Child prodigies are children with exceptional talents which are recognized at a very young age. These children are usually more than just academically bright, they possess talents and abilities that are far beyond their years. Usually, child prodigies will also have a very high IQ. It is important to remember that IQs vary over time. Fluid intelligence peaks in our mid 20s and begin to decline afterwards. Crystallized intelligence on the other hand, peaks in our mid 50s due to the greater body of accumulated knowledge and experiences in people of that age. Well-conceived IQ tests should therefore measure IQs relative to people in your own age group. In its beginnings, IQ testing involved measuring someone’s mental age (MA) and dividing by that person’s chronological age (CA). A child that was able to perform that’s in excess of his or he chronological age (or actual age) was then considered to be smart for his or her age, and a high score could be associated with child prodigies. The greater the distance between MA and CA, the higher that person’s IQ would be. So in modern-day IQ testing, a child who takes the same IQ test as an adult may achieve the same lower number of correct answers than the adult, but still have a much higher IQ than the adult. The real way to establish the distribution of IQ test results for say, eight-year-olds taking a particular test, is to test a large representative sample of eight year olds, and to establish a distribution of those results for that particular test. So the average score on the test for the eight year olds may be 40% correct, with a standard deviation of 5 percentage points. If this were to be the case, roughly 68% of kids would have gotten a score between 35 and 45% correct. So the eight year old child in the top 2% would have answer 55% of questions correctly.
If you were to administer this exact test to 25 year old adults, the average for the adults might be 55%, with a standard deviation of 5%. So an adult in the top 2% of 25 year olds would need to answer 65% of questions correctly.
So the 8 year old answering 55% of questions correctly would have a higher IQ (in the top 2%) than the 25 year old who answered 60% of questions correctly (top 32% of test takers). So bright children may not be smarter than adults in absolute terms, but are definitely so in relative terms.
Examples of child prodigies
Some famous child prodigies include Mozart (IQ of 143), would was writing concertos by the age of 8. Bobby Fischer (IQ of 160) was a young chess champion, while Terrence Tao (IQ>200) was the youngest-ever winner of field medals in mathematics. So being a child prodigy is not just about high IQ, it’s about incredible accomplishment for that child’s age.
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