We don't get out our bag of tricks every time we practice. Some of the time we try to practice before an enjoyable everyday activity so we have a pleasant association with practice time. Example: "Let's practice before we go run errands, or before our friend comes over, before we go to the library, so we can help dad rake leaves, etc.
Some of the easiest things really help. Make a practice paper. Scale=a square. Tonalization = a triangle. Review Songs = a circle. New song = a heart. After finishing each thing, stop and have your child color in the shape. Like a chart or a sticker page it helps the child see their accomplishments.
We earn treats sometimes for practicing. A treat can be a new pencil, balloon, picture to color hand drawn by mom or dad (kids love this even if they're awful), snack, candy, library book, a sparkler saved from the 4th of July. We have a large candy jar. The kids had the idea of dumping in their may basket, eater and Halloween candy. Andy other child or friend who listens to the practice session gets the same amount of treats for being a good listener.
Take any treat and wrap it up. Kids love these little present even if they are just the same treats they've had before
Write down the things you're going to practice on little notes. Fold them really small and stuff them in balloons. The child has to pop the balloon to find out what to practice. You can put paper clips on the notes and fish them out of a pail with a magnet on a string for fishing fun.
Use the balloons, fish or draw the notes out of a hat for a treasure hunt. After practicing each thing you draw a note to tell where to look for a treat. Just draw a picture of the place to look if your child can't read yet. Mom has to hide the treats before anyone know you're having a treasure hunt or everyone including the dog will find them before you're ready.
Sometimes mom uses an ugly old puppet who talks like Grover to begin practice. The puppet has to hide behind mom while we are playing the violin so we can be seriuo0s, but he comes out between songs to give compliments and ask lots of questions.
originally published in a UNI Suzuki School publication.