All parents excitedly mark their children’s first milestones, but what happens when your child is so smart that he got into high IQ society group Mensa at age three?
At a time when most kids are just starting to run, identify colors, and talk in complete sentences, toddler Teddy Hobbes can already read fluently and count in seven languages!
The child prodigy from Portishead, Somerset shocked everyone when he was admitted to the high IQ society group as Britain’s youngest member. But what can you expect from a boy who taught himself to read at age two years and four months?
Beth stated that the brainy boy learned to read by watching children’s television and copying the sounds of letters.
“He started tracing the letters and so when we sent him back to nursery after COVID lockdown we told them we thought he’d taught himself how to read.”
Teddy can also count to 100 in Mandarin, Welsh, French, Spanish, and German. Beth added, “He was playing on his tablet, making these sounds that I just didn’t recognize, and I asked him what it was, and he said, ‘Mummy, I’m counting in Mandarin.’”
Teddy has since joined Mensa after taking an IQ test where he scored 139 out of 160 on the Stanford Binet test, which placed him in the 99.5th percentile for his age.
Founded in 1947, Mensa is the international high IQ society that only accepts members who are above the 98th percentile of IQs worldwide.
Mensa has more than 50,000 members of all ages in around 90 countries worldwide. Most people will be shocked at Teddy’s admission to Mensa, but two-year old members of the high IQ society group include Kashe Quest of Los Angeles, California and Isla McNabb of Kentucky.
Parents Beth Hobbs, 31 and husband Will, 41, never expected Teddy to be a high IQ society member and didn’t even plan to apply for membership to Mensa.
Beth said, “We were told that three was the youngest age of anyone they had accepted into Mensa in the UK, though there was someone in the US aged two. To be honest it’s a total fluke really that he got in.”
She adds, “We never aimed to get him in, and even when we had him assessed, that was so that we could help him when he starts school in September – we never planned on getting him in to Mensa.”
Both parents had no idea that Teddy was smart enough to enter the high IQ society group. Beth related, “We did an IQ test, where we basically told him that he was going to sit and do some puzzles with a lady for an hour, and he thought it was the most wonderful thing. After he completed it we were told he was eligible by Mensa’s child adviser – so we thought he may as well join.”
Beth and Will were surprised by the result, saying, “We knew he could do things that his peers couldn’t, but I don’t think we realized quite how good he was. We took him to nursery afterwards and he had to come home after because he was so sad about having to stop doing puzzles. He’ll even do word searches to calm down.”
And naturally, Teddy was completely unaware of how great a deal it was to be a member of the high IQ society. Beth shared, “He wasn’t even that interested in what Mensa is, but he’s just about beginning to understand that he is more capable than other children – so when school starts I think he’ll realize more.”
Now four, Teddy is already capable of even reading Harry Potter books, when his parents allow him. Beth stated, “Obviously we don’t let him read Harry Potter – we pick more emotionally appropriate books, but he’s essentially at the stage where he can read anything we put in front of him.”
And smart as he is, the parents are not sure how he ended up being THIS intelligent. According to Beth, “We’re not sure how he ended up this way, my husband and I are not linguists – so we always joke that the embryologist must have slipped a needle or something to make him this way.”
“Everyone we have spoken to have been fabulous because it’s been really hard to find any support, but we have no idea why he is so clever. He doesn’t currently qualify for autism or ADHD diagnoses – and because he’s just so far ahead it’s hard to get help for him with his learning at that age,” added Beth.
The parents consider Teddy’s acumen at such an age as both a blessing and a curse though. He doesn’t show any interest is some of the more common things boys his age are engaged in, such as games or TV.
“It comes with its challenges, my friends can say, “Oh should we have some c-a-k-e” and their kids will not know what they’re saying, but Teddy will immediately spell it out and want some. You can’t get anything past him, he listens to everything. He will remember conversations you had with him at Christmas last year,” Beth shared.
The parents also recalled Teddy’s actions when the family welcomed his younger sister. Both siblings were IVF babies.
Beth related, “When we had our daughter we bought him a tablet so that we could focus on her, but he was never hugely interested in playing games or anything. He instead just likes to use apps to try and learn to count to 100 in Mandarin and other languages.”
Teddy also has a different definition for the word “fun,” which seems to indicate that he is an absolute fit for the high IQ society group Mensa.
Beth stated, “His idea of fun is that he likes to sit down and recite his times tables, and he even got so excited over fractions one time that he gave himself a nosebleed. That seems to be his quirk, and we’ll roll with it, but we’re trying very much to not make a thing of it.”
Teddy is still unaware of how he compares to other children his age, and his parents are trying to make sure that he stays humble despite his genius.
“He is beginning to notice though. He’ll look at some friends struggling to read and sort of be a bit like “How come they can’t do that” when he can – we’re just trying to make sure he doesn’t develop a superiority complex around it,” Beth said.
More than being able to read and write at a young age, Teddy has a curiosity and level of comprehension that is way beyond most children.
Beth shared, “He’s got a level of understanding too now that makes things difficult sometimes. So for example, on Remembrance Sunday he was asking what war is and what the poppies are for. It’s hard to explain that to him when he’s so young, especially when he knows things like that there is a war in Ukraine – so he asks if that is why we see Ukraine flags. He’s just got that level of interest in conversation above what I expect my friends are talking about with their four-year-olds.”
Right now, the parents are focused on developing his other skills. “His social and development skills really are the main priority; we spent a lot of time trying to have these children – so they need to be good citizens.”
And he might be the UK’s youngest high achiever, but he is still just a little boy. Beth offered, “He goes through phases and recently started learning all the different flags of the countries around the world. But more recently he’s gotten into play dough, which is great.
“He has some ideas that he wants to be a doctor one day because him and his friend likes to play doctors at nursery, but if you ask him what he wants to be he will just say he wants to focus on being a Teddy,” added Beth.
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