dori could run into a curb, then shoot across the street and bounce right off the side of a car in no time flat. No tree in our neighborhood was safe from Dori crashing into it. Thank goodness helmets were invented or she would have gotten a head injury besides all the bruises she accumulated.

Macy was little miss independent. She did not want me touch her bike. She wanted to do it all by herself. We had a system where she would stand the bike in the road next to the curb. The pedal farthest from the curb had to be up as high as it could be so she could stand with her right foot on the curb, push off and immediately start pedaling with her left foot. She could go about one turn then fell off. So all the way around the block we would get the pedals set up and move forward about 12 feet and then have to do it all over again. It took two times around the block at a very slow pace.... but she did do it.

Pete was Macy's polar opposite. He did not want me to let go. Unfortunately, he was much faster than Macy. This meant that I had to hold on to the back of his bike while he rode and run like heck down our street. I am sure all the neighbors were thrilled to get to watch me run like a banshee while hanging on to the back of Pete's bike.

Dill hated his training wheels. They made a sound as they hit the road that bothered him. It wasn't that the sound was so loud or obnoxious that it was bothersome. He did not like that no one else's bike had the extra wheels or the extra noise. When Dill was 4 1/2 he begged me to take off his training wheels. It was during our first camping trip and only the beginning of summer so he hadn't gotten to practice much. I told him I thought he should wait. He would not let it go. I told him that if I took the training wheels off I would not put them back on. He said ok. Finally, I gave in. I thought he was too little and worried that he would be walking the whole summer while everyone else rode bikes. I took the training wheels off, held the bike up for him while he got on the first time, gave him a little push and off he rode, perfectly. He rode the bike like a pro right from the start. Pepper, the other kids and I were all amazed. I should have told him how to stop though.... that gave him a little trouble. Again, good thing for helmets. :)

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