kids

'My daughter was three when we realised she was different. Then it happened to my son.'

When people find out I have two kids with a very high IQ, the first question they ask is, “Is the smart gene from you or your husband?”

The truth is, we have no other academic standouts in either family (Sorry, relos). My 13-year-old daughter, Amy, is a maths genius, while I count using my fingers. My husband only reads newspapers, while our 10-year-old son, Maxwell, was reading Sun Tzu’s Chinese military text The Art of War when he was just five.

Amy was a demanding baby, but what baby isn’t? At four to six months old, she was craving constant attention. I would spend a long time explaining objects in detail and where they fitted into a puzzle. For example, the spoon goes with the fork, or the envelope goes with the post box. Amy loved it, and a few hours later she correctly placed each pair together.

Amy’s daycare identified she may be gifted at around three years old and suggested a formal assessment by a specialist Gifted Child Psychologist.

Video via SBS

From a very early age Maxwell had a passion for history. He had absolutely no interest in superheroes or talking trains. He would sit for hours watching documentaries about Tutankhamen or Vikings, even if they weren’t in English! I decorated his room with posters detailing history and medieval architecture.

As Maxwell has a completely different nature and personality to Amy, I really didn’t put two and two together until we were at a GP check-up. Maxwell’s exact words were “Do I have the 1-3-3-4 plorj?” We eventually worked out that Maxwell had taught himself to read, and was asking if had the Year 1334 Plague! He was just three years old at the time. The doctor suggested Maxwell also be assessed, which then confirmed him to be of high intelligence.

People might think I am ungrateful, but when I read the 40-page assessment that confirmed and outlined their extraordinary ability, I immediately felt sick. Bricks of intense pressure and strain lumped on my shoulders. I didn’t want my children to have a similar schooling to me. I was the under-achieving kid left alone by teachers. I was a bored misfit that did not have a place in mainstream schooling, which led to poor outcomes.

Maxwell and Amy appear in the SBS show, Child Genius. Image: SBS.
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But I'm determined to foster their abilities.

As a mum with no formal teaching qualification I have always tried to incorporate "camouflage learning". This is where I will ask questions to try and get the kids to become critical thinkers. Little lessons whilst driving to school or at the shops. I like the kids to smell, taste, feel and hear as a part of the learning process. I can't sit still for long so I would not expect a five year old to either! My drive and energy to get kids thinking out of the box probably comes across as OTT, but I believe it's the way we learn which is most important.

I am a firm believer in nurture beats nature hands down. A person can have a superior ability but can be lazy. It's the hard-work, passion and want that elevates a winner. I agree with Einstein who said "Genius is 99 per cent hard work with only one per cent talent." We should never cap any child's potential, and instead learn what motivates them. I believe every child has the potential to be a genius.

Considering how quickly technology is changing, I believe it will be the geeky mathematicians that will be in demand, and that Amy and Maxwell's future will be creating a world of logical patterns and formulas. We need to encourage more maths loving coders, as I am sure it will be them who will control our future.

So to all the new mums out there - start early! That baby brain sponge is ready to soak up knowledge to maximum capacity. Start as soon as you get that sweet smelling newborn into your arms with 1+1=2, 2+2=4…

Six part series Child Genius airs from Monday 12 November, at 7.30pm on SBS. Catch up anywhere, anytime after broadcast on SBS On Demand.

Are you a mum to be or have little ones aged 5 or under? Take our quick survey for your chance to win one of THREE $100 gift vouchers.

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