The Twelve-Year-Old College Student Started Reading At Just Six Months Old
by Trisha Leigh
Most of us don’t learn how to read until we’re between the ages of four and six, but though rare, there have always been those prodigies among us.
When Caleb Anderson started reading books at just 6 months old, his parents surely realized that’s exactly what they had on their hand – and now that he’s enrolled in community college at age 12, there can be no doubt.
Caleb, who attends Chattahoochee Technical College and takes courses like like calculus, U.S. history, and macroeconomics and dreams of becoming an aerospace engineer one day, spoke with NPR about his experience.
“I’m fascinated that there’s another world beyond ours. There’s another place. There’s a better place. You have the heroes that go on the rockets and fly up to space. But the aerospace engineers, they have their life in their hands. And I really think it’s interesting and amazing that they do that.”
Caleb’s mother, Claire, said that at 1 month old, her son was trying to mimic speech. By 9 months, he could sign over 250 words in American sign language, and was reading words he’d never seen before.
At 2 he was doing fractions. At 3 he qualified for MENSA, a society of people with exceptional IQs (though he didn’t enroll until he was 5) and he’d passed the first grade – while also mastering Spanish, French, and Mandarin.
Claire and her husband Kobi, an IT salesman, wavered between letting him skip middle school and worrying their son’s social skills would suffer if they did.
At 9, Caleb headed to 7th grade.
“They looked down on me because I was younger than them. And not only that, the curriculum was boring to me because I learn really, really fast. One day I came to my mom and she asked me, ‘Are you happy here?’ and I said ‘No, I’m really bored. This isn’t challenging me.’”
They made adjustments, and how he’s finishing high school and earning his associate’s degree at the same time. His father is his campus chaperone, and even though he and his wife can’t really help Caleb with his homework, they focus on teaching him compassion, kindness, and looking for the good in others – which is easier now that Caleb feels like he’s where he belongs.
“It’s really accepting. People might think something about it, but they don’t show it which is really nice.”
The Andersons now have two other children, Aaron (8) and Hannah (7), both of whom are enrolled in the gifted program at school.
When asked what advice he would give other parents, Kobi says that people should be as quick to promote and celebrate academic achievements the way they would athletic or social ones.
“My wife frequently says ‘raise the child you have no the child that you want. You’ve got to nurture what nature gives you.”
They sound like wise parents and I’m sure Caleb is going to do big things in life – I can’t wait to see where he goes next!