How to Help Your Teen Prepare to Take Their Driver’s Test


When your teen is stressing out about taking the driver’s test, there are a few things you can do to help the process go more smoothly.

Because that’s what parenting is all about, right? We try to do what we can to help our children help themselves.

The first driver’s license is an incredibly big deal. And this is one of many milestones in your child’s journey into adulthood. You want to do what you can to help make this process go smoothly, so your teen can move forward to other milestones with confidence.

From paying for driving lessons to getting in the passenger seat yourself, there are a lot of things you can do to help prepare your child to get behind the wheel. But even before you get to that point, there’s work to be done.

In this post, we’re going to cover the details of preparing for each part of the test, so you and your teen will be as prepared as possible.

Prepping for the Test

Every state differs slightly in how the process operates, but there are always a series of tests, including vision tests, written tests, and driving tests.

As a parent, staying involved in the process will not only help your child pass, but it’ll give you some peace of mind that they’re learning good driving habits.

Before you even head to any of the driving tests, be sure you have all the documentation your child will need to get his or her license. If you have to order anything, it could take some time.

The laws vary by state, but you can bet you’ll need a birth certificate, proof of residency, and a social security number. If your teen doesn’t have a birth certificate on hand, you can order a copy of their birth certificate online. Allow about two weeks for verification and shipping.

Vision test

The vision test will be conducted at the Department of Motor Vehicles or another similar agency.

This test is quick and painless, and they’re really just testing to evaluate whether your child can see well enough to drive. But if your kid has always had good vision, it might have been a while since he or she took a vision test. And we all know that we don’t know our eyesight is bad until we get tested.

If your teen hasn’t taken a vision test recently, you may want to do a practice run at home.

If you know there’s a problem, you can take your child for corrective lenses before the test. This will save quite a bit of time because if your teen fails the eye test, it means you’re going to have to go back and stand on those lines again. This is a simple way to save yourself a lot of time and frustration.

For your home test, print out an eye test and tack it on the wall. Ask your teen to sit or stand (eye-level to the chart) 10-feet away and read the letters with one eye covered, and then switch. Write down the number of the smallest line your child accurately read.

Written Test

Get a copy of the driver’s handbook for your state and give it to your child to study.

You can help with the studying process if you’d like. And, to be honest, you’ll probably learn a lot too! There are rules of the road that are ingrained in our memories, but many of those smaller and more detailed rules are lost soon after you get a passing grade.

You’re probably already a pro at helping your kids with their homework, and the written portion of the driver’s license test is really no different. It’s designed to mimic the tests your teen is already taking in school, so there won’t be any surprises.

The only twist is that there may be two written tests, depending on your state’s laws. Your teen will take the first test when he or she applies for the learner’s permit. And the second test is right before they’re awarded their restricted license.

Try to help your child set the right expectations for this written test. So many students go in thinking it’s going to be a walk in the park — and then they fail. They’ll have a second chance, but that failure can be very disheartening. Make sure your child knows to take this test seriously. After all, it is the first step in learning how to become a safe driver.

At this time, it’s a good idea to find out whether your child needs to take a driver’s education class. It’s mandatory in some states and elective in others.

Driving Test

Most states require new drivers under 21 to take a driving test, and for good reason. Your teen will need to prove they can control a vehicle, drive safely, and obey traffic laws.

There are a few ways you can help your teen prepare for the driving portion of the licensing exam. You’ll find some great tips in this post, and I’m going to share some highlights for you here:

  • Lead by example — Children learn very well by watching what their parents do. And yes, that even applies in the teenage years. Show your teen what safe driving looks like by avoiding distracted driving and keeping your eyes on the road. And if you’ve had more than a drink, now isn’t the time to get behind the wheel. If you want your kids to stay safe and avoiding drinking and driving, they must see you doing it too.
  • Consider professional instruction — Not everyone is cut out to be a driving instructor. But as parents, we think this is something we have to power through anyway. If you’re stressed out while you’re trying to teach your child how to drive, there’s a good chance your teen will become a nervous driver, and while it’s better than reckless, it’s not the safest type of driver. If you find that you’re struggling to keep your cool while teaching your teen to drive, there’s no shame in outsourcing the job.
  • Practice in all road conditions — Most parents cover all the basics, like parallel parking and three-point turns, but some forget that you’re preparing your child for more than just a test. After he or she passes, your child will be out on the roads alone. You want them to be prepared for everything. Driving is different in slick conditions or snow, and you’re going to want your teen to know exactly what to do if the car starts skidding. This means driving in rain, snow, sleet, and hail. Okay, maybe not hail so much. But you want to cover all the bases to give your teen the confidence he or she needs to handle driving in all conditions.

Above all, one of the best things you can give your child during this time is reassurance. Getting your first driver’s license is a big deal, and your teen is probably stressing out about it (whether they show it or not). Let your child know that you’re there for them throughout the process and help them be as prepared as possible for the big day.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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