Parent tuition: how to make it work

It’s only natural that you should want to save cash when learning to drive; it’s not difficult to 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 – but that’s no reason for you to avoid their help altogether.

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 instructor. Also, don’t take anything a parent tells you as gospel; it’s your 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 decide you’re going to practice with a parent, here’s how to make sure that time is as spent as effectively as possible: 

  • Use professionals for guidance. Experts help young drivers take adequate control over the vehicle, know the road rules and correct procedures for managing a vehicle in traffic while making safe decisions.
  • Lead by example. The parent’s biggest contribution to the learner driver’s safety and effectiveness behind the wheel will be setting a good example. Parents should read a current copy of the Highway Code and work with you on the theory exam.
  • Read up. Parents should 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 some care in selecting 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. Important until you’ve developed 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; also, shouting instructions isn’t effective where calm communication is better understood.
  • 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.
  • Work with a professional. Get your parents to discover what you’re being taught and what techniques are being used, to avoid clashing.
  • Make learning enjoyable. This is one for your parent; make sure they keep their cool so that you both enjoy the process; you shouldn’t be dreading getting into the car each time you go out.

Also, remember that anyone supervising a learner driver must be at least 21, and must have held a full licence for at least three years.

Check out our article on how to stay legal when supervising a learner driver.