Learning Balance & Motor Skills At Your Child’s Pace
A balance trainer bike is a bike without pedals that is pushed forward by the child’s feet on the ground – let’s call it a balance trainer from here on. This concept was considered a luxury or toy a few years ago but it has taken off and the market has grown extremely strong in recent years for 1 main reason - parents experience first-hand the incredible effect a balance trainer has on the development of their child and they proudly and actively recommend this concept to other parents. The balance trainer market has been one of the strongest growing word-of-mouth markets in the toy and bike industry in recent years.
Balance trainers are a great step in the development process of learning to ride a bicycle and, more in general, to learn coordination skills. However, balance trainers are still quite a challenge for children to learn at first as they have typically only ridden on very stable 4-wheeled or 3-wheeled ride-ons before making the switch to a completely unstable balance trainer.
The “gradual balance” concept facilitates this learning process by offering a more gradual transition between stable and balance.
Phase 1: Moving away from stability (age 1-2)
The Bunzi gradual balance trainer is specifically developed to offer a fairly stable 3-wheel tricycle mode when the child learns its first balance. The back wheels offer more stability, but are positioned close enough to allow the child to feel he is in control of his own balance whenever he leans too far outside. It is purposely less stable than a traditional 4-wheel ride- on. So in first stages of using the gradual balance trainer, it is recommended to supervise the child. The seat in this mode is at a fairly low position so the child can at all times reach the ground more than easily. Most children in the early stages will push the gradual balance trainer forward with both feet simultaneously. It is advisable to only let your child ride a tricycle when he/she has mastered the basic balance of standing and walking on his/her own.
Phase 2: Growing towards balance (age 2-3)
In phase 2, the Bunzi gradual balance trainer can be switched over into 2-wheel balance mode. From this moment on, the child will learn true balance on a ride-on he is already familiar and comfortable with.
The big advantage in this approach is that the Bunzi gradual balance trainer can be switched back and forth between 3-wheel and 2-wheel mode so easily that it becomes a gradual learning process for the child. If the 2-wheel mode is a bit too early, the product is switched back to 3-wheel mode for a few hours or even days or weeks. After spending some more time grasping the basic coordination skills and basic balance, the gradual balance trainer is switched over to the 2-wheeled balance mode. And any time the child feels a bit less comfortable in 2-wheel mode, the 3-wheel mode is there to gain some confidence again. Most children at this stage (some earlier, some later) will start to push the gradual balance trainer forward by alternating their feet. The higher seat position facilitates this new coordination skill.
A Growing Bike
The Bunzi gradual balance trainer adapts to the child’s growth. In 3-wheel tricycle mode, the seat will be in its lowest position, allowing the child to reach the ground so easily that it becomes more difficult (although not impossible!) to lose balance. The feet provide ample support and enhance the child’s feeling of control over its own body weight. The typical parallel pushing movement of both feet in the early stages of development is easier to do when the seat is in the low position.
When switching to 2-wheel balance mode, the seat is positioned higher, because:
- The child has grown
- It stimulates the balance feeling
- The child will be in a better ergonomic position to really push off and make speed
- The alternating pushing actions of both feet are facilitated by the higher position
Depending on the height of the child, the maximum age at which the child enjoys riding the gradual balance trainer in 2-wheel mode is 3 to up to 5 years. Note that the maximum rider weight for the gradual balance trainer is 25 kg, which should never be exceeded.
Advantages of the gradual balance concept
- One single ride-on that the child feels comfortable with to learn as it grows, step-by-step. Switch back and forth between 3 wheels and 2 wheels whenever it feels right to do so.
- Every child is different: there is no need to plan for the right moment to buy a balance bike. Just switch to 2-wheel mode whenever you think the child is ready. If not, just switch back for a while.
- Developing balance motor skills helps the child in developing his coordination and physical self-confidence in a fun and gradual way.
- Motor skills are the building blocks of a child’s future physical and mental development and there are numerous advantages in learning balance at an early age.
- Enjoy learning balance skills earlier : kids just love balance bikes and the gradual balance concept lengthens the period in which kids can enjoy playing on balance bikes.
- A budget-friendly approach as the gradual balance trainer offers both concepts in one.
Is quicker better ?
There is no rush to learn balance, so do not worry if your child is 2 and didn’t really feel confident yet to try out his balance. But waiting for a child to become 4-5 years old and then trying to teach them to ride a bicycle for the first time without any balance training is not only old-fashioned, it is unnecessarily late.
Children learn by playing so let them have fun and enjoy their learning curve!!
This post is edited from an original article by Chillafish Company. For more information, visit www.chillafish.com