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How to Find and Evaluate Quality Courses
Homeschool or home-based courses are abundantly available for driver education. Homeschool organizations' or individual families' course choices should cover driver safety, defensive driving techniques, and state driving laws or regulations, at a minimum. The goal of driver education, in addition to meeting state mandates, is to prepare your child for safer driving. Additionally, driver education courses homeschool parents find can help reduce insurance premiums for teen drivers. Options for homeschool driver education include online classroom instruction, virtual or computer-based driving simulations, as well as textbook or workbook-based home instruction.
Finding courses to meet state requirements should start with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or similar state agency. By familiarizing yourself with the requirements specific to your state, you can better evaluate course options to ensure they will meet your needs. In addition to DMV resources, homeschooling organizations, local high schools, and even State Troopers can be a good source of information regarding driver education courses for homeschoolers. To further help parents of new teen drivers, AAA offers an entire website devoted to teen drivers, including state-specific requirements.
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Examples of Courses Available
Parental instruction is still required for the vast majority of driver education courses. Homeschool students, unlike their public school counterparts, must often combine home-based curriculum for classroom instruction with parental training behind the wheel. No single driver education course, short of traditional driving school, can replace actual driving time in a real world situation. However, the following courses do provide the classroom instruction necessary to complement behind the wheel instruction. Options include computer-based, textbook, and online instruction for classroom education only. For behind the wheel instruction, parents must either teach their child themselves or enroll them in some form of traditional driving school.
Driver Ed in a Box is a textbook-based driver education course that provides instruction on safe driving to better prepare students for behind the wheel experience. The course is parent-taught, which provides added benefits to parents nervous about how to teach proper safety and defensive driving. Parents can teach their child at their own pace, with guidance from the parent handbook. Students must pass quizzes based on workbook assignments. Supplemental CDs are also included. Cost: $347, State Requirements: Meets most requirements for states that do not require traditional driving school instruction.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety helped develop a virtual driving computer program called Driver-ZED. Students participate in driving simulations via a home PC, learning to spot, identify, and assess risks while driving. The program is designed to better prepare students for driving in real situations. Cost: Under $25, State Requirements: Does not currently meet most state requirements for driver education.
National Driver Training Institute provides a specific package for homeschool students. As the only program endorsed by the Home School Legal Defense Association, options include textbook, CD, DVD, or online courses. This is one of the few courses offered in multiple formats that meets the requirements of most state driver education laws. Cost: $74 and up, State Requirements: Meets most state driver education course requirements, including many states such as Georgia, that require traditional driving school instruction under "Joshua's Law" regulations.
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References and Resources
AAA Guide to Teen Driver Safety: http://teendriving.aaa.com
Driver Ed in a Box: http://driveredinabox.com
Driver – ZED: http://www.driverzed.org/home/
National Driver Training Institute: http://www.nationaldrivertraining.com/index.php?page=main4