For Parents

On Fire’s Guide for Parents of Learner Drivers


Paying for your child to achieve a driving licence is a handsome, life investment; we know that you want assurance that your money is being well spent!

Most teenagers have a completely different view of, well, everything. And they tend to keep this view private from their parents and other adults. Which makes gauging any achievements difficult, e.g. ‘How did the lesson go?!’ ‘It was alright. What’s for dinner? I’ve got to get Ryan at six.’ Shouting queries up the stairs, with muffled, and increasingly irritated replies, doesn’t give one much to go on …

On Fire provide each pupil with a log, in which we can record their level of competence at the end of each lesson, and agree targets for the next. Which could change, with reflection. We also keep our own record and notes, which we’re happy to discuss with you, either at the end of the lesson, or by telephone/email.

Please bear in mind that your son/daughter would probably view this as ‘nag material’, rather than keeping you informed! As mentioned elsewhere, different people learn at different rates, so your teenager may steam ahead in one aspect, but take longer to acclimatise in another. As older adults, we often take for granted wisdom, and a patience that has to be learned.

Some clients thrive on a measured, even-paced and more controlled teaching. And some take more control themselves, working with us to set goals and analyse their own areas for improvement. Our end goal is always to turn out responsive, competent drivers equipped with skills that will give them a lifetime of continued learning on today’s roads.

Now and Then

Any experienced driver will know that driving on today’s roads has changed a lot since we learned to drive! The roads are busier, the pass standard is higher, and the cars are more powerful and responsive. Which requires us to teach a greater personal responsibility that all these factors imply.

When we took our driving test, we probably had a couple of questions from the Highway code, and were then let loose for half-an-hour, achieving the coveted PASS without too much difficulty. Those days have long-since passed, and now your child will be expected to study hard, and pass a theory test comprising of 50 questions ranged across a number of groups, and a hazard perception video test, before they can even consider booking a practical test!

This all takes commitment and determination; it’s well worth discussing this aspect with your son/daughter, to make sure they are mature enough to understand that driving, although a great freedom, also requires a level of understanding that isn’t all learned behind the wheel. They alone will be responsible for their ‘out-of-car’ study, in order that they not only pass their theory test, but come to a full understanding of all that is involved in modern driving.

We guide and support your child in all aspects as they work toward that all-important goal. Having said that, we do expect them to take responsibility, and use the course notes and online learning aids we provide to help them achieve said goal in a timely manner.

Driving Practice

It is hugely helpful (and economical!) if you can arrange for your son/daughter to gain experience, in perhaps, the family car, or a friend or relation’s car. It can be extremely beneficial to go over what they have learned so far, as it fosters greater confidence as well as competence. We’ll happily brief you on areas that need further practice, and the next agreed lesson targets.

We’ve had some very fast first passes using this system, simply because we don’t need to go over the same ground again.

Towards Test

As our students come closer to practical test standard, we talk less, and are more exacting. More critical. The majority of pupils are perfectly happy with this gradual change – they’ve become more self-reliant and confident under our guidance, and now realise this approach is essential to passing their test. A DSVA Examiner says very little! Our students’ confidence in their own skills means they can take being corrected as a positive.

However, as mentioned above, young people often don’t communicate their anxieties and concerns to adults with ease, and emotions can run high as The End hoves into view; underneath the ‘Yeah, it’s going great, I’m going to pass!’ front, may be a a broad array of, often surprising, factors that will undermine them under pressure. Feelings of not wanting to let people down are common, of costing family/friends more time and money if they get a fail, or simply a lack of confidence in themselves in a test situation, may all be lurking underneath the cheerful or confident exterior.

A few, a very few, aren’t able to take direction in the spirit that it is intended, especially in addressing areas to be improved by an assessment or mock test. A measure of understanding is needed from instructor, parent and/or peer at this point; a supportive attitude can help enormously during such lumps and bumps, avoiding backsliding or overwhelming feelings of ‘I’m rubbish!’.

We obviously prefer to avoid these situations – we have sufficient experience to identify a character trait that might create such a response, and head it off at the pass. But timing and mood can throw up unpredictable behaviour in young folk.

Consider: if such a person, having gained a full licence, out there in the rough and tumble, stalled in the middle of a junction (as even experienced drivers do, occasionally). With other motorists honking their horns and pulling angry faces. Would bursting into tears, and Facebooking their friends about how horrible peeps are, help? Would jumping out of the car, and starting a fight with the angriest looking of the inconvenienced motorists, help?

We would say that such a person would not be a safe driver; they might have all the practical and observational skills, but evidently they are subject to too many other pressures or insecurities, and have yet to learn how to deal responsibly with their own emotional state whilst driving.

This is probably the final, and most difficult skill a young driver must achieve. However, given the support of instructor and parent/peer, a confidence in their ability to control not just the car, but the ebb-and-flow of mind and emotions, can create a driver whose skill benefits everyone who shares the road with them. For life.
The On Fire for Driving Team

Guidelines on How Long it Takes to Get to Test Standard
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