Last Updated on March 12, 2024

Driving is a significant milestone in many people’s lives. The role of a driving instructor can be pivotal in turning an anxious beginner into a confident driver. It is often more than just helping a learner driver pass a driving test. An instructor can also about laying a foundation for a lifetime of safe driving.

In this article we share ten tips for driving instructors on how to support learner drivers. From creating positive environments, tailoring lessons, and getting pupils test ready.

1. Support Learner Drivers by Building a Positive Relationship

The bond between driving instructor and learner driver can be pivotal. The trust, patience and respect shown to students on their learning to drive journey can significantly influence the learner’s experience and success behind the wheel.

The art of teaching is as much about empathy as it is about road rules and driving manoeuvres. Every learner driver will have their own unique set of expectations and fears.

Listen to your students and understand what their expectations are and how they learn best. This can help you to recognise and adapt lessons to individual learner needs. By focusing on a strong and positive relationship with your learner drivers, you are not just teaching them to drive, but empowering them to become confident, cautious, and considerate drivers.

2. Set Clear Goals and Expectations to Support Learner Drivers

A driving instructor can transform what may be a daunting journey for a new learner driver, into a smooth journey of learning.

By setting clear goals and expectations, instructors can provide learners with an understanding of what they are working towards. This can give the learner a series of manageable and confidence building steps to work towards.

Setting clear goals and expectations is not a one-off task, but a continuous part of the learning process. Goals require attention and adaptation to the learner drivers growing capabilities and changing needs. By setting clear goals and expectations, you can facilitate a more structured lesson where the learner knows what to expect.

3. Encourage Questions

Learning to drive requires not just physical coordination but also critical thinking, problem solving and an understanding of road rules. Questions posed to you by learner drivers are a great indication of their engagement and desire to understand driving more deeply.

Questions can also provide an insight into areas of uncertainty and levels of understanding, which could allow you to further tailor your approach and lesson goals.

By encouraging pupils to ask questions, it gives them a safe space to learn. This can help to build confidence and give your learners a better understanding.

4. Provide Constructive Criticism

Feedback, when delivered constructively can be an indispensable tool in a driving instructors toolkit. Constructive criticism can help to reinforce good driving habits.

It is not just about pointing out errors, but more so about guidance and encouragement.

It is easy to point out what is wrong, but it is not always helpful to the learner to just hear what they are doing wrong. Instead, explain what they have done incorrectly and then explain what they could have done and what to do next time, for example “Your positioning was great on the roundabout; however you need to keep more space between you and other vehicles in case they stop suddenly, which could lead to a crash.”

By focusing on specific, actionable, and balanced feedback, instructors can create a learning environment that addresses both the technical aspects of driving and the overall development of the student as a driver.

5. Stay Calm and Patient When Supporting Learner Drivers

Maintaining a calm and patient demeanour as a driving instructor is essential to helping learner drivers thrive. The instructor’s demeanour can play a critical role in shaping the experience of the learner driver, as well as impacting confidence, anxiety, and overall progress.

A calm and patient driving instructor can act as a stabilising force when supporting learner drivers who may be dealing with nervousness and self-doubt. Creating an atmosphere that is supportive and not pressured can allow learners to absorb and practice new skills at their own pace.

Make sure during lessons you are not getting frustrated when a learner is struggling and that you are paying attention to their cues. If a learner is repeatedly failing at a new manoeuvre and getting frustrated this may knock their confidence. Be sure you react calmly and restructure the lesson if needed.

6. Encourage Practise Outside of Lessons

Private practice can be one of the most effective methods to reinforce the skills learned with a driving instructor. Whilst structured lessons with a professional instructor can provide a solid foundation, additional practice with a supervising driver can offer invaluable real-world experiences.

The DVSA advise that learning to drive takes an estimated 45 hours of driving lessons with a driving instructor, plus 22 hours of extra private practice between driving lessons.

To help learners get that much needed additional experience, Collingwood offer learner driver insurance on a short-term and annual basis.

You could even get a bonus too! Sign up to the Collingwood Instructor referral programme to boost your income.

7. Demonstrate and Explain

The principle of “Demonstrate and Explain” in driving combines visual and practical learning and involves 2 key parts:

Demonstration – The instructor physically shows the student how to complete the manoeuvre, breaking it down step by step.

Explanation – Whilst demonstrating the manoeuvre, the instructor explains the purpose and reason behind each step they take.

This method of instruction is tried and tested in helping to explain complex manoeuvres that may be difficult to grasp through a purely verbal explanation. By incorporating the “demonstrate” element into the teaching process, driving instructors can enhance the learner’s ability to apply the knowledge.

Many people are visual learners, meaning they understand and remember information better when it is presented visually. Demonstrating a driving a manoeuvre can provide a clear visual reference for learners and make complex concepts more comprehensible.

The demonstrate and explain approach places an emphasis on visual learning and active engagement which can be integral to preparing learner drivers for the complexities of real-world driving.

Female instructor supporting a learner driver
Teenage Girl In Car Having Driving Lesson From Female Instructor

8. Prepare For The Driving Test

Preparing for a driving test involves not just mastering technical skills and knowing the road rules, but also managing test day nerves. The anticipation and anxiety leading up to a driving test can impact a learner drivers’ performance. It is essential that you equip your students with strategies and techniques to help deal with test day nerves.

Some ideas for supporting learner drivers preparing for a practical test could include:

Mock tests: Conduct mock tests that are as close to the actual test environment as possible. This can help desensitise learners to the test environment and reduce fear of the unknown.

Familiarisation of Test Routes: While it is not always possible to know the exact test route, practising on roads around the test centre can help learners become comfortable with potential test scenarios.

Test Day Checklist: Provide a checklist of items to bring on driving test day e.g. provisional licence, glasses (if needed) and tips for a good night’s sleep and a nutritious meal before the test.

9. Discuss The Importance of Mental Readiness

Mental readiness can sometimes be an underemphasised, yet crucial, component of supporting learner drivers. This includes the learner’s ability to manage anxiety and maintain focus. By creating a safe space for learners to express their anxieties and fears related to driving, whilst acknowledging these feelings as normal can help reduce stigma and intensity.

Introducing stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing or guided visualisation can help reduce a learner’s stress and anxiety levels, not just during driving lessons but also in everyday life.

Incorporating mental readiness into driving tuition goes beyond teaching driving technicalities; it is about preparing learners for the demands of the road. By addressing anxiety, focus, emotional regulation and other components of mental readiness, instructors can help learners develop a holistic set of driving skills.

10. Celebrate Progress

The learning to drive journey is filled with milestones, from getting through the first driving lesson to mastering complex traffic scenarios.

By recognising and celebrating milestones, instructors can help to build a learner’s confidence and maintain their motivation. Acknowledging achievements can help to reinforce a learner drivers self-belief and determination.

At the end of each lesson, you could recap what you have covered and how the learner did during the driving lesson. This can help pupils to understand how they are progressing and encourage continued learning.

Celebrating progress should not just be about acknowledging current and past achievements, it is about inspiring future success and fostering lifelong safe and confident driving.


Incorporating these tips into your method of teaching learner drivers can not only help in creating a supportive learning environment but also ensure learners feel valued, understood, and prepared for their driving journey. Remember, the goal is not just to teach a learner how to pass a test, but to become a safe, confident, and responsible driver.