Elijah is 2 1/2 years old... and a Mensa member

Elijah Catalig's favourite activities before bed every night are not typical of the average two-year-old.

He solves patterns, reads storybooks and plays IQ games meant for children five years his senior.

At the age of two years and six months, Elijah is currently the youngest member of Mensa Singapore, the society for people with IQs in the top 2 per cent of the general population.

His mother, 38-year-old Laura Teo, said: "He can go on for hours if he likes something, and we get more tired than him."

She and her husband, Anatoly Catalig, 40, who is self-employed in business development, took their son for a psychological test last month and discovered he has an IQ score of 142, which places him at the 99.7 percentile.

He is also one of the youngest to join the local chapter of Mensa.

Only seven children around his age have joined the society here in the last four years. The youngest on record here is a boy who was two years and two months old when Mensa accepted him in November. An average child has an IQ of 100.

Elijah took the Stanford-Binet test, which measures analytical and reasoning abilities. The IQ test, measuring up to a score of 160, is used widely around the world.

He was tested on logic, maths, picture puzzles and number sequences. He scored the highest - 149 - in quantitative reasoning, the ability to use numerical skills to solve problems.

According to the report, he has the intellect of a four- to five-year-old. He is strong in using logical thinking and mathematics knowledge to solve picture problems and identifying visual patterns and sequences.

Madam Teo, who works in a bank's compliance department, said Elijah mastered the letters of the alphabet - both small and capital letters - before he turned one.

About a year later, he could count up to 50, and add and subtract with single-digit numbers.

"He's a fast learner - I taught him once and he remembered everything," said Madam Teo.

At first glance, Elijah seems like a typical two-year-old, eager to show adults his books and puzzles. He is happy watching Peppa Pig cartoons and eating ice cream. He enjoys painting animals, and his current interests are sharks and dinosaurs. Previously, he loved trains and cars.

"A few nights ago, he made me read to him 200 pages of Dr Seuss storybooks. I had a sore throat after that," said Madam Teo.

Mr Catalig, a Singapore permanent resident, said they try not to expose Elijah to devices such as smartphones and tablets. Instead they encourage him to read, colour or walk their dog.

The family live in a semi-detached house in an estate along Upper Thomson Road.

Elijah has been attending a playgroup programme nearby run by pre-school operator MindChamps for about seven months.

Next week, he will start a weekly class to develop his interest in maths at the Gifted and Talented Education Centre, which coaches bright children.

Madam Teo said: "I'm not a tiger mum, I let him do what he's interested in. My challenge is to give him an environment that will motivate him to learn.

"We never tell him that he's smart. If you give a child too much praise, they may not learn as much and they might stay in their comfort zone."


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