They both “graduated” to a pedal bike. “From what?” you ask?
Their prior bikes were modified by Papa (removing the pedals and chain) to create what is commonly called a Strider Bike or Balance Bike. The commercial version comes in a range of designs, but here are a couple of examples:
Although Jewel was 5 (and R.T. 2), neither of them had had a lot of exposure to cycling, and both were struggling. After reading about the balance bikes, we decided to ditch the training wheels approach for good.
With the balance bike, the child learns to balance on the seat, steer the bike, lean into turns, and so on. Many things that they actually learn to do incorrectly with training wheels! Since they didn’t get much chance to ride until recently, our kids had their balance bikes for about two years.
With a little instruction about getting started, Jewel literally got on her bike and took off! Wow!!
R.T. took a few more laps of “hand-holding”, since he was more unsure of himself. For two days (short periods each day) he fumbled along, but after that he was whizzing along with no worries.
Quite a different story from the drama I remember when I had to learn to ride without my training wheels!
I can now recommend without hesitation the balance bike method of teaching a child to ride a bicycle. And with a free or cheap second-hand bike and a few simple modifications, you don’t even have to spend the money on a fancy commercial version.
P.S. Jewel now owns a couple of split skirts for bike riding, to allow her more freedom of movement (and safety) while staying modestly covered even if the wind comes up! More that just culottes, these are more inspired by the women of the Wild West. But these deserve a post of their own, so stay tuned!