Okay, here is how both my father and I drive standard cars. My father got 315,000 miles (yes, really!) out of the first clutch on his Accord.
It’s always nice to your passengers to try to be a smooth, easy driver. But with a standard, don’t ride the clutch on accelleration to be smooth; just get the car going. Usually, just about as soon as the car starts to roll at all, you can release the clutch all the way and the car will still drive smoothly.
Downshifting to come to a stop saves wear on your brake pads, at the expense of your clutch. That is stupid. On my '92 Firebird Formula, brake pads at Pep Boys range from under $20 to a high of $46, and I replace them myself in about 45 minutes, with maybe $30 worth of tools (not including jack and stands). A clutch replacement costs $400 (on an easy car, at a cheap shop), and often a lot more. And most people can’t replace their own clutch.
I also read somewhere that to just throw it in neutral and cruise to a stop isn’t good either, but I don’t know why.
Let’s say you’re driving along in fourth gear at about 45mph, and you want to stop. Let’s also say that your car idles at 700RPM. Leave the car in fourth, release the gas, and use your brakes to stop. When the tachometer goes down to about 800-900 RPM, release clutch; continue to stop. Once you’re stopped, shift to neutral, release clutch. When you see the light on the other side of the intersection turn yellow, shift back into first and get ready to go.
There’s also another cool thing you can do; I forget the name of it.
Let’s say you’re driving at 45mph in fourth gear, and your tachometer shows 1800RPM. You see a hill coming up, so you downshift to third, causing the engine to immediately speed up to, say, 2300 RPM. Everyone with me so far?
Next time, do it this way: Release gas, release clutch, move lever to third. Step on gas to rev engine to 2300 RPM, then smoothly but quickly release clutch. Of course, you’ll never get it absolutely perfect; the idea is to just be close. Now, there will only be like 50-100 RPM of difference for the clutch to have to deal with, rather than the usual 500.
And of course, she shouldn’t be riding the clutch. She my not know that the car has a dead pedal for her left foot; teach her that it is useful and comfortable.
Also, a good standard-shift driver will always be observing traffic patterns ahead: If you see a red light ahead, don’t just fly up to it and stop. Rather, slow down, but not so slow you have to downshift—possibly, the light will turn green again before you reach it, and that’s another shift you’ve just saved.