Your kid’s brand new kick scooter just arrived. Now what? The next thing to do is teach them to ride it. But how do you teach a child to ride a kick scooter when you’ve never done it? Or when you don’t know how to ride this personal transportation device yourself? Don’t worry. Because in this teach a child to scoot tutorial, you’ll learn how to help your kiddo master their little land vehicle in no time.
Related: How to Buy a Kick Scooter for Kid
Kick Scooter= Freedom+Fun + Growth+Exercise
When a kid steps on a kick scooter for the first time, they feel free..for the first time. They feel like a free, big kid. A kid who can be on their own without Mom or Dad watching everything and slapping rules and limits on their lives.
By the way kick scooters aren’t the same as electric scooters; they’re not motorized vehicles. This little fun personal transporter is like a skateboard that has handlebars. And skateboards are really cool, aren’t they?
Scooting is a great way for kids to expend some of the excess energy that keeps pushing them toward mindless activities such as binge-playing video games. Or snuggling on a sofa and watching useless cartoons for an eternity.
It’s a fun-packed outdoor pursuit, but it’s more than just a fun activity. Your kid’s motor skills will see some serious improvement. Plus, scootering is physical exercise, one that triggers happiness-boosting chemicals.
But there’s more. Your kid gets to interact with other kids in the neighborhood. And this dramatically enhances their people/social skills.
Did you say you’ve yet to purchase a kick scooter for your daughter or son? No worries. Here’s a kick scooter buying guide to help you pick out the right scooter type for your lovely little angel.
Let’s teach that kid how to hop on their kick scooter and ride already. Let’s teach them how to balance, glide, put the pushing foot down, push forward again, glide again until scooting becomes second nature for them.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything a parent needs to know as far as teaching a child or toddler how to scoot safely. There’s even a list of scooting tips for children and parents near the end of this resource.
Help Your Kid Gear Up First Because Safety Matters
According to this study, scootering is a relatively safe outdoor activity for young kids and teens. The study found that while scooter riding-related injuries happen (mainly bruises and fractures), they tend to be easily treatable.
That said, it makes complete sense to have your little one helmet up and pad up before stepping on their kick scooter. I encourage you to make it a rule: no helmet, no riding. While protective gear guarantees none 100% safety, it sure helps.
You want the child to wear certified protection. And here’s a list of dual-certified helmets that provide adequate protection to the front and back of the head.
Also, the child needs to wear decent outdoor shoes, preferably shoes with thick out soles. The foot brake does get a little hot, and some of the heat transfers to the young rider’s foot. This is an absolute no-no: riding a scooter barefoot.
Now grab that scooter and your child’s hand and head outdoors for a little learning.
How to Teach Your Kid to Ride a Scooter
Follow the step-by-step guide below, and you’ll quickly learn how show your little one how to handle a kick scooter.
Step 1: Adjust Handle Height Correctly
Before you start the scooter riding lesson, make sure your child will be comfortable on the scooter. If the height isn’t set up correctly, the ride will be less comfortable, and safety might be compromised.
T0 determine the right handlebar height for your child, hold the scooter firmly and ask them to step on the deck with the shoes they’ll use to ride the scooter. Then, adjust handle height until the bars are at the same height as the child’s waist height.
I insist that you set the handlebar height to coincide with the child’s waist height no matter what height the kid prefers. I’ve learned that children tend to want the handlebars set at a higher height than their waist height. But a higher-than-the-child’s-waist-height setup always makes it harder for little riders to control the scooter. And less scooter control means a higher risk of falling and possibly a fracture!
Step 2: Find a Safe, Smooth Surface for the Training
You need a paved surface, one that doesn’t have large cracks or small rocks or potholes or other obstacles like that. Check out your local skate park and see if you can do it there. You may also do this exercise on a basketball court or a tennis court. And if you can use an empty parking lot over the weekend, do it.
You need a smooth space where the child is less likely to fall the very first time they get on their scooter. If they take a spill too early in the process, they might get discouraged and conclude that scooting isn’t for them.
Step 3: Check That their Helmet and Pads Fit Well
Wearing good protective pads and a helmet for scooting is one thing, but staying protected is quite another. Give that helmet a little shove from one side to the other and see how much it shifts. Also, push it upward from the chin area and observe how far up it rides.
Try getting a finger under the chinstrap and see how easy or hard it is. If the helmet moves too much sideways or up/down, see if you can tighten it up a bit. And if you can stick your finger under the strap with ease, the helmet is too loose. As for the knee pads, elbow pads, and wristguards, make sure they’re the right size. And that they fit nice and snug.
Step 4: Help Your Child Identify Their Dominant Foot and Learn Basic Scooter Balance
It’s time for the kiddo to step on their scooter. So, hold and firm the scooter upright and have them straddle it. Then, have them put their hands on the handlebars. At this point, both feet are planted on the ground, and the hands are resting on the handlebars. You’re not holding the scooter anymore because your kiddo is taking charge!
