Supporting the learning process
Beyond stumping up for the lessons, what else is there to do? Plenty.
There are a lot of ways you can support your child through their driving lessons. That’s not just a cuddly-nice thing to do - you could also be saving yourself some money by helping them get the most from their learning.
Most important of all, learning the right way and having the right support is what will keep your child safe on the road.
Be prepared to be firm
Commit to private practice
Private practice is any driving that happens outside of the learner’s lessons with a driving instructor. The DVSA recommends 20 hours of private practice and achieving that is a great way to make sure your learner gets to test time fully prepared.
Private practice deserves a whole book to itself, so check out the private practice section. This is an overview of the common myths about private practice, how to get going and what to do once you’re in that car with your slightly scary learner driver.
Don't forget the theory
While getting the physical side of driving down is important, the thing that will be vital for passing the theory and practical tests is road rules and hazard perception.
Chat about the theory knowledge while you're doing private practice and stay involved when it comes to revising for the theory test. It's the first big hurdle and passing with flying colours is a great confidence booster.
Early rule to set: if you’ve been drinking, you’re not driving. That includes a party the night before. If a driving lesson is first thing on a Saturday morning, alcohol on a Friday night is pretty much out for the next year.
Firstly, a hungover student driver is not a good one and the instructor is quite likely to cancel the lesson and keep the money if they suspect the student is incapable of driving safely. Secondly, if a hungover student thinks “That went quite well, LOL”, they are now primed to think they can drink and drive with no consequences.
A still-drunk student driver is breaking the law and risking their instructor’s livelihood - not to mention both their lives. Bring this up early and do as much as you can to keep it the Big Rule, especially if you’re the one writing the cheque.
No matter how many glasses of water they've drunk or the size of the breakfast they've eaten, if they drank alcohol the night before they drive, they could still test over the limit if breathalysed. If that happened they would face losing their licence before they even got it.
Even if they seem fine to drive (and that’s a hard thing to judge), it’s a lesson that’s best learned now. Would you want them making that “I’m sure it’s OK” call for themselves once they’ve passed? Better to cancel a lesson than break the law and put other people in danger.
As well as not drinking the night before a lesson, you should also encourage your child to get enough sleep, eat a decent breakfast and generally be prepared. Falling out of bed and into the car could be dangerous - is anyone really alert 5 minutes after the alarm?
I'm going to say something I've heard anecdotally from driving instructors: if you can gently suggest a shower (“to wake you up darling!”), you’ll be a lot more popular. Got more eager offspring lining up for driving lessons? Keep the driving instructor you trust on-side.