5 Driving Lesson Tips From Champion Michele Bumgarner
Driving is a necessary skill which we had mom Michele Bumgarner tell us how she learned how to drive so we can learn how to teach our kids.
While homeschool covers the academics during the pandemic, we need to teach our kids life skills like driving too. Especially for the older kids, they need to learn how to drive so they can get around. So, we decided to ask auto-racing champion and BTS mom Michele Bumgarner to share how she learned how to drive and what insights she can share with us on how to teach our kids how to drive.
1. Make driving a family activity
“So in a way, it [driving] was a family thing because we would travel with him for races,” says Michelle. “But on most weekends we would be at the go-kart track and my dad would leave my brother and me to drive all around day and night.”
While Michele’s love for driving came from seeing her dad and brother race in the go-kart track in Subic, we can inspire that kind of love for driving through simulators. We start them out with pedal cars, bikes, or even racing simulators to let them get accustomed. We can bike with them, sit in the car with them, go on a bit of a joyride together — those are the moments that will help your kids remember how fun it is to drive.
2. Karts are the perfect beginner’s car
Some of us who have cars have something we call the “beat-up car”. It’s easy and cheap to repair in case your kid turns the car into an accordion or wraps it around a post. But spending and scheduling repairs during the pandemic can be so annoying which is why it’s better if kids learn via a kart — a small car with the basic functions.
“I think the best way for kids to learn how to drive is definitely in a go-kart so they can practice being in control of a moving machine and be able to control speed but also doing all of this while having fun at the same time,” laughs Michele. “It’s how I got into driving in the first place!”
3. Start them young!
Kids love exploring things and the more they do, they get less reckless because they learn. Driving, for the racecar driving mom, has the same concept; if they start young, they’ll be able to take on more new information and eventually ace their driving test without problems. “I think the younger the better, maybe 7-8 years old would be the perfect age to start because kids are more open to new information to learning new things and also are not so afraid to try new things and hopefully more practice, they can ace their driving test on the first go,” says Michele.
4. Find a space for kids to drive with no people in it
City driving can be very stressful especially with the motorcycles cutting cars left and right, trucks insisting they can squeeze in a small space, and many other drivers who don’t know where their tires go. It’s a lot of stimulation and processing which can be really overwhelming for first-time drivers. While some of us learn by driving around in the subdivision, Michele recommends the kart track for newbies. “I think the best place to learn is at a go-kart track where you can rent go-karts,” she says. “It’s really where you learn the basics and it’s a place where you can go fast but in a safe way.”
5. Find driving games you can teach them with!
Especially during the pandemic and ECQ Season 3, a lot of your kids (unless they’re 18 and above) can’t go out! Even then, they’ll need a quarantine pass to go around. And to teach driving to kids, Michele has one piece of advice, “Maybe a little Mario Kart wouldn’t hurt.”
Driving games are a perfect way to have them start driving especially during this pandemic. Mario Kart works. Grand Theft Auto may be for older kids who know right from wrong. Formula 1 has its own series as well and even Gran Turismo if they want real cars.
If you still have the very first Playstation up and working or if you can download a Playstation Emulator, you can have them play Crash Team Racing (CTR) too! And since it’s a multiplayer game, it’s also a good way to bond with your kids and foster a competitive streak in them.
Teaching kids how to drive teaches them discipline and focus
While driving is fun, we also need to make sure kids understand that driving needs focus and discipline. “I would say the most important thing I’ve learned from being a racer is being disciplined and to focus I guess,” says Michele. “I really do believe in the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ because yes, I had great results in my career but it took a lot of sacrifice and discipline and I do believe that with all that, I was able to become the person I am today.”
That’s why driving often takes time to learn. And in the middle of ECQ and homeschool, it’d be a nice change of pace to get their blood running with the thrill of the race. Especially for your older kids who are nervous about their driving exam, teaching them how to drive and going through it with them will really make the difference.