learning to drive

How to make parent tuition work

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It’s only natural that you should want to save cash when learning to drive, and you could shave hundreds of pounds off the cost of tuition by getting your parents to show you how it’s done. But unless one (or both) of your parents happens to be an approved driving instructor, they’re not going to be the best person to teach you to drive. They can still be a great help if you practice driving with them, so long as you and your parents follow this advice…

How can I make the most of my parents tuition?

The key is to use any time with them as a supplement to – rather than a substitute for – any paid-for instruction you have with a professional driving instructor. Also, don’t take anything a parent tells you as gospel; it’s your driving instructor you need to listen to.

What your parent can offer is an opportunity to get some extra practice behind the wheel – something that you can never have too much of.

If you do practice with a parent, here’s how to make sure that time is spent as effectively as possible:

  • Use professionals for guidance. Ask your parents to talk to your instructor to find out what you are being taught and the techniques you are using. That way you won’t get conflicting advice.
  • Read up. Ask your parents to read a current copy of the Highway Code and work with you on the theory exam.
  • Set the right level. Stay below the level you’ve reached with your instructor.
  • Plan sessions. Decide where to go and what you’re going to do before setting out. Take care to select a suitable area and driving route. A large deserted car park is ideal initially, as you can concentrate fully on the feel of the controls and response of the car.
  • Find quiet roads. This is important until you’ve developed skill and confidence, especially around traffic. Your parent should provide good feedback when you’re practising your manoeuvres.
  • Avoid carrying passengers. They’re just a distraction you could do without.
  • Stay alert. You’re not ready for all the challenges of the road so your parent must be fully aware of the various hazards at all times; they must be constantly anticipating the moves of others.
  • Don’t get excited. This can cause you and your parent to panic. Calm communication is much better than shouting.
  • Discuss mistakes. Your parent should be sparing with their comments, but problems must be identified while still fresh in the memory. Confidence needs to be built first.
  • Make learning enjoyable. You should both try hard to keep your cool so that learner and parent can enjoy the process. Neither of you should dread getting into the car.

The qualified driver you practise with doesn’t have to be a parent. Just remember that anyone supervising a learner driver must be at least 21, and must have held a full driving licence for at least three years.