When presented with their very own kick scooter, it’s likely your child will want to hop on and begin riding right away—we don’t blame them! Kick scooters are entertaining, action-packed, affordable, and make the perfect mode of transportation for youngsters still finding their balance and learning the ropes of more advanced outdoor equipment. Create a memorable first-time riding experience for both you and your child by following a few simple steps that prioritize safe riding strategies and celebrate success at a new skill.
1. Safety First
Proper safety equipment is a critical component to any scooterist’s first ride. Along with an adjustable helmet, sturdy footwear, and athletic clothing, you may want to purchase elbow and knee pads for extra padding and protection. Additionally, confirm the weather offers appropriate riding conditions, as scooters should not be used if it is raining, snowing, or exceptionally windy. Once your child is dressed in the appropriate gear and the outdoor environment has passed the safety check, proceed to step number two.
2. Determine Your Child’s Dominant Foot
Before mounting the device, you’ll want to determine your child’s dominant foot. While the majority of individuals are right foot dominant, you’ll want to perform one of two tests to confirm your child’s natural inclination.
a. Fall Test
- Position your child with feet that are shoulder width apart on a flat surface.
- Instruct them to slowly lean forward, as if falling, until they suddenly extend one foot to catch themselves.
- The foot they use to stop the fall is the child’s dominant foot.
If the falling test sounds a bit too advanced, the stair technique may be the better choice.
b. Stair Test
- Have your child stand at the bottom of a set of stairs with both feet flat on the ground.
- Then, ask your child to run or walk up the stairs.
- The foot the child leads with to climb the stairs is likely the dominant foot.
Once you’ve determined your child’s dominant foot, you can move on to mounting the scooter to practice the proper stance and balancing strategy.
3. Find the Right Stance
Now that you’ve determined your child’s footedness, you’ll want them to mount the scooter with the weaker foot first. In other words, whichever foot caught them or led them up the stairs should always be behind their less dominant foot. Their strong foot will be used to kick, or paddle, and the weaker foot will remain firmly planted on the scooter. It may be a good idea to have your child practice mounting the scooter with their less dominant foot a few times to ensure they understand how to balance and kick.
4..Adjust the Scooter Accordingly
The scooter should be set up in accordance with your child’s height. Most kick scooters are equipped with adjustable handlebars--determining the appropriate height for the rider’s comfort and safety is key. While balancing the scooter for your child, have them stand flat-footed atop the scooter deck. The height of the handlebars should fall between their hip height and waist height. For beginning riders, handlebars positioned closer to the waist are recommended, as handlebars that are adjusted too high may cause the rider to lose control.
5. Select a Safe Location to Ride
A neighborhood cul-de-sac or even the driveway of your home is a great place for new riders to practice their skills. Make your child aware of any street markers, such as stop signs or crosswalks, and be sure to choose a location where other motorists are traveling at slower speeds. Busy areas as well as locations with uneven and rough terrain should be avoided. We recommend practice areas such as school parking lots on the weekend or unoccupied basketball courts, as these areas offer your child plenty of open space.
Once you’ve achieved these five steps, it’s time to practice riding. Ask your child to push forward a bit with their dominant foot, keeping their non-dominant foot planted on the scooter deck. Once the child feels comfortable performing walking movements with the help of the scooter, they can begin taking longer, gliding steps with their pushing foot. Achieving balance and fluid forward motion may take some time, but gradual progress and continued practice will guarantee improvement. Learning how to ride a kick scooter is a great way to get active, spend time outdoors, and teach your little one a new skill, so grab your gear and get riding!