How much practice should be done?
This is another question that I'm frequently asked. This will vary depending on the level your child has reached. As a beginner, it is a good start to encourage daily practice, but initially this only need be 2 -3 minutes, particularly for a young child. As the difficulty progresses, obviously more time is required at each session. For example, when preparing for an exam or concert, they really should be aiming for 15 - 20 minutes each day.
I always found it helpful, for both myself and my children, to have a regular practice time each day. In many cases, before school is an excellent time. Whilst you might be rushing around like a loony, your child can probably find a few minutes after breakfast to practise. The benefits of this mean that it is done first thing while your child is fresh and it's also out of the way very early! When they get home from school, there are so many other distractions and activities that it's just 'another thing' that needs to be done. If they get into the habit of practising at this time, it just becomes part of the morning routine and, in theory, you won't need to nag them to get it done.
Sometimes pupils can be very keen and go ahead by themselves in the book. Where possible, I usually ask students not to do this for a couple of reasons. It is important that the foundations are learnt correctly first, such as hand positions, sitting positions and reading the music. It is tempting to go ahead and see what songs are coming up (I know, I used to do it myself!) However, it is also equally easy to learn something incorrectly or not fully and sometimes it can be harder to 'unlearn' than it is to learn in the first place. A little bit of patience for the first lesson or so will really pay off in the long run.