It's the beginning of another school year.  Some new activities will be met with smiles and enthusiasm while others: tears and tantrums.  In the real world, enrichment is complimentary to primary skills. It's a way to put your primary skills to good use.  To create a better solution.  To see a challenge completed before you face it.  And when it comes to big milestones like college, the well-rounded student is bound to receive more grants and scholarships.  But try explaining that to an 8 year old.

If you have enrolled your child in something truly beneficial but seeming bad to your youngster, here are a few tips to help instill self-motivation and practice.

  1.  Gamification.  Some websites give visitors points to increase engagement.  This loyalty tool taps into a persons sense of competition and progression.   At home, use practice beads as a visual encouragement when a certain skill is being mastered or a phrase is practiced.  Flip the bead from one side to the other when the task is complete.  Dancers and athletes often overlook conditioning which can lead to injuries and decreased skills.  Keep track of your stretches and strength exercises either per circuit or daily.  Don't have practice beads, use beans or coins.
  2. Coupons.  Many experts warn against associating rewarding children for practice because the reward becomes the goal and not mastering the skill.  However, positive reinforcement is a proven technique, as well.  Try creating coupons or other type of "fake" currency.  One family used painted beans. Associate tasks from homework, to chores to practice with a certain amount of coupons.  Create a chart with the exchange rate.  Your child will have fun earning, saving and finally exchanging their currency for activities, privileges or toys.  Figure out what works best for your family.
  3. Goals vs. Time.  Create reasonable goals verses telling children they have to do something for a certain period of time.  Similar to the counting beads, setting and meeting a goal sparks a certain innate sense of competition.  For example,  ask them to learn a piece of music by the weekend for a family performance or shoot five baskets before the street light turns green.
  4. It's My Prerogative.  At the end of the day practice is necessary.  We all know that we can't master a skill without it but sometimes we just don't feel like it.  Kids are the same.  Let your child create the practice schedule or the goal.  They will have a greater sense of responsibility and independence.  Feel free to write it down and present it as a mutual contract.
  5. Influencers.  What's all this for anyway?  Show them what mastery looks like.  Take them to a live show, ideally with a Q&A with the artist., Youtube is a great resource.  If you know someone in their field see if your child can meet them and even take a private lesson.  I still hear from kids who came by my Dad's house for a private drum lessons.  Even if they don't go on to play that instrument, they'll have a story to tell!  Another great resource, especially for young classical musicians should be sure to check out From The Top on NPR.  Learning about the habits of successful people is learning about success, regardless of the field.
  6. Model Behavior.  Be the change.  Learn something.  As a child who grew up in a family with two entrepreneurs who also happened to be musicians - one professionally and one educationally.  It's no surprise that I have a business dedicated to the arts.  Show your children how to apply themselves to achieving a goal.  Model independent study and your children will naturally incorporate those traits into their lives.  It may take a week or a day or ten years.  But they will come around.


Motivate Your Child in Music and More