Lessons in learning to ride a bike in Kent with CYCLEme TOTS
A company in Kent is teaching children as young as two to ride a bicycle.
Despite being seen as an important life skill it isn't one all children take to easily, with more than half of all six-year-olds thought to be unable to ride.
But help is at hand for parents in the county with family business CYCLEme Tots started by couple Chris Mollison, 35, and wife Sarah, 30.
Chris said: “My son Oakley, who’s now three, was born in 2015 and not long after his birth, I left my job in sales to follow my passion for cycling. I started CYCLEme Fitness, a cycling based fitness company for adults.
“My son was constantly surrounded by bikes from birth and by 18 months he started to show a real interest in a balance bike at a toddler play group session. I thought it would be good if we could enrol him in some structured sessions using balance bikes and was shocked that I couldn’t find anything in the local area."
Discovering a gap in the market the pair, from Larkfield, set up CYCLEme TOTS to run alongside CYCLEme Fitness and partnered with balance bike brand Strider.
Balance bikes look like regular bicycles, but without pedals and research shows children who ride them generally progress to riding pedal bikes independently at a much younger age than those who learn using stabilisers. In addition, it’s found that the transition is a much smoother one.
Once the equipment was taken care of, CYCLEme TOTS was born.
The programme was rolled out to Kent based schools, nurseries and community centres and from the off, the take up was huge.
Chris says: “There was an immediate and overwhelming interest and we couldn’t keep up with the demand! Pretty soon the majority of the classes were over subscribed and had waiting lists.
“We had to take on other staff members in order to run all of the classes and I’ve had to put my adult cycling company on the back burner to focus on CYCLEme TOTS.”
The classes ensure children have fun while learning how to cycle - as well as the importance of safety, techniques and fitness.
They also promote team play and taking turns as well as developing motor skills, confidence and co-ordination.
Sarah added: “We passionately believe in giving young children the opportunity to learn to ride a bike and gain confidence in a fun and structured way. Our programme is working so well and we are so excited about sharing it.
“Class activities are delivered in small groups of no more than 12 which ensure children receive the attention and support that they need."
CYCLEme TOTS runs classes for children aged two to seven:
* Tiny Tots, for children two and above, is suitable for beginners, offering a fun and engaging introduction to balance bikes.
* Taller Tots, for children three and over, is for confident balance bikers looking to challenge their skill level in preparation for pedals.
* Balance to Pedal courses are small group courses which transition children from a balance bike onto a pedal bike, ensuring they learn to ride confidently, safely and independently.
Courses are currently being held in Ditton, East Malling, Kings Hill, Maidstone and Meopham.