On an elist I was on one woman wrote in about how she was having such a hard time with her son who would rather play then do school. I know very few young children who prefer the latter and I have been exasperated by it with my son before. But I came upon a solution earlier this year that has worked very well and I offer my reply below.
One thing that is said around here if complaining, inattentiveness or dawdling occur during school time is that they can be a student or a servant. I know that this my not appeal to everyone as it can put chores in a negative light, but it has helped tremendously in putting school in a positive light. The first time their behavior is not what it ought I just ask in the most pleasant manner, "do you want to be a servant or a student?" The answer is always student. But if any negative behavior appears again, they get a chore to do like washing the chairs, cleaning window sills some of the non-assigned seasonal chores. It has removed my emotions from the occurance because it saves me from having to do the chores and is therefore a pleasant and not a negative thing to me, and if they complain at the chore I get two chores done=). It only occurs rarely now which has made school much more pleasant, because the children know that the alternative to school is NOT play time, it is work time.