It sounds a bit like the title of a Judy Blume book, doesn't it? The Rotten, Horrible, No-Good, Summer my Dad taught me how to Drive! But this is no work of fiction. This summer I have become a driver's education instructor, and my daughter Carly is the student. What could possibly go wrong?

In 2021, the Iowa State Legislature expanded the parent-taught driver's education program in Iowa. Prior to that year, the program was reserved for kids that were homeschooled. But now, the program is available for any parent brave enough to get in the car and spend at least 30 hours with their son or daughter teaching them how to drive. The online coursework covers the rules of the road and everything taught in a normal driver's ed class. But the parent and student can tackle the lessons at their own pace. You have to spend at least 40 days enrolled in the course.

via Iowa.driverseducation
via Iowa.driverseducation

Along with the online course work, each child and parent must also complete a checklist of driving tasks and fill out a log online. At the end of the class, those forms are sent of to the Iowa Department of Transportation. If approved, the student is then sent a letter of completion which they may present to get their Iowa driver's license. They will still have to take an in-car driving test before getting their license.

But now the real reason many parents are turning to this form of instruction for driver's ed—the cost. I paid $80 to teach my daughter over the summer. Taking the Street Smarts Drivers Ed program would cost nearly $400.

I have to admit that Carly is already an experienced driver. She has been driving ever since she got her permit and I feel very comfortable with her in the car. I'm looking forward to our time together this summer driving across Eastern Iowa.

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