When to Spend the Most on Your Child's Education

A Stamford author and Trinity College grad, Paul Sullivan, is speaking at RJ Julia Independent Booksellers in Madison on Thursday evening about his book The Thin Green Line, published by Simon & Schuster in March.

Sullivan, the Wealth Matters columnist for The New York Times, who shares "the money secrets of the super wealthy", dedicates a chapter to giving parents advice about how to best spend money on a child's education.

"No matter how much or how little money you have, you want your kids to be able to stand on their own two feet when they're adults," explains this father of two young girls.

He writes about folks who believe in sending their children to public school and those that feel a private education is a must.  He introduces a third group he calls "The Nursery School Obsessives", best embodied by residents of the Upper East Side of Manhattan who try to get their kids into a top-notch preschool at all costs.

"Without trying to judge any of the three camps, I wanted to see: was there any evidence that said 'This is the best way to spend your money,'" says Sullivan. 

He traveled to Chicago to interview James Heckman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, about his research regarding the economic benefits of high-quality early education.  The conclusion?  "Money spent throughout (childhood), if spent correctly, is going to give your kid a boost.  But, if you want to have the biggest bang for your buck, spend it between the ages of 3 and 8," says Sullivan.  "Whether or not you master Mandarin by the time you're 5, that is less relevant than your ability to stay on task, your ability not to quit, your ability to bounce back when you fail at something."

These traits - he says - will have the greatest impact on a child's long-term potential for being successful and happy.

"The idea is that these 'Nursery School Obsessives', who really get beaten-up because they exhibit some less than desireable traits, may be doing the right thing, if even for the wrong reason," he says.

Definitely food for thought.

Click here for more information about Sullivan's book and upcoming appearance at RJ Julia.


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