Lifelong learning

This is the concept of pursuing additional education on one’s own volition.


Beyond formal education, some people are self-motivated to learn more, gain new skills and continue to develop themselves professionally.

Their desire to add on extra qualification by studying out of their regular working hours and taking up self-paced courses may be very smart and beneficial especially at a time that there is an economic crunch.

Adding value to oneself ensures competitiveness and employability, and also brings a personal sense of achievement.

The ability of an adult to initiate a course of study in an informal way, catch up with lectures, meet the demands of assignments and organise oneself around this programme successfully does not happen so easily for everyone.

Some struggle with time management, monitoring the tasks of the course of study, and may even find it difficult to plan and complete the programme.

Interestingly, the foundation for such versatility in adulthood is actually laid in early childhood. 

Executive function

Children who are supported to develop executive function skills grow with a hunger to learn more even in adulthood.

They usually do not struggle to take up learning opportunities that come their way, and sail through excellently.

Executive functional skills are the cognitive, mental, motor, sensory and communication skills that help us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions and apply knowledge.

 Well-developed executive function skills also make it easy to multi-task.

These skills develop in childhood and follow one into adulthood.

In the workplace, whether one is a supervisor, leader or even a subordinate, executive functioning skills determine how effective and efficient one will be.

“Executive functioning has been shown to be one of the characteristics that helps young people grow into great leaders, and this world needs more effective leaders in every arena” ― Jethro Jones (Positive Intelligence Coach)

A warm sensitive relationship with a caregiver who provides an environment where the child gets adequate sleep, good nutrition (exclusive breastfeeding and complementing breastfeeding with diverse healthy food later), safety and peace of mind are optimal for developing these skills.


Childhood opportunities that help children to exercise their working memory, develop self-control and train them to be mentally flexible are the basis for building executive function skills that will help one to stay relevant in their fields as adults.

Parents can help children develop executive function skills by providing them with structures and predictable routines.

Children who have no specific times for waking, eating, napping, playing etc., can grow to be disorganised. 

Imitation games such as clapping hands, pointing to parts of the body and acting out rhymes during infancy are an important way to start stimulating the working memory.

Teachers asking children to write the steps of an activity, (for instance, how to prepare one’s favourite food) are all brain exercises that help build the capacity of children to make detailed plans Children must be encouraged to meet deadlines.


 There should be no room for excuses.

Overprotective parents who do not allow their children to try new things may not be helping them to grow their confidence.

Parents and teachers must scaffold the interest of children to take up new challenges and support them to complete their tasks.

Good behaviour must be acknowledged, and unacceptable behaviour called out.

All these certainly do pay off much more in adulthood.


According to Brian Tracy (motivational speaker and self-development author), people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.

How so true!

Developing and establishing executive functional skills in childhood is the key to attainment of such heights.

The writer is a Child Development Expert/ Fellow at Zero-to-three.

Academy, USA.

E-mail: [email protected]

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