ALL three of the kids still at home are working on their driver's licenses. Ashley, almost 21 now, was struggling with neurological issues for years so we were all nervous for her to be behind a wheel. However, we have since finally narrowed down the problem to temporal migraines and have implemented a sustainable maintenance plan so she will be safe to drive. Brenden, soon to be 19, had no interest in learning until the past year! Brooke, now 16, however, was determined to get that ticket to independence as soon as possible!! A Teen Talk pop-out on this subject is at the end of this section.
Never a dull moment.
All of this has delayed garnering bids for the roof leak into the walls. Hoping to have a solid direction on those repairs in the next few weeks.
A little side-note on teens and that sticky topic of DRIVING! At times people are surprised I do not enroll my kids in Driver's Ed. For the most part, it is a financial decision: the programs are not cheep! As I have gotten older, there have been times where I wished I could hand them off to someone else with better experience and coping abilities... however, I reasoned that if I can homeschool, surely I can teach my kids to drive.
With my oldest, it seemed easy. Either, he was just a natural, or, I was younger and more at-ease with the process... not sure which! With my subsequent kiddos and the age gap between them and their older brother, much more time had passed... and we weren't living in rural Montana anymore where the biggest worry was a wandering deer. No, we were now in a 'major' city with the highest rate of accidents in the state. I began to wonder if blood pressure meds were in my near future!!
"Teach Your Teenager How to Drive a Car" by Hank Wysocki who was a Driver's Ed instructor in NEW YORK of all places!! I ordered his book along with these magnets and peace of mind began to find it's way back.
The book helped remind me of the order-of-operation in learning to drive. It is easy for us parents to take for granted that which seems natural at our own stage of life. It is a process and Hank does a great job of laying out a doable plan of attack with simple-to-follow advice in an easy-to-read format.
The magnets, once on the car, made a HUGE difference. It takes a while to learn how to hold your speed, stay appropriately between the lines, negotiate turns properly, take care not to break too fast or too slow, execute lane changes and pop turn signals on in a reasonable time... The magnets seemed to alert other drivers that my kids were still figuring these key concepts out and, as a result, I notice the drivers around us become more patient and even gave the kids room (verses riding their tail when they went too slow or honking when trying to turn... yes, these things really happened to us).
All of this worked together for a secondary benefit: Remembering the order of operations, giving grace and driving with bright yellow magnets alerting the world as to our pilot... I had more confidence that drivers around us weren't going to be impatient and foolish, potentially causing an accident through unraveling my new learners. My stress levels went down and my ability to be a better driver's ed teacher, increased.
Ultimately, I decided to use the removal of the magnets as a reward for consistent improvement and confidence. While the kids enjoyed the same benefits I did with them on in the early stages of driving, as they improved they were excited to take them off and feel like "real" drivers!
Tips and Tricks I've Picked up Along the Way....
- How is MY driving? I've noticed that my kids brake, accelerate, and follow in the same manner I do. Much like how our attitude as parents impacts their attitude... so does our driving impact theirs!! (bonus tip.... if your kids aren't driving yet, begin adjusting your own driving now, if it needs it, so that you are modeling how you want them to drive when the time comes)
- DON'T DRIVE AT NIGHT until they are very comfortable driving in the day. The road may be well lit, however, other driver's headlights, dark driveways and lit signs actually provide MORE distractions for new drivers.
- Practice in an empty parking lot.... a lot... before you go on the open road.
- Hit the open road at lower traffic times of day for those first handful of drives
- Muster every ounce of patience you can. An irritable or yelling parent does NOT build driver confidence and, quite frankly, causes them to make poorer decisions, not better ones. I have learned to literally sit on my hands when they drive and it seems to help me keep from wanting to grab the wheel or freak out! Remember, IF there is a fender bender, that is what insurance is for. Quite honestly though, I have yet to have a kid even come close to wrecking.
- If your kids play video games, especially the racing variety, don't let them play for at least an hour before they are going to drive. I have noticed that video gaming, particularly racing, directly and negatively affects HOW they drive behind an actual wheel.
- Keep inside-the-car distractions at a minimum... turn down the radio and discourage talking unless it has to do with driving.... even among other passengers.
- Pacing has been a GREAT way to teach my kids maintaining speed and proper braking. Have them follow about 2-3 car lengths behind the person in front, match their speed and break when they break. If the other person is turning where you are turning, have them follow through the turn as well (when possible). My youngest was following a mailman through a stretch of round-abouts recently (every new driver's worst nightmare) and it actually helped her gain confidence in these normally nerve-wracking traffic circles. My 18 year old also found his bearings about driving one day when following a semi-truck down a busy stretch of road. Pacing with this practical wall helped him focus and find his rhythm. He hasn't had a single problem with maintaining speed or staying in-between the lines since!!
How has your school week been?
P.S. I DO keep my Instagram updated if you want to see our latest escapades, especially when there are post delays! Follow the link in-text.
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