Remember those times when a fire truck visited your school? Policeman perhaps? This month I was invited to visit two Preschools who gave me free reign to tear up their backyard as I saw fit and I thought I would share the recipe that seems to work.
Something I have learned is how easy it is to intimidate the kids, so I don’t actually tear up much grass, and certainly not straight away.
Announcing my visit a week early is obvious for the sake of making sure no one misses out, but also has the double edged benefit of building excitement while giving the young’uns time to prepare themselves so it is less scary. The little ladies can even make sure they “dress nice for the motorbike man visiting tomorrow”, as one mother overhead a girl advising her daughter!
Being blessed with good weather was a bonus, where I can then rock up at the agreed time with my van loaded full of bikes. The kids then find their seats while I get my gearbag and big bike in place before the show really starts.
Breaking the ice without intimidating the kids, I have learned to wheelie my way to them aboard my little CRF110, wearing a helmet of course. The kids get a laugh and a little bit of wow factor, especially when I try doing my wheelie spin, before which I make sure to tell the kids to clap and cheer if it goes wrong.
Now that they are warmed up I point to each important part of both bikes, getting them to tell me what each piece does. There is always the odd story from a kid who tells us about something his cousin did which is fun, but mostly we move quickly through.
From there I do a quick introduction before talking them through each item of safety gear as I put it on, beginning with knee braces over top of my jeans and finishing with my goggles. They also get given a spare example of each piece to pass around for closer inspection. I share some of the reasons and importance of each item, more than just the fact that they look cool.
Time to hop on the big bike, but first I let them know that I will warn them before they will need to cover their ears from it being too loud. The warning reassures them and when the bike is warm enough to rev up, they are ready to guard themselves. The neighbours probably wonder why this bike next door is suddenly on the limiter, but the kids generally love it.
“So, do you want to see a wheelie?” I ask. Then ask it again with hand cupped to ear in order to get a loud response. Then comes the really fun bit that includes speed, skids and jumps, along with both slow and fast wheelies.
At the Whakaarangi preschool they had some awesome obstacles including a sandpit that I could pop into like a trials rider, and a large pile of leaves I could carve a turn off with a big rooster tail flying out the back was waiting for me at Nestlings Preschool.
After that we can use the excitement to do a question and answer time before popping each kid on my bike for a quick photo if they want it. Then they get stickers and magazines, with a signed poster if we have rubber bands to hold them with. Then they are ushered back inside to wait for their chance to try their own skills on the balance bikes, so long as it doesn’t get too crazy. We may need to think more about that part of the event.
Every time I go back to pick my daughter up from preschool now I get a friendly “Hi Peter”, from many different angles. Many of the bags and lunch boxes have my sticker on them and the feedback from parents is priceless. Hopefully we will help inspire some kids to finding the new love of their life. I know it probably would have helped me find mine much earlier than the ancient age of 13!