The past few years have been full of young tweens turning into teens around here. The thing that unnerves me more than anything else is the dreaded question, “Mom, when can we go get my learners permit?”
I have two children who are now driving, and another two on the way, with one poised to get his official license and one who is chomping at the bit to get her learner’s. No matter how excited I get by the prospect of their being able to help with errands, I still hate the idea of my child on the road. I mean, just yesterday, someone came at me on a one way street. I tell my kids, “it’s not about you, really, I worry about the other guy being an idiot!” and I mean that.
So how do we best prepare our teens to be good drivers? And, as homeschoolers, what are some of the requirements for obtaining that coveted license?
Well, both of these questions have many possible answers. Individual kids have different needs. For example, I have two children who requested not to learn to drive with Mom. They wanted Dad and an actual driving course. They didn’t want to hear mom scream, apparently. My other two kids have asked me to drive with them to help build up confidence. Just totally different personalities!
As mom, the main things I do to help get my kids ready to be good drivers is to point out bad drivers. I communicate with them while I am driving about different experiences I have. I mention how to spot people who may be under the influence of something, people who are texting, people who are just crummy drivers. I will ask my younger ones, “What is wrong ahead of us?” Invariably, they will catch the texter or someone following way too closely.
I believe this is the best thing I can do for them – to have them notice what is around them and have ideas on how to protect themselves, whether that means falling back on the road or getting around something as quickly as possible. I know people need to learn from their own mistakes, but I want them to be engaged while driving and have some expectations of what can happen.
Now, as far as the legal requirements for driving, most states have their own specific requirements. You will need to look up information specific to your location to make your plans to obtain your child’s license.
Two of my children took driver’s education in school and then used a driving school to fulfill the road hours and test requirements.
That was easy, but of course, there are benefits to teaching your children yourself!
Yes, homeschoolers can legally teach their own children to drive.
For example in my state, I will need to:
• Find out my state’s legal requirements. What curricula does YOUR state accept?
• Complete the accredited Driver’s Education Classroom course
• Fill out some paperwork proving we are homeschoolers and registered with the state as such
• Complete an IN-CAR driver’s course, taught by me/my husband (fulfilling the driving hours)
• Have my son pass the test!
In Virginia, there is a page on how homeschoolers can get their license online at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). I love having this information so readily available. I recommend going to the DMV online for your state and seeing what resources are available and required.
Now, I can also just teach the classroom portion and use a driving school for the in-car lessons. The prices range for this, but a decent program can be found for about $250 in our area. The benefits to me in using this were that it was done within 2 weeks and included testing, so results were sent directly to the court and DMV, so all legal stuff was covered and completed easily.
Another good resource for driving information is the HSLDA website. See the HSLDA Driver’d Ed section. They recommend a few courses and have some data that shows parental involvement is important for young drivers. Most state homeschooling sites also have a page for driver’s information as well.
Do not forget to see what resources your library may have. You can get supplemental DVD’s. Also, find out if you can get a discount of the driver’s education classroom portion. For example, my HEAV (state homeschool association) and HSLDA have coordinated a discount with a couple vendors. I found 40% off on one driver’s ed curriculum that was accepted in Virginia through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. So, poke around and get a discount if you can.
Here are some online resources for your child to check out:
I really like it that the CDC campaign for safe teen driving is titled “Parents are the Key”. Yes, we are! Find lots of driving statistics and safe driving tips on the site.
If you have any tips for a teen about getting their license, please share!