I’m sure most of us have heard of Robert Fulghum’s book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. If we haven’t read the book, we’ve likely seen some of the various spinoffs: all I need to know I learned from a teacher; all I need to know I learned from watching Star Trek; all I need to know I learned from a Little Golden Book; all I need to know learned from a cow… So let’s add another spinoff: all I really need to know I learned in STUDY SKILLS!

This might seem an oversimplification, but study skills and executive function skills truly are LIFE SKILLS. It’s not just about how to read, take good notes, and learning test-taking strategies, although these are certainly part of it. These skills also include time management, organization, improvisation, and flexibility. Harvard studies have shown that strengthening executive function skills aids not only in school performance but also has long term effects in making wise choices for our health and career success as well. (See In Brief: Executive Function: Skills for Life and Learning at www.developingchild.harvard.edu). By way of illustration, let’s consider just one aspect of executive functioning: flexibility.

Flexibility applies to flexibility in social relationships and in scheduling. How do we react when the car won’t start and we need to rearrange our day to accommodate a trip to the mechanic? What about when a change of personnel or project requirements necessitates restructuring a project plan in the office? Without the ability to be flexible, a body’s natural response is stress; therefore, developing a framework for flexibility enables us improvise where needed and manage stress more effectively. Improving our mental and emotional flexibility requires practice but developing the skill of flexibility has long term effects.

We’ve only highlighted one executive function skill, but it illustrates the point pretty convincingly. Learning good study skills is a building block for future life skills! If you’re interested in learning more, consider our ten week Study Skills and Executive Function course that starts next week. Check it out here: http://fickeducation.com/executive-function-study-skills/