Turning 16 is a huge milestone for teenagers; does anyone remember the show My Super Sweet 16? Me neither. But I do remember how excited I was to finally get my G1 driver’s license and get behind the wheel for the first time. I also recall how terrified I was when I finally got the chance to do it. Thankfully, I had a driving instructor who was patient with me and took things one step at a time.
If you’re hoping to teach your teen to drive, prepare for a slow but steady process! We highly encourage you to enroll them in a ministry-approved driving school so they can learn from a professional instructor (and practice with you in between their lessons). Regardless, you should apply the following steps when teaching or practicing with your teen learner.
Step 1: Prepare the vehicle
New drivers already have enough stress on their shoulders when they get on the road – they shouldn’t have to worry about faulty brakes, deflated tires, or flashing engine lights. Try your best to create the most comfortable driving environment for your teen. This also means cleaning the car up – a tidy space makes for a tidy mind!
You may also want to consider placing a “student driver” sign or sticker on the back windshield. This may prevent drivers from honking or cutting off your teen if they’re driving slowly on a busy road. Another worthwhile investment is a phone holder. It’s important to instill good habits in your teen learner early on – ask them to place their phone in the holder every time they get in the car. Eventually, it’ll become automatic!
Finally, ensure that you’re the only passenger in the car, at least during the first few lessons. Having multiple passengers not only increases the pressure on your teen learner, but it can also cause confusion if guidance is coming from many voices at once (which is often the case!). If you have teens that are learning to drive at the same time, we recommend teaching them individually. Sibling competition is great, but it might be too risky behind the wheel.
Step 2: Start slow
The first lesson should always be in an empty lot. Before allowing your teen to start the vehicle, take them through the inner mechanisms and controls. They should know how to control windshield wipers, high beams, and indicators; work the radio and connect their device, and control the gear shifters and pedals.
Get them to start the vehicle and accelerate slowly in the lot, trying to follow a straight path. Practice simple turns and parking maneuvers. That’s lesson one! It’s also very important to call it a day at the right time – your teen learner may express this on their own or you may need to use your best judgment. Doing too much at once is stressful and bad for retention.
After your teen learner has conquered the parking lot, slowly progress to quiet streets, busy roads, and eventually, highways (once they have their G2 license).
Step 3: Reinforce
Ideally, your teen is taking lessons with a certified driving instructor that is teaching them from the ground up. If this is the case, your role should be to reinforce what your teen is learning by practicing with them in between lessons. You could even request a copy of the instructor’s in-car sheet to identify specific areas for improvement. Here’s a cool learning tactic – ask your teen to teach you what they learned with their instructor! Learning by teaching improves student efficacy, confidence, and communication skills.
If you decide not to enroll your teen in a driving school and prefer to teach them by yourself, be sure to create a lesson plan that tracks their progress. Remember, you’ll need to cover simple and complex maneuvers to ensure they’re ready for their road test, but more importantly, the road.
Step 4: Let them out of the nest
It’s time! Once they obtain their G2 license, they are legally allowed to drive on their own. It’s important for them to get this independent practice and become familiar with their most common routes. As long as steps 1-3 were followed, you should be confident that you instilled good driving habits in your teen.
It might be worthwhile to speak with your teen about peer pressure before they drive on their own. They’ll often be accompanied by their friends, which can create a competitive and adrenaline-fueled environment – not conducive to great driving!
Driving school exists for a reason. We’re here to ensure that your teen is learning in the safest environment possible with an instructor that is passionate about teaching. Our instructors are trained in defensive driving techniques that could save lives in risky situations. All of our instructor vehicles are properly insured, equipped with a dual brake, and have passed ministry-approved safety inspections. It’s better to invest in good education early on to create safe drivers for life.
Your teen may also be eligible for a 10-20% discount on their auto insurance (and 4 months off of their G2 wait time) by going through the Beginner Driver’s Education course! You can learn more about this course on our website.
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