California Association for Safety Education

Interactive Homework Increases G.D.L. Value

By John F. Knippel

Published in the January 2001 CASE Newsletter

The loss of reimbursement for Driver Training caused some Traffic Safety classes to be dropped and others to become weaker. A few educators took the opportunity to make their classroom courses even stronger because they understood that literally anyone could be the car instructor for their classroom students. That meant that the students had to be even better prepared. There was no longer a chance to "catch them up" in the simulator, on the range, or on the road. It must be learned right the first time.

Research has shown repeatedly that the greatest factor influencing the success of a person is genuine, positive parent involvement. How do you do that? When do you do it? The answer is while they (the students) are on a permit and before. You do it with interactive, parent/student homework or practice sessions.

If you teach Right-of-Way rules, have an assignment where they observe Mom and Dad and discuss with Mom and Dad how they (the parents) applied the rules at various corners. When you teach mirror settings, have a sheet for the parents to initial that the student actually sat in the car and adjusted the mirrors to your specifications (which you showed the parents at a parent night). If the student has a permit, design assignments for practicing on-road driving that match the units in the classroom and have the parents sign off on a log sheet. If the students' parents have jobs that are traffic safety-related, have the parents in as guest speakers. It really sells your program to the community. Have lessons that involve your school board members and district superintendent.

Once you start creating these types of lessons, you soon discover that you can create practice sessions of all types for students to use as passengers, on their permit, as a pedestrian, and as a traffic observer at intersections and on freeway overpasses. The results for the student's understanding of the lessons is dramatic. The parents' assessment of the value of Traffic Safety is increased. Everyone wins.

G.D.L. requires that the parents become more involved. This is a great way to reinforce the goal of G.D.L. It is a great way to reduce the parents' anxiety about sitting on the passenger side while their child drives. Much of the visual skill will have already been practiced as well as the thought processes for traffic strategy. Actually, interactive homework will go far beyond the hopes of those who wrote the G.D.L. laws. We are the professional educators. We should be going above and beyond the letter of the law. We are the spirit of the law. Innovate, invigorate and educate.

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