Now that school is in session, many music programs are in full swing. Some parents have children who are in orchestra for the first time, and one of the biggest challenges facing a parent of a music student - whether new to the instrument, or a seasoned veteran - is motivating them to practice! This is an age-old issue, and I remember my mother bribing us, stating that we couldn't eat dinner until we practiced. While she wasn't the best cook, any growing boy knows you can't skip a meal, so I was motivated!
I read an article in Family Fun magazine, addressing this very issue, and there are some ideas posted by parents around the country. Though I'm not sure I agree with all of them, it is a fun read, and it might give you some ideas.
Of note (no pun intended) to me is the concept of 'fun' music. While many teachers will treat their students with some popular music, few do, but the parents can help motivate the child to practice by heading to the music store and picking up a song book of popular songs (be sure it is written either for the instrument, or, at very least, in the correct clef for the instrument your child can play). For every X amount of time spent practicing the assigned music, allow 5-10 minutes more to learn one of their favorite songs from the popular music hits chart!