You may think that being an established driver is essential by the time you have kids and that once your children are old enough to learn it will stand you in good stead to pass on your wordly knowledge. After all, if you’re experienced and in a good position to help them get through the learning process such as giving them driving sessions in the family car between their lessons.
While this is all true, there can actually be significant advantages if you’re not a licence holder but are in fact learning to drive when they’re old enough to realise what you’re doing but not old enough yet to take their own test.
Some parents who learnt to drive a long while before their children came along didn’t take the same sort of test as their children will. For example, there wasn’t the driving theory test and hazard perception test.
If you’re learning to drive, your children will get a taster of what the current driving theory test consists of. They may even practice with you if you visit sites like this one that provide mock tests just like the one you’ll face. Your children will be tech savvy enough to be able to help you find and utilise such sites.
Helping you pass
If you involve your children in helping you pass – such as testing you on your highway code knowledge and watching as you take a mock test online – then not only will they see at first hand what is involved in passing, but the knowledge will also be taken on board by them. These lessons are not only important for later in life but also as pedestrians, helping them to understand the rules of the road.
Young children are very adept at learning by watching and doing – catch them while they can pick things up at their quickest.
Learning good habits
Similarly, by watching you learn and being in the car once you’re newly passed, your children will observe and learn how to drive and operate the car the ‘textbook’ way. For parents who passed many years previously, it’s fair to say one or two bad habits have likely crept into their driving.
Unfortunately, children may pick up on these and while their driving instructor will drum correct habits into them, they’ll learn the best ways faster if their parents are driving properly. The older the children are the better really, since teens will soon be ready to follow in your footsteps.
The effort required
Like learning any new skill, learning to drive takes time and effort. If your child sees you putting the time in, making the effort and making progress through hard work and perseverance they’ll be prepared for the same when it’s their turn to learn. You can also set a good example for them. Try, for example, studying for the theory test while they do their home work.
When children are used to seeing their parents and possibly those of their friends seemingly able to drive with practice ease, they can think it’s an easy thing to do and might be complacent. As a result, it can come as a shock when they start learning – elementary tasks like clutch control can seem like a mountain to climb and they may think they ‘can’t do it.’
If, however, they’ve seen you initially struggling a bit and persevering with learning to drive then they’ll be better equipped to realise they can do it once they’ve put the effort and application in and treat it as seriously as it requires to be.
Whether it’s in enlisting their help, sewing the seeds of good practice in their minds or setting a good example – learning to drive when you’ve got children can actually be good for you and them.
Disclosure: In collaboration with Sophie Davidson.