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Famous child prodigies who have inspired us throughout history.

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It is tempting to dismiss the success of child prodigies as a result of good genes; to assume their accomplishments and contributions to society as adults is inevitable. A quick dig into the childhoods of some of the most famous child prodgies will reveal a different truth.

In fact, without their parents or mentors fostering of their talents and creativity at a young age, these child prodigies may have never gone on to do all that they have, and the world as we know it would look very different today.

These famous childhood beginnings are something to consider when raising your own little genius.

1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Music composition.

Despite living a mere 35 years, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is remembered as the most prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. This feat was in no small way enabled by the support of his composer and violinist father, Leopold Mozart. Leopold recognised his son’s talent from a very young age, and sacrificed much of his own career to dedicate himself to the tutelage of his youngest child.

First taking up the harpsichord at three, along with his older sister, Mozart would spend much of his childhood touring Europe’s grandest royal courts and most prestigious concert halls. Mozart composed his first piece of published music at five, his first symphony at eight, and first opera at twelve – the first few in 600 compositions over his lifetime.

Mozart wrote his first symphony at eight and first opera at twelve... just to make us all feel super inadequate. Image: Wikipedia Commons.

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2. Akrit Jaswal - Medicine.

Before being brought to the world’s attention on The Oprah Show, Akrit Jaswal was already known in his home country, India, for having the highest I.Q. of any boy his age, and having performed a successful surgery at the age of seven. Speaking at ten months of age, and reading Shakespeare at five, Jaswal showed excellence in several ways before discovering his passion for science and anatomy, an interest that was encouraged by doctors who allowed him to observe surgeries.

A family from regional India heard of Jaswal, and unable to otherwise afford surgery for their daughter, asked he perform surgery on her fused fingers, the result of horrific burns –the world’s media and heads of academia came knocking soon after. Jaswal was accepted into university at twelve years of age, the youngest student ever at any Indian university. He has previously declared his ambition to find the cure for cancer.

Jaswal was speaking from just 10 months of age. Image: The Oprah Winfrey Show.

3. Marie Curie – Physics, chemistry and radioactivity.

Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice, and the only person to win in multiple sciences. Before devising the science of radioactivity though, the work for which she is most remembered for, she was a child prodigy who helped her older siblings with their maths homework.

Curie had first shown signs of her genius at only age four, when she recalled events that happened years before – “Remember that time when I was three months old and you put my diaper on backwards, idiot?” – and taught herself to read Russian and French. Though exceptionally bright, Curie’s earliest interest in academia can be attributed to her two teacher parents who instilled the value of education to all their children.

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"Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize." Images: Wikipedia Commons.

4. Gregory R Smith – Humanities.

At only twelve years of age, Gregory R Smith was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, the most prestigious in a long list of remarkable achievements by the child. Smith completed most of primary school in a single year, and at seven was attending high school classes. He was ten years old when he enrolled in university, where he studied advanced level physics, French and calculus.

At an age when most kids are concerned with little more than homework and spending time with friends, Smith founded the International Youth Advocates, an organisation promoting unity and understanding among youth around the world.

Since adolescence, Smith has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize another four times. He is now a postdoctoral researcher at Mount Sinai where he studies stochastic gene expression, in an effort to create better drug treatments for cancer sufferers.

Smith was ten when he enrolled in college. Image: The Oprah Winfrey Show.

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5. Pablo Picasso – Visual arts.

The son of a painter, Picasso was encouraged to paint and draw from infancy – his mother claimed that prior to speaking his first word, Picasso was already adept at drawing, and indeed when he at last spoke, it was to ask for a pencil. Happy to encourage young Picasso’s creativity, his father, both an artist and professor, began giving Picasso formal artistic training from the age of seven; Picasso completed his first oil painting two years later. By thirteen years of age, Picasso’s father conceded that his son’s talent surpassed his own, and a year later, Picasso was admitted to a prestigious Barcelona art school.

Picasso went on to co-found many art movements and techniques, most notably Cubism and collage, and produced over 22, 000 artworks that brought him much fame and acclaim.

Picasso pictured left with his sister Lola in 1889. Image: Wikipedia Commons.

The take away? All children are born creative genius’, up for adventure and fun and ready for inventing. As parents, guardians, role models of children, it’s our job to foster and encourage their creativity. By nurturing imagination and creativity at a young age we can create environments for their imagination to flourish.

Who knows you may have the next Mozart in your household.

How do you encourage your child's creativity?