Over the summer holidays we ran a cycling course for learners who were finding it a little tricky to learn. Some of our pupils have issues with gross motor skills, coordination and balance, making learning to ride a bike a real challenge. I was approached by specialist physiotherapist Gabriella Todd who suggested running a cycling course. Gabriella is very experienced in working with children with Specific Learning Difficutlies, particularly dyspraxic children. Her stories of successfully teaching very nervous learner how to ride a bike during a short, intensive course sounded like a fantastic opportunity for some of our pupils.
I really wasn’t disappointed! Blessed with perfectly times sunny spells of weather over the three 80 minute sessions we saw the nervous, the wobbly and the ‘I’m not even going to sit on the seat,’ blossom and grow into confident handlers of their bikes. Not all of them were able to cycle fully independently by the end of the course but they were keen, enthusiasitc and very almost there. The fact that parents took part in the course too, meant that they themselves learn how to teach their children in safe, easy steps.
I couldn’t help but draw parallels with teaching dyslexic children literacy skills. As specialist teachers we take our children back to the basics, developing phonological awareness, rhyming skills etc. before expecting them to apply this to written words. In the cycling class we taught the children which side of the bicycle to stand on, how to hold and walk with their bicycle. In children without any specific difficulties these basic steps will come without them really thinking about it. Without them having to be explicitly taught. Our children need more. Each step of the course was just a little more than they had done before, with plently of opportunities to revisit prior knowledge, exactly as we teach our dyslexic pupils. It seems obvious that this is the way to teach children with any specific learning difficulty but just like the inexperienced NQT I was 14 years ago, faced with a severely dyslexic pupil, many parents teaching their children to cycle may not really know where to start.
So if anyone is feeling frustrated or at a loss when faced with a child who is learning to ride, it is perfectly acceptable to look for help and guidance! Just as we would with a child who is struggling to learn to read.
If you are interestd in one of our cycling courses, please contact us via the contact form to join our waiting list.
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