As avid dirt bike riders we want to pass on our enthusiasm to our kids. Bruce Moore says about that special bond with his son, “Dirt biking has definitely strengthened my relationship with Jamie. One of my greatest joys is riding with him. It gives us a chance to share very real experiences together. We face and overcome fear and, as our riding skills grow, we rejoice in each others accomplishments. Now, we have a greater mutual respect and admiration for each other.”
The Limitations of Youths
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Dirt Bike School has done extensive study on how youngsters learn. Kids have limitations so adults should learn certain guidelines on how to teach them correctly and safely. Young riders learn differently than teenagers and adults, so there are special techniques that can be used.
Children that are under 12 years old can’t discriminate perceptually as well as older children can. Young kids cannot track objects or make judgments about moving objects in relation to fixed objects. They tend to focus on one thing at a time. Strategies for assessing risk and recognizing hazards are hard to teach.
Because of their mental and physical development, young kids should be taught separate from people over the age of twelve. A six year old may be riding around just fine then suddenly stops to look at something without thinking about any other riders that may be behind him or her. Kids usually have short attention spans and little stamina. They seem to like playing follow the leader while riding or have the parent walk beside them as they learn.
To maximize kids learning, try to keep words simple and talk at their level. Kneel down and get to their eye level. Teach them one thing at a time. Most importantly make sure the youth is riding an appropriately sized bike.
Before You Begin
Be sure your child really wants to learn how to ride a dirt bike. Find out if his or her hands are strong enough to work the controls. Determine what kind of coordination they already possess. Are they patient? Are you patient? Find these things out ahead of time. Approach teaching kids from their point of view.
Make sure your dirt bike riding/learning area is a relatively flat, open area free from obstacles and debris. Try to have few distractions like other riders buzzing around. Again, maintain control of your riding area and the child you’re teaching.
Keep in mind that to be a good instructor, standing in front of the student to keep their attention works best. Maintain control and keep it fun. End the learning session before the student gets exhausted and fatigued.