For some parents, Emily Oster has been the science-minded, non-hysterical voice of reason throughout this pandemic, offering advice on how to assess risk, reward and safety. (If you follow her newsletter or IG stories, then you know what we’re talking about.)
But for many, the Brown University economics professor has been a guiding force since well before we knew words like “viral load” and “PCR,” thanks to her books Cribsheet and Expecting Better, which offer data-backed approaches to everything from swaddling to drinking coffee during pregnancy.
Her newest book, The Family Firm: A Data-Driven Guide to Better Decision Making in the Early School Years, brings this approach to older children. The central conceit is that families, like businesses, need a mission statement—an agreed-upon goal or set of goals that helps them make better decisions.
We recently sat down with Oster to ask her about this goal-setting technique, as well as the coming school year and the one mistake she wishes parents would stop making.