Executive Function Skills: What Are They and Why Do They Matter For My Child?


The sky’s the limit for young children dreaming about what they can be when they grow up. But even their big imaginations can’t foresee what careers they’ll have – it’s estimated that 65 percent of jobs children will have don’t exist yet. The future of workplace may be unknown, but the foundational skills needed to succeed transcend innovation.

Last year, we conducted a national survey with human resources (HR) managers responsible for hiring. The survey revealed that critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, self-control, adaptability and memory – often collectively referred to as executive function skills – are more highly valued in entry-level candidates than technical abilities, academic background and other factors. Two-thirds of HR managers also agreed that hiring entry-level employees with these skills is a top priority for their company’s long-term success.

Executive Function Skills for Kids Infographic

Our survey also revealed the following:

  • 70% of seasoned HR managers agreed that entry-level employees are rarely proficient in executive function skills.
  • 25% of respondents said entry-level employees are becoming less proficient in executive function skills over time.
  • The majority of HR managers agreed that executive function skills are difficult to teach to entry-level employees in the workplace.

These findings may seem a little scary, especially when research shows that 90 percent of employers worldwide believe skills like self-control and teamwork will only become increasingly important in the future.

But there’s good news for parents – executive function skills are rooted in early childhood. There is mounting evidence that parents, grandparents, early education providers and other caregivers have the opportunity to help children develop these skills. By intentionally nurturing executive function skills during children’s first few years (find out how here), parents and caregivers can help set them up for success that will last a lifetime.

To learn more about how these skills are embedded into our Balanced Learning® approach or to find ways to nurture them at home, check out our tips and resources.

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