Friday, May 30, 2008

Getting an Education in Driver's Ed

It’s been a while (eight years, to be exact) since we signed up one of our kids for Driver’s Ed. I’d forgotten what it’s like. Your offspring's first few times behind the wheel can test your nerves and rev up your prayer life, that’s for sure.

Dd17 is doing fine, though, and it’s interesting to get her take on the classroom portion of the instruction. We’re using a private driving school because Driver’s Ed is not offered in the public schools here as it was where we used to live. As a result, the class is not run by the school district yet is full of kids from the public schools. If there’s another homeschooler in her class, dd is not aware of it.

Each time she comes home from class, she thanks me for homeschooling her. I remember my son doing the same thing when he took Driver’s Ed at the local high school. He used to come out to the car where I was waiting and say, “I feel dumber.” This might have been because the teacher (a coach) breezed through the material and then showed the kids movies (popular movies, not driving instruction movies.) This went on for an entire semester.

Dd is surprised by the amount of wasted time in class. She’s used to working efficiently, and the classroom is not at all efficiently run. Sometimes the class doesn’t start until 15 minutes after it is supposed to start. The teacher sits up front and says, “Let’s wait in case there are latecomers.” There might be one or none. Nevertheless, she does this each class. Considering the classes are only two hours long, that’s a good-sized chunk of time lost at the beginning of the class. And yet sometimes, the kids are released early.

This is not a good thing, because the classes are held at night. Dd can call us to pick her up early, but it’s 15 minutes away, so she is left waiting there in the dark with a few other kids. As a result, her dad has taken to waiting in the car with a book. This means he’s right there whenever the teacher lets the kids out, and it also saves gas (one round trip instead of two). But it also means he loses 2 ½ hours to Driver’s Ed. Starting this weekend, the classes will run ten nights in a row. Losing that much time is going to get old. We’ll have to take turns bringing her to class.

So it’s not very convenient for us, but it’s important for her, and not just in order to get her driver’s license. I can see with her, as I did with her two older siblings, that having a classroom experience for the first time (excluding Sunday School) is a real eye-opener. If you want your child to appreciate homeschooling, sign them up for the classroom portion of Driver’s Ed!


Susan said...

Oh, Barbara, you are making me SO thankful for Mr Fischer! He teaches in Milton, Janesville, and Elkhorn.

My kids, like yours, saw in drivers ed how the public-school kids behave in a classroom setting. And like your kids, my kids appreciated the homeschooling more then.

But Mr Fischer doesn't put up with guff. He starts on time. He has high standards. He knows how to inject humor into the classroom, but never let it detract from the main purpose of why they're there, and he never lets the occasional jokes cause the class to run amok.

I too have been having to sit there and wait. We're driving an hour each way to drivers ed, and it's a two-hour class. It met 3x weekly for five weeks. But even with high gas prices, even with class taking 4.5 hours per evening, this instructor is so so good that it's worth it. I was beginning to think I'd made a poor decision about not enrolling Andrew in the local drivers ed. But your post reminded me of what I've heard from almost every other homeschool mom about the drivers-ed experience. We were so blessed to have the teacher for our kids that we had!

BarbaraLee said...

This is a scary though. Those are the same kids that get behind a wheel of a #weight machine. Can you image if the act like that in the classroom how they will act behind the wheel. We have our kids wait until they are 17. Insurance is costly as much as gas. I might have to make the exception for dd. She wants to take voc. tech class when she's 16. To much driving back and forth.

I know my kids act silly once in awhile but not to the point of distrubing the others. DD was in a bible study this year and she was always commenting about the girls who were talking all the time. Go figure.

Barbara Frank said...

Susan, I'm glad you've found a good teacher! I completely understand about spending time and money for someone who knows what they're doing. I drove an hour each way to my kids' pediatrician for years because he was just so good.

Barbaralee, our eldest didn't get her license until 17, nor will this dd. Our son got his at 16 because I was tired of driving him to work all the time, dragging along the little ones, etc. I think the older they are, the better they handle it, though.

Brumbemom said...

Hey Barb, After reading your comment on my blog,I wanted to respond. I posted this on my comments, but I wasn't sure you would get back over there and read it so I am posting it here too.
Barb, Bless you for saying those nice things, but I think I may have given you the wrong impression. When I said that "we have a certain reputation when it comes to parties" I was pretty much trying to be funny. I guess I shouldn't write things like that knowing that people that don't really know us might read it and wonder what I mean. We only throw parties for kids to begin with and usually there is a lot of, how should I say it, really gross games. My husband says it isn't a party until someone throws up ;-)
That is what I meant by that statement. I hope I didn't in any way imply that we threw wild parties of any other kind. Thank you for your kind words, and I just wanted to make sure it was clear to you what I meant by that.
Thanks for your support on my blog!

Brumbemom said...

Barb, Now that I got that other stuff out of the way, I wanted to comment on your post. The thought of my oldest DD, 17, driving alone scares me to death. She hasn't really wanted to pursue getting her Driver's license yet(she has her learner's permit) and I am thankful for that. I think she needs to mature a lot before I would want her on the roads by herself. I wish the age limit was 18 myself. It seems like everyday we hear about teens being killed in accidents. I think Driver's Ed would be a good idea. It is not required her unless you are under 17.
Talk to you later :-)

Melissa Markham said...

LOL...I wonder if they would take an eight year old:) Jack is very happy homeschooling. Katrina has a bit of the grass is greener on the other side syndrome. She wants to see more people more regularly....driving me crazy!

Janet said...

That's horrible! I remember my driver's ed class being the same. Just stupid. Is there "home school driver's ed?" LOL!

Barbara Frank said...

Brumbemom, my dd has not been in the hurry to get her license that her older siblings were in, and I'm grateful. We've been fortunate that they've been safe drivers. Glad your dd isn't in a hurry.

Melissa, that's because she's a girl. They're always afraid they're missing out socially. My girls were the same way, but over time, they learned that you can have fun with friends and yet still enjoy your solitude.

Janet, there may be "home school driver's ed" in some places, but not in our old state nor our new one :(

Rebecca said...

Barbara -- I'm really enjoying your blog! We don't have drivers' ed here, but I do remember the class when I was in highschool. Ack. Actually, the only real reason I would want my kids to take the class would be to save $$ on insurance. But, there's no insurance here either! ;^)

The only requirement for driving where we live is that you must be able to see out the windshield while pressing the gas. Scarey. Needless to say our personal requirements are a little more stringent! Dd is studying the handbook for our state of residence so that when we get back on our next furlough she can take the test and get her license. By then she'll be almost 17 and will have about two years' experience under her belt. Ds (age 13), on the other hand, isn't even allowed to get IN the car without supervision. He tends to operate on "auto-pilot" a lot and behind the wheel is not a place to be when your brain is disengaged! :^)

As far as a night class for your daughter, I think it's worth the time sacrifice for you or your hubby to be there for her. I don't tend to be paranoid, but having young girls waiting for rides night after night in the same place seems like just a really bad idea. It's only a few weeks. In the larger scheme of things, it's a very small sacrifice.

I guess your daughter is getting a chance to "shine like stars"!!! ;^)


Barbara Frank said...

Don't worry, Rebecca. We ended up taking turns sitting outside in the car waiting for her, and we both agreed it was nice to have some quiet time alone for catching on reading....and one time, napping :)