Just like riding a bike…


I will assume most of you know what this object is. And also how to use one.

At some point in life, you were given access to a bike or owned one yourself. If you had one, you probably decided on your own when you wanted to learn how to ride it. Once you learned, you never had to re-learn. Riding a bike just sticks with you. So cliché, I know.

All three of my boys have learned to ride a bike.

Vader was the first to receive a bike and he was excited to get outside to try it.  My husband and I did our best to explain how to ride a bike. It was our first time teaching this skill. There was a period of demonstrating before he had to do it for himself, but because there were no other kids to copy, he was on his own after that.  He picked it up eventually, and once he did, his horizons expanded well beyond the end of the driveway.

Vader's first "bike"
Vader’s first “bike”

Splash and Turtle received bikes a year later and were eager to join their older brother on two wheels. Splash leaned heavily on my husband and me, figuratively and literally. He was armed with a helmet, knee pads, AND elbow pads. He went slowly, even with the training wheels. He took his time. He wanted us to walk next to him, help him to steer and stop. Then, with each pass down the road, he picked up steam, and started to ride on his own.

Splash is not so sure.

Turtle, despite his nickname on this blog, tried a different tact. He skipped the safety gear. He hated the training wheels. He almost hit parked cars. He fell. And fell. But he learned to ride. He was (and is now) fearless on two wheels.

Turtle says, “Bring it on!”

Think about your own experience. If you used training wheels, you probably do not consider yourself a sub-par rider because of it. I am guessing you probably forgot about most of the falling down and while it did not feel that way at the time, no one (probably) counted the number of falls.

There was no pre bike-riding assessment or post-riding recap. There was (and still is) no right way to learn or wrong way to learn how to ride a bike, other than various kinds of trial and error…and a little courage.

The adults wanted you to succeed because they loved you and supported your interest in learning. The other kids wanted you to learn so that you could join in on the fun. No one really cared how long it took to become proficient, except maybe you.

You learned it because you wanted to. And you learned the way that worked for you.

That is how I want my children to learn. I want them to want it. I want them to embrace it. I know that they’ll probably fall down, but because they want to learn, they’ll get up and try again.

With this kind of learning, the freedom that comes with reaching the goal is immensely gratifying. And like riding a bike, it opens up a whole new world to explore.


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