The newest member of the prestigious high IQ club Mensa is 4–year–old Heidi Hankins of Winchester, England. She scored an impressive 159 on the Mensa IQ test, one point shy of that of Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. That is quite remarkable.
The test measured her score against her peers of other 4-year-olds; she scored within the top 2 percent (which is the requirement for admission into Mensa). It is noted that children are scoring higher on IQ tests these days, for the sheer fact that parents are educating their children at much younger ages.
Do you think that by associating a child this young with her high IQ score can have adverse effects on her life? I think, as with any gifted child, once a parent discovers that the child excels in an area, they tend to try and nurture that gift. This would be natural, of course. If you had a child who was a gifted athlete, you would try to help them grow in their skills, receive effective training, and play at the appropriate level. You’d be proud of your child and want to help them excel in any way possible.
What happens if the child starts to be pushed too hard or pigeonholed by their achievements? By knowing that your child is of high intelligence, wouldn't you start to focus more on academics? Perhaps to the exclusion of everything else, even a normal childhood. It seems it would be easy to slip from encouraging parent to overbearing, especially with someone as young as Heidi Hankins.
The child could start to feel like their entire life revolves around academics. It would be overwhelming. The school and the parents might see it as beneficial to nurture the child’s intelligence by pushing them harder, teaching them above and beyond the average scope of children their age, pushing them to be someone they are not. I think IQ scores are great tools to use to gauge intelligence, when a child is a little older to know their strengths and weaknesses, but I don’t think IQ scores should be used to sit a small child on a path that they have no say in for the rest of their lives.
I've known children who scored high on the IQ standardized testing and then had no say in their education or classes all the way through high school. The IQ scores were high, the counselors advised the parents to go the AP/gifted route, the child had no say, the child was pushed into classes and extracurricular activities with no consideration for what the child wanted. With the high IQ came expectations of greatness.
Do you think that children who are labeled with high IQs or as gifted are treated differently by society?
Image via Deborah Cruz