Parent-Taught vs Instructor-Taught Driver's Ed: Which is Best For Your Texas Teen?

In Texas, parents are allowed to teach their teens to drive. For many parents, this can be a hair-raising experience they would rather avoid. Others are happy to take on the challenge. If you’re trying to decide which is best, here’s what you need to know when deciding on parent-taught vs instructor-taught driver's ed.

Parent-Taught Driver Education

Parent-Taught Driver Education (PTDE) allows parents to teach teens between the ages of 14 and 17. They'll go through theory in an online course and provide practical behind-the-wheel instruction.

"Parents should consider if they are qualified to teach their child to drive and if the child would be best served by having their parent teach them to drive," said Stephen Howsley of the Texas Home School Coalition.

What to Consider:

  • "Parent-taught driver education programs must be approved by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR)," said Howsley. Therefore, choose a class that meets state regulations.

  • Parent-taught drivers ed usually costs less than instructor-taught lessons.

  • Are you an anxious person? If you’re going scream “stop” and hit imaginary brakes, teaching your teen to drive may not be for you. Overreacting can startle the learner and cause them to have an accident. 

  • If your teen has an accident, submitting an insurance claim may increase your insurance rate, plus having the car out for repairs is an inconvenience.

How to Teach Your Child to Drive in Texas

If you decide to teach your teen to drive, this is how the PTDE process works in Texas.

  • If your criminal and driving record is clean, you can purchase the Parent-Taught Drivers Education course from the TDLR for $20. If not, contact the Texas Department of Public Safety to find out if you are eligible for the course. Alternatively, you can use an online driving school, like

  • Your teen will first complete 32-hours of theory before they can apply for the learner’s permit. They must be 15 years old to get a permit.

  • When they pass their learner exam, they will receive a Texas Driver Education Certificate of Completion. This certificate must be presented to the DPS when applying for a learner license.

  • Your teen will then complete 44 hours behind-the-wheel instruction, of which 10 hours must be at night. Once completed, they can take the driver's exam.

Instructor-Taught Drivers Ed

Sending your teen to a reputable driving school ensures their instruction is in line with the TDLR's requirements. You'll also avoid the stress that comes with trying to teach them yourself. Even the best parent-teen relationships can take strain during driving lessons. Each child is different. While one child will be easy to teach yourself, another may learn better with a driving school instructor.

Deciding between parent-taught and instructor-taught drivers ed is not always easy.

"Parents should make the choice that best meets the needs of their child," recommended Howsley. He advises parents to discuss it as a family. "Instructor-taught drivers education is a better option for students when the family feels comfortable that it is the right choice. When weighing options, families must decide together what is best for the student, but ultimately that final decision comes down to the parents."

The Benefits of an Online Driver's Ed Course

Taking an online driver’s ed course is the quickest and most convenient way for teens to get the learner’s and driver's licenses. All online courses are approved by the TDLR. Teens can take our Teen Drivers Ed Course or parents can sign up for the Parent-Taught Drivers Ed Course. Our parent-taught course includes checklists and sections to help parents teach lessons more effectively.