Next, tell them to lift their non-dominant/weaker foot and place it on the deck. This foot becomes their riding foot while the foot on the ground now becomes their pushing foot. This feet/hands position naturally teaches the kid basic scooter balance. It’s only after a kid masters basic scooter balance that you should introduce the next step in the learning process: moving the scooter forward.
You don’t know which foot is dominant? To determine which is the stronger foot, ask them to stand on one foot or start hopping. Chances are that the foot they stand on or hop on is your child’s dominant foot. Here’s another way to tell foot dominance: throw a ball to the child and see which foot they’ll hit the ball with. That’s most likely their preferred foot.
Here’s a simple rule to remember: Your kid’s dominant foot should always be the pushing foot while the weaker foot should always stay on the scooter’s deck.
Step 5: It’s Time to Push Off and Move!
Now that Jimmy is confident enough to balance on a stationary kick scooter, it’s time to teach them how to get the scooter rolling forward.
Ask your kiddo to start pushing the scooter forward with their dominant foot. Pushing off is basically walking with one foot on the scooter and the other foot on the ground. Once they start walking in this position, the scooter will start gliding forward. And this is when to ask the kiddo to pick the pushing foot and place it on the deck.
Being able to glide forward for a second or two breeds confidence. And repeating these motions while pushing harder and building greater momentum is how to become a better, faster scooter rider.
Admittedly, this push forward, put the dominant foot on the deck, enjoy the brief ride, and repeat the process might take longer than you expect. You need to be patient until the kid gets the hang of it. Some kids are naturals at outdoor stuff like this, but with others, you just have to wait until they get it.
Remember: it’s all about having fun. If at any point in the learning process you or your child feels frustrated or discouraged, stop the lesson immediately and… go home.
Because if it starts feeling more like pain and less like pleasure, there’s a chance they won’t want to do it any longer. So, pause if you need to and come back to the training tomorrow or another day.
Practice, practice makes perfect they say. If your kid keeps practicing the push off-place foot on the deck-glide-put foot down-push off-glide motion, they’ll soon evolve into a serious scooter rider.
Step 6: Teach Your Kid to Stop on a Scooter
Have you ever dreamed that you were out on the road driving a vehicle at speed and being unable to stop the vehicle no matter what you did? Pretty scary, right? Anyone who can’t stop on scooter shouldn’t be riding it in the first place.
While some kick scooters have their braking mechanism integrated into the handlebars, the vast majority of kick scooters have the rear fender as the braking system. It’s a kind of foot brake that works when the rider applies some pressure by pushing it down. Some scooters come without brakes, though, and I don’t recommend such scooters for beginners.
It might seem as though hand brakes on a scooter are more intuitive than foot brakes, but that’s not how it is. In fact, beginners struggle a lot when it comes to stopping on a scooter using hand brakes. Being able to use hand brakes correctly necessitates some practice and a fair amount of strength.
Using a foot brake to stop a scooter is much easier by comparison. However, since all these stopping motions happen as the scooter continues to glide forward, good balance skills are essential.
To use the rear fender as a foot brake, all the kid needs to do is pick up the pushing foot and place it on the fender. Then, push the fender down until it makes contact with the wheel.
Can Your Kiddo Ride a Two-Wheeled Kick Scooter?
If your kid is younger than 5 years, they may not have the strength, ordination, and motor skills required to handle a two wheeler confidently. For kids between the ages 2 and 5, it’s best to teach them how to ride a scooter on a Micro Kickboard or other 3-wheeled option.
It’s easier to balance a three wheeler than it is to balance a two wheeler. But it gets better. On a three-wheeled kick scooter, a child finds it’s easier to execute the movements needed to glide the scooter forward as well as slow it down or stop.
Teaching a Kid to Scoot: 8 Safety Tips
- Always have your child pad up and helmet up before scooting for protection.
- Stay nearby as the child learns so you can provide assistance whenever they need it.
- Teach them scooting on a paved surface such as basketball court to minimize falls.
- Make sure handlebar height is the same as waist height for comfort and safety.
- The pushing foot (dominant foot) should always stay behind the riding foot (less dominant foot).
- If the child shows any signs of frustration or stress while teaching them, stop the lesson and come back to it some other day. It’s supposed to a fun activity, not torture.
- Don’t allow your child to scoot barefoot! Because the friction between the foot brake/rear fender and the rear wheel generates quite a bit of heat some of which ends up on the child’s pushing foot. Make sure that the child wears decent outdoor shoes with thick enough out soles.
- If the child is too young (under 5 years), don’t teach them on a two-wheeled scooter. Instead, train them on a three-wheeled scooter.
Many adults got their first-ever scooter, hopped on it, and started gliding forward. It’s pretty easy for adults to ride a scooter for the first time. Not so with young children.
Your kid needs you to show them what to do and when to do it while being available at all times to support and encourage them.
Basically, teaching a child to scoot entails showing them how to balance on it, where to place which foot and when, and how to push, glide, push again, and glide again… until they master scooting.
Remember: safety comes first ALWAYS. Insist that they wear a helmet and protective pads before hopping on the scooter.