It’s common for at least one parent to take you out on the road. But that might not be such a smooth journey.
Private practice is great as it helps you practice what you have learnt during your driving lessons, although for many it’s where one’s learning to drive journey actually starts, even before an instructor has been lined up. Whilst your parents may be competent drivers with years of experience under their belt, driving and teaching to drive are two very different skills. We’ve got some handy hints on how maximise the benefit of this time, whilst reducing the chances of any new grey hairs for your parents too!
Use time with them as a supplement to paid-for time with a professional instructor, reinforcing the lessons you’ve been learning. Don’t take anything a parent tells you as gospel – it’s your instructor whom you must listen to. If you do practice with a parent, here’s how to ensure you spend that time effectively…
- Parents should read a current copy of The Highway Code and work with you on the theory exam.
- Plan before you set out. Choose a suitable area and route and know what you want to achieve before you get behind the wheel.
- Use quiet roads until you’re confident, especially in traffic.
- Stay below the level you’ve reached with your driving instructor.
- Avoid carrying passengers – they’re a distraction you don’t need.
- Work with a professional instructor who tells your parents what you’re being taught and what techniques are being used. Then you won’t get conflicting advice.
- You’re not ready for all the challenges of the road, so your parent must be aware of all hazards at all times. They must be constantly anticipating the moves of others.
- 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.
- Keep calm – parents shouting isn’t effective, and don’t get angry if given constructive criticism.
- Make learning enjoyable. Your parent must keep their cool so you both enjoy the process. You shouldn’t dread getting into the car.
- We’ve produced a free Parent’s Guide to Learning, it’s got tonnes of top tips for them as we appreciate it’s not that easy teaching anyone to drive, least of all a son or daughter. It’s most likely quite a while since they took their test, and they may have picked up some bad habits in the meantime. Feel free to send this link on to them so they can pick up some handy hints. Feel free to send this link on to them.
Some tips for your parent or guardian to follow.
Lead by example
It won’t be easy to persuade a new driver to stick to the limit or leave their phone alone if you tend to speed or sometimes check a text at the lights. Set the best example you can by driving by the book.
Play for the team
Work with your child’s instructor to understand how you can best support professional lessons, most will be able to advise and offer support on how you can do this. Decide how soon to start practice drives, and make sure you stay below the level your learner has reached with the instructor.
Practice lessons aren’t easy for anyone. Nobody likes being criticised, least of all by a parent. Equally, it’s understandable if you are nervous about pranging the family car. That’s one of the reasons why it’s good to keep practice well below the difficulty reached in professional lessons. You both need to be patient and build up slowly to more complex driving. That way you will both become more confident.
It’s important to point out mistakes, but make sure you give praise too. You need to build your child’s self-belief as well as correcting faults.
Anxiety is catching. If you seem nervous, your child may develop these symptoms too. And don’t become angry – a shouting match at the traffic lights won’t help anyone. Think back to when you were learning and be the calm and supportive parent you would want if you were the one with the L-plates.