- What was the name of the artist who painted Harmony in Red?
- In the navigational term GPS, what does the letter P stand for?
- In which year of the 18th century was America’s Declaration of Independence?
- The conflict between Britain and Spain which began in October 1739 was the so-called War of Jenkin’s ___?
- Three hydrogen atoms and one nitrogen atom make up one molecule of what?
- Which British Prime Minister was a neighbour of the Nightingale family?
- Who, in a letter to the Duke of Cambridge, famously said of Nightingale ‘I wish we had her in the war office’?
Can you answer any one of these questions? I managed four, but one ten-year-old girl knew the answers to all of the above – and more. Rhea was crowned Channel 4’s Child Genius and you can read the story of the competition here.
Many years ago, the children’s book author Jacqueline Wilson was in London and my children’s father bumped into her in the street. He ran over to her and gushingly told Miss Wilson that he is such a fan of her writing. She was of course shocked and felt creeped out, because she writes girls’ stuff.
“Oh, I read your books to my daughter every night,” he reassured her hastily. Yes, indeed, he did. He had been reading about awful teachers, spotty faces, periods and nasty boys to our youngest child – she must have been about ten.
Why? She couldn’t read. Or claimed that she couldn’t, though she could count. She didn’t do too well for her exams then.
My belief is that every child is a genius. Thus as parents, we first and foremost must strive for balance and happiness as the foundation for healthy, adult lives, and then the genius emerges from the happy child >>> second stage.
The second stage: nurture their passion rather than push, hothouse, chase glory, at the expense of other important things in life that children need to grow into well-balanced, family-orientated, kind adults living purposeful lives.
Georgina is “gifted”, in the way that ALL children are. We just have to allow the gift to emerge. Maybe her gift is a bit more when it comes to Mathematics. Ask her about tetrahexaflaxagon and she will blow your mind away with her innate, intuitive knowledge of geometry. Much as she moans about it, she can prove equations at the drop of a hat. Discuss entropy with her and she hits back with the irrefutable logic of a Fibonacci sequence. Where does it come from?
It doesn’t matter. Maths is just Maths. She couldn’t read properly until she was eight (or ten). She’s still lousy at Literature and History.
She didn’t work hard at all in school until she was THIRTEEN but we were not particularly bothered because we could see that she was growing up ever so beautifully – a strong, happy little girl with a wicked sense of humour and a strong desire to succeed, despite of her easy childhood. She is like our sunshine, our bundle of light. We delight in her so much.
When I interviewed Georgina for my book Easy Parenting for All Ages, she said she decided to work hard when she turned thirteen because she was starting to develop breasts and curves then, and the boys were giving her their attention whilst girls were bitching about her. She wanted to show the world that she is also a Grade A student, not just tits and ass.
She was ready, in her own sweet time.
Did we push her? YES. A very big YES. We pushed her to go to church, we pushed her to phone her grandparents, we pushed her to hang out on the beach with us, we pushed her to watch football on the television, we pushed her to sit down for long dinners with us instead of doing her homework or studying. Because as her father said, didn’t matter if she couldn’t read or write, so long as she is healthy, happy and a ‘good’ person.
Here she is with her father, who read to her for years (fairy books and then Jacqueline Wilson) and who is never far from her side.
You can’t stick wings on a butterfly and expect it to fly. You have to give it a safe haven so that it can grow its own wings.