Learning With Family And Friends.
Is taking private practice a good idea and will it help or hinder your progress?
The answer is, it will depend on how you go about it.
My advice would always be to start your learning process with a fully qualified driving instructor. The reason being that professional lessons are very different to learning with mum, dad or a friend for many reasons.
First of all, it will depend on the knowledge of your supervising driver and how well they can communicate what needs to be done. They may be relatively inexperienced, or they may have been driving for many years and have a set of bad habits gained along the way.
Let’s start with those first vital lessons:
The first lesson will involve the instructor driving to a suitable place to begin, this process is absolutely vital to ensure the minimum distractions and being able to concentrate fully on the process of moving off and stopping. The first lesson is as much about gaining confidence as it is about the actual driving skills learnt.
In this example I will explain in some detail, the next lesson and how a professional would explain each individual task that makes up a simple left turn procedure.
With the tuition vehicle stationary, the hand brake on and the student in the driving seat.
Using a professional visual aid lessons presenter, we would talk through the various elements required to complete the task.
- In a moment I am going to ask you to take the next turning on the left.
- The first thing I will like you to do, is check your centre mirror to see if there is anything following behind
- Then I would like you to check your left door mirror, so you are aware of what’s happening to the left and behind us
- The next step would be to apply the left indicator to inform anyone following or in front of us our intentions
- Then take your foot off the gas so the vehicle will start to slow down
- You may need to gently squeeze the brakes should we need to slow down further
- Once you have slowed to around 15 MPH, you will then push the clutch fully down with your left foot and select 3rd Then make sure the clutch comes fully up again.
- Bringing the clutch up fully will help control the vehicle speed and make the turn more controlled
- Gently turn the steering wheel to the left using the pull-push method explained on the last lesson
- Once in the new road, a check ahead to see if the road is clear to proceed
- A check in the centre and right mirror will give you information on anyone that might be following
- Assuming that no one is overtaking, then apply gentle pressure to the gas pedal so we accelerate to make progress
That is the level of instruction that would be used by a professional instructor and as a result, very few mistakes will be made by the student.
It’s unlikely that a parent or friend would explain with that level of detail and that’s why early private practice sessions often end in tears or a major bust up.
When students make mistakes this early in their driving education, it’s the supervising driver at fault, not the student and relates to lack of detail and assuming the pupil knows more than they do.
Once explained, the procedure above would then be practiced “for real” with the vehicle moving, making sure that instructions are given in ample time for the student to both absorb and perform what is required.
There are three phases of the learning process:
- Full talk through
- Q & A to ascertain knowledge & prompted practice
- Independence and taking control
The second phase would again begin with the vehicle parked.
We would now ask very targeted questions to check knowledge and understanding of the procedure.
- In a moment I would like you to take the next turning on the left
- Which mirror would you check first and what would you be looking for?
- Which mirror would you check next and for what reason?
- How would you inform anyone behind or in front what you intend to do?
- How would you slow the vehicle down?
- Which gear would you select?
- Why is it an advantage to bring the clutch up fully?
- What is the first thing to check for in the new road?
- How will you know if anyone is trying to overtake?
These questions would then be asked during the actual practice with vehicle moving.
Following 2-3 attempts at the same left turn and assuming there were no issues, the pupil would be offered the opportunity to attempt the task again without prompting with questions and therefore a chance to achieve independence.
This is the major difference between professional and private practice.
My advice would be to take at least ten hours of tuition with a professional instructor to learn the basics and gain that all-important confidence.
Most reputable driving schools or driving instructors will provide a copy of the lesson sheet so the pupil can take away with them.
Private practice is excellent when conducted correctly!
My advice to maximise learning and reduce the learning period is to practice what has already been covered on a lesson. When the supervising driver has access to the lesson report sheet and then travels to the same area and practices the same task, this can be hugely powerful.
However, letting the student go into situations that have not been covered, can be very counterproductive, it often causes issues and as a result leads to a loss of confidence.
Here at Kelvin White Driving School, we absolutely recommend private practice when conducted in the manner explained above and all of our instructors will make the lesson record sheet available following lessons.
How to choose your driving lessons provider and ensure value for money.