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  • Writer's picturePeter Jeffers

More than Bikeability

During Autumn I worked with my fellow instructor Holly teaching Balance bikes to reception and year 1 children at a primary school in Burton on Trent. I was there mostly because we where short staffed (mostly due to covid) and also I think because the office wanted to get rid of me for a few weeks. I enjoy being back out with children (and the instructors) delivering Bikeability and really making a difference. But I was a little daunted at the prospect of delivering a course I hadn't taught in a while and to a lot of children with some pretty tight group turnarounds. However Holly, (my co instructor) I had been told was particularly brilliant so I was really there just to catch the kids who where struggling.

One of which was little four and half year old boy with suspected global development delay that no one had ever heard speak. His Mum said he did at home but no one had ever heard him Nurses doctors teachers, no one and the but the school and his nursery doubted wether he really did talk at home. I decided early on that teaching him to ride was going to be a monumental achievement, and so what I wanted him to have was a fun time. So that was my focus.

We glided round the playground on the balance bike and the faster I pushed the more he smiled. We joined in as many of Holly's games as we could and it was part way through one these games while we both stood listening to Holly's instructions I felt a little hand move up into mine. I wasn't sure what to do this was big break through, but after the talking had finished I decided to ask him a question.

"Do you like going Fast ?"

He grinned at me. I told him that I thought it was ok for him to Say "yes" if he wanted to.

And quietly he looked at me he whispered "Yes" I couldn't believe it, I tried not to show how excited I was and instead we set off on another rocket trip around the playground before trying again. Again he answered yes but this time in ear shot of his TA who I'd got to listen. She burst in to tears.

I had a lovely time working with him and the rest of the group and by the end of session he was answering me with "Yes" and "No" and said "goodbye" to me while walking off the playground with I the head teacher looking on. There was a lot of tears and it was a moment that will stay with me for a long time.

From here he has started to talk in the class room to (mostly to male TA's and class mates) and after six weeks of balance bikes he was shouting out "Oh My Gosh" whilst gliding across the playground independently. Nearly all the children learnt to ride a bike with pedals over the weeks but I think what he gained was way more than that, Im not sure I know exactly what that is. But here's the thing, I think I gained more than he did.

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