Cycling is, at the moment, one of the few things we are allowed to do, writes Kath Cochrane. If you have children, and if your house is anything like mine, getting out for daily exercise is crucial for sanity. I breathe a huge sigh of relief as we leave the house for a walk, a run or a bike ride. Relief that I am not nagging them to get their work done, get off their devices, or leave each other alone.

A bike ride seems to have been a common choice. In the early weeks of lockdown we saw more bikes than cars. It wasn’t just sport cyclists; all sorts of people were taking to the bicycle for their daily exercise. However, venturing out with young children can still seem daunting, so here are a few tips to keep the family safe, and the adults calm.

Make sure you are confident that your child can control their bike. Starting, stopping and steering all require practice, so keep to the local park until they have mastered these. Make sure you can describe parts of the road in a way they can understand. If they don’t know left and right, use ‘kerb’ or ‘verge’ for left, and ‘across the road’ for right. After a couple of hair-raising incidents when my children were young, I instigated a rule that we always stopped on the left side of the road. Then we would cross if needs be.

Ride behind – and just outside – your child so that vehicles are not passing too close to them. If you want to ride really close, you can overlap your front wheel with their back wheel. Much of the skill of riding on the road is knowing what is going on behind you – with this way of riding you can continue to do this, whilst your child is in your view ahead. As you approach a junction give them warning to stop, and when you get there, come up alongside them and talk through the decision you need to make. Under your watchful eye they will start to make decisions themselves.

If something goes wrong – perhaps you feel they should have waited for a larger gap in the traffic – get them to stop on the left and ask them what happened. Did you see the blue car? Did you think you had enough space? Then you can understand whether they were looking, or not.

With physical distancing requirements, you also need to explain about passing pedestrians with lots of space on shared paths and country lanes; the use of their bells and the value of a cheery smile and thanks.

With calm and clear verbal instructions, and lots of support and encouragement, you will be equipping your child with a life skill. Come September, despite your best efforts, they might not remember how to convert decimals into fractions. But they will remember happy family bike rides in the spring sunshine. When you get back to the house, you may all be ready to re-engage in the rigours of home-schooling again: well, for a few minutes at least!