I began playing violin in 4th grade. My school teacher was also a violinist and I remember her telling us one day "Practice doesn't make perfect. If you practice something incorrectly over and over again, you'll only be perfect at doing it wrong. PERFECT practice makes perfect." That may have been the beginning of my career as a perfectionist, but the lesson has always remained with me!
Regular practice was never a problem for me, as my main motivation for practicing was purely a love of music. However, I wish I knew then what I know now about practicing. There are so many ways to practice, and so many great helps for motivating kids to practice. When you have a younger student, there is going to be a lot more parental involvement in daily practice. Teaching young kids (and older ones) HOW to practice is almost as important as teaching them new concepts.
One thing I stress with my students is not to bumble through playing a song wrong. When I practice a new song and I play a measure incorrectly, I stop. I take a look at the trouble spot, make sure I am counting it correctly, and then slowly go over each note. I SLOW down, and try to play it perfectly 10 times before I speed up. Then I slowly speed up until I can play it perfectly up to tempo.
Each time kids practice, they should strive to get something performance ready. Even if it's just 2 measures of a song! During practice, students should pay attention to posture and positioning. They should have FUN! One way to make practicing more fun is to have a variety of things to practice. Finger exercises, old songs that are now easy, new songs that challenge, and a bit of theory are just some things I encourage my students to practice each day.
Here is a checklist I print into a booklet to keep track of practicing. (I give prizes to kids who practice 5 days or more each week.