Folders, pencils, and glue sticks fill the aisles of every superstore. The scent of clean shoes and new jeans fill the air as kids lay out their “first day of school” outfits. Parents have a pep in their step. Teacher’s peaceful sleep has been interrupted by dreams/nightmares of their classrooms and lesson plans. It’s that time of year, back-to-school. Summer is a long break from spelling and arithmetic, and some parents and teachers might be worried about getting their children caught up. If your munchkin spent their summer romping and riding a bike, you likely don’t have much to worry about. It turns out, riding a bike is more than just an awesome time, it can also help with school performance. Now that’s news that teachers, parents, AND kids can celebrate together! Let’s take a closer look at how, specifically, the balance, core strength, and confidence a child gains from riding a bike can have a positive impact on how they do in school.
Getting kids out to move and shake has always been an important part of their overall wellbeing. There are mounting factors that are making it harder for kiddos to get the physical activity needed to stay happy and healthy. Kids are spending less time at the playground and on bikes and more time with phones and tablets. Safety concerns make it difficult for some parents to let their children play or roam freely. Even a greater academic pressure placed on kids at younger ages can prevent children from moving as much as they need, with some schools limiting or cutting recess. All of this, in addition to the hustle of daily life, can push a bike ride to the bottom of the priority list. Physical activity isn’t just good for physical health; it is important for mental health and can improve how well kids do in school. Recent studies have shown that improved physical fitness can have positive effects on academic performance in mathematics, reading, and writing. The positive impact is immediate too! Studies have also shown that after just one session of physical activity, children can increase their attention and memory, and reduce inappropriate behavior, such as being unfocused and causing others to become distracted (1). (TEACHERS, GET A LOAD OF THIS!). It doesn’t stop there. These studies go on and on measuring the positive impact on brain functions, attention, and memory. Basically, when kids move their bodies, everyone (kids, parents, teachers) benefits. Riding a bike is a childhood pastime. Kids love it! Going for a ride increases fun and grades.
Recent studies have shown that improved physical fitness can have positive effects on academic performance in mathematics, reading, and writing.
Balance and Core Strength
It doesn’t seem hard to believe that more physical exercise is beneficial for kids in many ways. What if we told you that strengthing a child’s balance and core strength, specifically, can translate to improved classroom experience? You might think, “you’re a bike company, what do you know?” Well, every single day we get to see all kinds of amazing things happen when kids ride bikes! This is what we do and love.
Teachers often struggle with kiddos who fidget or don’t sit up in their desks. Some kids have a hard time focusing and paying attention. Many kids struggle with handwriting, copying notes from the board, or following a line of text when reading. This can make learning and test-taking very difficult. Teachers, parents, and kids alike can get very frustrated. The solution, many times, is simpler than hiring tutors, restrictive diets, or even medications. Experts are discovering just how important balance and core strength is to all aspects of a child’s life.
An article from Integrated Learning Strategies states, “Another problem kids often struggle with is attention and focus in the classroom. Usually, they are clumsy, they run into walls or furniture, they fidget in their chairs, lean over their desks, and they can’t process what their teacher is saying because they are focused on other distractions in the classroom. These can all be issues related to their vestibular system, which is their balance and coordination. When we see these issues, we know the child isn’t getting the movement they need to help improve their inner ear and core muscle (3)."
Improving a child’s balance and core strength can help with:
• Gross and fine motor skills (handwriting, using scissors, tying shoes, etc.)
• Develop strong sitting posture (able to hold themselves steady for longer periods)
• Improved visual perception (taking notes from the board)
How can you help your child improve their balance and core strength, hence their performance in school? Go for a bike ride! Riding a bike, especially starting on a Strider Bike, helps kids develop the very strength and coordination that will help them with hand-writing and sitting in a desk for long periods. It also gives them more physical activity, which we now know helps them focus. Riding a bike also gives them tons of fun, freedom, and bonding with other kids or the family. Um, WINNING!
The benefits of riding a bike don’t stop there; they go beyond the physical. Learning to ride a bike and eventually using that bike to gain more independence is a way to build the confidence children need, not only for their academic success but success in life. Riding a Strider Bike gives children a taste of success and freedom at a very young age. They begin to learn to trust their ability and take calculated risks. They learn to deal with failure and are motivated to try again. As children grow, riding a bike continues to help them build fortitude and belief in themselves. The article, Building Grit in Girls Through Mountain Biking, published in The New York Times, talks about just that. In it, Annika Peacock, who was 15 at the time, says about mountain biking, “There’s a certain work ethic you have to have to be a mountain biker. If there’s a section of the trail that’s really hard for me, I’ll go try it five more times. I say to myself, yes, yes, yes, I can do this.” And then the next day? “I go back and do it again.”
Riding a Strider Bike gives children a taste of success and freedom at a very young age. They begin to learn to trust their ability and take calculated risks. They learn to deal with failure and are motivated to try again. As children grow, riding a bike continues to help them build fortitude and belief in themselves.
Confidence is no stranger to sports. Playing sports is often associated with qualities like tenacity, courage, belief, diplomacy, and willpower. These are qualities that often describe someone successful. The beauty of biking is, you never have to sit on the bench! That same confidence that a child develops through riding a bike helps them excel in the classroom. “Building confidence in students can help prevent student dropout rates, ensure kids maintain their love for learning, and help them achieve their dreams and goals by staying in school and going to college. There is no question that the relationship between student confidence and educational success is tightly intertwined (2)." Just thinking about this makes us want to jump on a bike!
You are likely busy checking your school supply list and stocking your cabinets with apple sauce. You are trying to get yourself and your kiddos used to going to bed and getting up earlier. Jackets and long sleeve shirts are being pulled out of closets, and fresh haircuts are begin given. Everybody has high hopes. As you are busy preparing for a successful year ahead, don’t forget to get out for plenty of bike rides too! Make this school year great with increased focus, attention, fine motor skills, and confidence – all with the help of a good ol’ fashion bike ride.
1. Castelli, Darla M., et al. “Active Education: Growing Evidence on Physical Activity and Academic Performance.” RWJF, 26 July 2019, www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2011/02/active-living-resource-center.html.
2. “Student Confidence & Student Self-Esteem.” EduNova, 4 Feb. 2013, www.edu-nova.com/articles/student-confidence/.
3. Villaneda, Alene. “Why These Core Muscle Exercises Help Prevent Learning Challenges in the Classroom.” Integrated Learning Strategies, 7 May 2019, ilslearningcorner.com/2015-11-why-these-core-muscle-exercises-help-prevent-learning-challenges-in-the-classroom/.