Piano, violin, clarinet, flute, drums… How do you get kids to practice?
It’s not easy. There’s no magic formula. But it is possible.
All told, my 5 kids are supposed to practice a combined total of 3 hours, 45 minutes per day. Per day! My job is to make sure that happens. This may be the hardest thing I do as a mother. It feels that way, anyhow.
Here are some truths:
-My kids hate to practice just like yours do
-Every single morning at least one kid is whining, complaining, crying, or yelling about practicing
-I often have to resort to yelling, bribing, taking away privileges, etc.
-Screens are lost very often due to not finishing practicing
So there. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows during practice time at my house. It’s real, messy life. It’s hard. Really hard. Why I do this is a topic for another blog post. But here’s how I make it happen.
The most important thing about practicing an instrument is consistency. There are some days my kids don’t get all their practicing done. But I try my hardest to make sure they at least do some practicing every day, even if it’s only ten minutes. Practicing small amounts every day is better than practicing a lot on just one day.
The second most important thing is having a consistent time to practice. I try to have all the practicing done in the morning, before school, because our afternoons are too crazy. I have found that when my kids have an assigned time to practice and it’s a routine, our mornings go more smoothly. When the morning is random and they can practice anytime they want, there is a lot more complaining and fighting. Find a time that works best for your schedule, and try your hardest to stick to it.
The third thing I try to do is encourage practicing in a positive way. I use a lot of charts and incentives. Usually my charts involve practicing for a week and earning a small prize. When my kids ask to go to Wildwood or Chuck E. Cheese, they often have to earn it by a month of good practicing (they will still earn smaller prizes each week of that month, like a pack of gum or a dollar store toy.) There are tons of free charts online, or you can find cooler ones on Etsy. Figure out what motivates your kid and use it to your advantage.
Here are some examples of charts:
Free charts from Kid Pointz
I have made so many charts over the years, I started selling them on Etsy. Here is an example:
I also like these charts on Etsy from TagAlongAdventure that you can personalize.
Here are some more things that motivate my kids. I try to rotate through them to keep life interesting. Some of the prizes are small enough to earn in a week. Some are bigger and deserve a month of practice.
-Dollar Store prize
-pack of gum or small treat
-gumball machine and they get a quarter per day
-screen time (30 min daily or a certain amount on the weekend)
-earn a special toy
-go out for ice cream
-Wildwood Highlands or Chuck E Cheese
-Movie night at home
-Go to the movie theater
Making your kids practice isn’t easy, but it’s worth it! I’d love to hear what motivates your child and how you get your child to practice! Good luck!