Little Ashton is just four, but he can already name the elements of the periodic table and can already do addition in Math! We ask Chaven Alex, mommy of this gifted child in Singapore, more about this little prodigy she has been raising.
How did she know that her child was gifted? Read all about it here!
Read about this gifted child!
To start off, mommy Chaven tells us that Ashton was a premature baby.
“He was preterm at 33 weeks exactly but weighing almost 2.9 kg. He cried so so much, uncontrollably since he turned a month old. It didn’t stop till he was a year old!”
“He needed very little sleep and it was worrying. We sent him to the doctors repeatedly for check ups. He was growing fine and very chubby. ‘Nothing was wrong’ with him. His refusal to sleep and daily need of having me to rock him in my arms made me loose 25 kgs in 6 months after his birth.”
“I was desperate, so was my husband. We had no help from family and I was obstinate and determined not to have a helper. I wanted to raise Ashton ‘myself.'”
“His constant cries kept me home for a year,” says Chaven, who left her job in the luxury industry when she was 2 weeks pregnant with Ashton, as she had a threatened pregnancy with excessive bleeding.
“He cried everywhere we went. His lack of sleep was worrying”.
The family tried all sorts of remedies to help the baby cry less and sleep more. And then one day, things changed.
“At 8 months old, we received a book from a friend. I put that aside as I thought Ashton was still too young. When he was 10 months old, I remember he was crying so bad, he kicked and the book dropped.”
“He caught a glimpse of it and he went all quiet. I showed him the book and started reading. He looked all enthusiastic. My husband didn’t believe me when I told him what had happened.”
“I then bought his first ABC book from Changi Airport. I showed it to him for 3 days and I found out he could recognize the alphabet. When I asked him, “Which was letter ‘Z’”, he would flip the pages and point and I still have videos of those days.”
Was my baby gifted?
“I didn’t know he was ahead of others his age. I had many friends in a support group, but it’s just not us to chat about such things or make comparisons for milestones. It was through a video I put up on my Facebook that friends commented that, at that age, babies wouldn’t be able to recognize letters.”
“I brushed it aside thinking ‘every child is different’ and mine just happened to love the alphabet. He grew up to show an interest in numbers. He could count 10-1 (backwards) before he turned 2.”
“And he could spell colors at the age of 2. He could also count/speak in simple Spanish, French, Japanese at age 2. More milestones followed. He did addition/subtraction, recognized planets including the 5 draft planets before he turned 3.”
“He could read any book I showed him. As he got on with his learning and was outspoken, we had strangers coming up to us tell us he might be gifted. We also sent him to attend a preschool for 2 months when he was 2 years of age, but he couldn’t sit when the teacher started the class.”
“I was desperate as he was inquisitive and I finally sent him to 2 psychologists for IQ Tests. He was proven Gifted with an IQ of about 160.”
Surprises me every day
We saw a video where he was naming the elements of the periodic table while doing his Math sums! Tell us more?
“Yes I could see that he was getting bored at home as he has no school. My 100% time with him had to be shared with his baby sister.” (Ashton’s kid sister Ansley is just 1)
“I see a frustration in him, which I hadn’t experienced before, so I keep having to think of daily activities to keep him busy or stimulated.”
“One night, I just thought – since he loves numbers, why not try the Periodic Table of Elements which I was strong at. I asked him during bedtime and showed him the chart on my phone. He said he wanted to learn them but I brushed him off saying, “Ok, lets do this when you get older, this is challenging’”.
“He went to bed, only to bug me the next day, wanting to learn. I drew the table (only half of it) and he was so happy!”
“I took a shortcut by printing the table from Google and taught him. He took 3 days to tell me elements from 1-50 and a week to learn all 118 elements when I randomly asked him the atomic numbers.”
Here is a video of the little genius at work:
“He has an amazing memory and the ability to empathize, which is what I love most about him.”
“Mannerism, respect and love is what I want him to understand from young. He has achieved it and I am very proud of him.”
Nurturing a gifted child
How have you nurtured the gifted child in Ashton in terms of exposure to knowledge, activities and even nutrition?
“Raising Ashton was never easy”, says mommy Chaven.
“Every time I look back, it’s hard not to get emotional. It is indeed tough. He has a highly inquisitive mind, which needs stimulation almost every second.”
“A lot of talking, everywhere we go. He learns. It doesn’t and won’t stop. For food, he eats very simple things. Mainly organic vegetables, soup, porridge daily, and no he doesn’t take sweets or any sort of snack since he was a young baby.”
“People never believed us until they tried offering him or enticing him with delicious food and was rejected.”
Challenges of raising a gifted child
What are the challenges that a gifted child may face, especially when it comes to schooling? Does Ashton go to preschool?
“Ashton isn’t in school. It is tough. So tough to find him a suitable school or teacher I must say,” reveals Chaven.
“I got to learn that the best preschools/brands don’t necessarily bring out the best in a child. It’s the teacher who needs to have loads of patience to handle a gifted child. As they might throw tantrums and get bored easily if they are forced to go through the normal stream or curriculum.”
“We were advised by doctors to send him to a true Montessori which means students in class are of different ages and are grouped according to their pace or abilities. It’s impossible to find one in Singapore. I tried my best.”
“Skipping grades seems like a ‘taboo’ to the local system. Gifted Education Programme (GEP) is only at Primary 4. And I don’t know how I am going to survive another 6 yrs in Singapore without a school which can offer him more”
“I am desperate to find a school which can accept him for who he is… I have tried writing to the Minister of Education, but I guess these gifted preschoolers are deemed minority or less significant.”
“To a tired mother who is trying to keep up in raising him happily, I am forced to think of options – like leaving Singapore. I sincerely hope and pray for a day that the Singapore educational system will pay more attention to young gifted children and help us in supporting a local true Montessori.”
“We definitely look forward to support and hope that Ashton can stay and be educated in Singapore.”
What are some other challenges you foresee for Ashton, in terms of behaviour, personality development and socialising with peers?
“He doesn’t have a problem socializing at all. He is taught to meet and greet people of all ages. To show respect and manners at all times to the young and elderly. He greets anyone and everyone.”
“The only challenge I faced is, he needs to learn more and more, and I have limitations of my time and abilities. We need to find a good teacher or support from Government for gifted children.”
Advice for other parents
What advice do you have for parents, especially for those of gifted children?
“I don’t think I can advice as every child is different. What seems great for my child does not apply to others”, says Chaven
“For gifted children, traits are obvious and parents need to spend more time in monitoring them, listening and providing what’s best for them. More importantly, give them your TIME.”
“They need constant attention from us. Ignoring our child’s giftedness might indeed harm them or make them grow up unhappy or not feeling understood.”
“This might make our child loose confidence in themselves or us, and deter the child to communicate with parents when they grow older.”
Thank you so much Chaven, for sharing your blessed experience with us. Here’s to more amazing discoveries and learning from little Ashton. Love, happiness and peace to this family!