In the 1970s my three kids were taught to use a clutch in the family 1973 Toyota Corolla at about age nine or ten.
When the first grandkids came along we had a 1936 Chevrolet “low Cab” pickup, a restored former farm truck from Paso Robles, CA. All the kids learned between nine and thirteen.
As our oldest granddaughter went with me for a driving lesson in 1994 at age eleven, my wife was concerned the truck could be hurt by such abuse. I assured her most farm trucks have been through much worse than a pre-teen kid would inflict on them.
The first and second grandkids - sisters Jennifer and Jessica, both did well and have since spent years driving manual shift vehicles.
Frances Arlene and brother Larry were next through Papa’s Driving School. Of course, none of this was really about driving, just about how to use a clutch.
The last two grandkids, Megan and Karlie participated in 2009 at ages nine and ten, this time in our 1953 Chevy pickup.
Lizzie, our oldest great-grand learned to use a clutch in our ‘53 pickup in 2019 at age thirteen.
Most of these kids had never been in a non-automatic car and all were proficient in about 15 minutes.
CLUTCH TRAINING IS SIMPLE
- With only you and an eager student in the vehicle explain and demonstrate what the clutch pedal and shift lever do. Show how the clutch pedal moving up begins to engage and finishes engaging within a very short (magic) distance.
Once the clutch pedal is out and the vehicle is moving, put the clutch back in and brake to a stop. This entire exercise might take a minute. Subsequent ones are much quicker.
Let the student do the same exercise. No throttle, no shifting, no steering.
Repeat several times, until it is easy.
Only then introduce shifting.
At about the 15-minute point your student will mention their left leg being sore and a readiness to end the lesson.
Get a picture of the student in the vehicle. They will want to post it on social media and show their non-stick shift friends.