Driver’s Education with Teens

drivers ed. Des Moines Mom
photo by wellphoto from Getty Images for Canva

Two years ago, our oldest son completed his Driver’s Education class and we are now thinking about our second son getting started as a driver within the next year. To date, this has been one of the hardest things I’ve experienced as a mom! It has also been such a positive change for our family too. Here are some things we have learned along the way.

Finding a Driver’s Education Class

We weren’t sure what class we wanted our son to take. We had heard great things about both Street Smarts and Drive with Cops. We ended up picking Street Smarts because there was a session at our son’s school during the summer weeks we had available. Picking a class at his school was very helpful because it meant he was more comfortable driving with a teacher he already knew and with his classmates in the car. It was helpful for us as parents because he could carpool with friends for Driver’s Ed too.

His drive time was usually in the morning so he could accommodate his summer sports schedule. He did the online content learning at home in the evenings and then did the actual driving at school with the instructor.

Helping at Home

I think it seems unfair to place the entire burden of teaching someone to drive on the Driver’s Education instructor. However, if I had it my way, that’s what would have happened! In addition to Driver’s Ed, we also took him driving with us in empty parking lots and quiet streets.

I found very quickly that my anxiety went through the roof when I was in the passenger seat. It wasn’t that I was afraid of riding with him—he’s actually a very good driver. It was all of the “what ifs” that kept creeping into my mind and making me worry. I ended up having my husband drive with him most of the time in those early months. (I am much more at ease riding with him now that he’s 16!)

We started with him driving in empty parking lots and back roads. Little by little, we added more complicated tasks like parking, backing up, and parallel parking. 

After Driver’s Education

It’s tempting after they pass Driver’s Ed to go back to the parents being the primary driver. However, we continued to let him drive us places and get more comfortable behind the wheel–despite my continued worrying! He was able to get a school permit the fall after Driver’s Ed so we made sure he was at ease on the route to/from school.

This is where our lives changed! He was able to drive his brother to/from school, he could drive himself to early band practices and drive himself home from his after-school activities. Having another good driver in the house is definitely a game-changer! 

My biggest piece of advice is to do everything you can to help your teen feel comfortable behind the wheel by giving them lots of practice. We talk about safety, we have Life 360, and we let him know he’s doing a good job.

Do you have a teen driver? What tips do you have about your Driver’s Education experience?

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Katie Nyberg
I am married to my high school sweetheart, Wes, and we have two energetic boys who are active in hockey, cross country, choirs, bands, and track. Our family loves to explore Des Moines, travel around the country, and do anything sports related together! I own a birth and postpartum doula agency called The Iowa Baby Ladies that supports families in Central Iowa. We love serving mothers in our area as they grow, birth, and mother their babies with confidence!


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