Once a year I do a music practice challenge that works VERY well with all of my students. Even though I use it in my music studio, the same idea can be used for any aspect of learning. Kids can practice reading doing HW, etc. The last week of November, I buy Christmas Count or Christmas Chocolate Advent Bars. I purchase mine from Trader Joe’s and they look like this. However, you can find these in many stores. It has 24 boxes an each box has a small chocolate inside. The kids get to count off the days before Christmas by eating a small treat every day.
My students are instructed to practice for 24 days in a roll starting December 1st. After each practice session, they can have one chocolate. If they miss a day, they are not allowed to continue and make up for the time. I assign different things to all my students. They can only open the chocolate box after practicing a particular skill, review pieces, etc. If the student is a reluctant practicer or if they have a specific technical issue they are working on, then I make the practice shorter but specific to their own needs.
Do I give them “chocolate practice challenges” all the time? Absolutely not!!! I do not want my students to associate practicing with getting something material. I want to motivate them, not condition them. Notice that for this challenge they have to develop consistency of doing it every day. This is different from the “if you practice I will give you candy”-you can read more about in this post. I do this only once a year around the Holidays. My parents have “reported” that their kids are very excited to practice after completing the activity. I am happy because this challenge keeps the consistency of practice during the Holiday Season! It also incorporates fun with learning which is always a good recipe for retention of information.
Try this with your child! Find a task that they have a harder time with. That can be math, house chores, or practicing a musical instrument. Work on developing consistency through a game!
Extra Resources and Practice Ideas
I love this post about making seasonal games where children get to assemble a picture based on the season, then practice the assignment on the back of the different parts. It is from the Music Notes and Tips site. I have done similar things with my students and they have worked very well. Check the practice post here