The Beads on her necklace of life 

The other day, I was explaining to my 7-year-old daughter why it was important to study languages as a child. In her case French is mandatory at school. But for some reason she feels that it is a language that doesn’t appeal to her and that English is good enough. I explained to her that learning a language is an opportunity and that it is so important to learn it when you are young, because it will be more difficult later on in life. Telling a child that she is lucky and trying to make her understand that she is fortunate to have a variety of languages, sports and extra-curricular activities offered to her is not easy.

As the conversation went on, I realized that my daughter was drifting on to other thoughts, so I decided to relate my idea to something that would speak to her—she loves arts and crafts, jewelry…beads. Yes, that was it! I told her that her life is like a necklace and that the more beads she adds to it the more colorful it will become. All the knowledge and skills she is being taught today—whether French, math, violin, ballet, football—represent beads on her necklace of life. To those skills are added the most valuable beads: those of hard work, patience, politeness, persistence…

The number of beads is not as important as the quality of the beads. The purpose of this necklace is not to add the most beads. I don’t want her to think that jumping from one activity to another is a good thing. I actually set out a rule for all the children that, at the beginning of the school year, they have a couple of weeks to start a new activity, which they can “test” and then decide whether they will pursue it. If the children decide to take it up, they must persevere for the whole school year. In some cases, this is as painful for them as it is for me—hearing them complain, week after week, that piano is boring takes a lot of patience. And patience is one of my very precious beads. Unfortunately, it tends to drop off my necklace from time to time.

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