VietNamNet Bridge – Put a license plate in front of most 3-year-old boys and they will probably add it to their building block collection. Not so for Lieu Bao Bao. This little boy from the Nung ethnic group in the northern province of Lang Son will look at the numbers and add them all up. Then he will memorise the sequence and repeat it again anytime anyone wants to hear.

Bao has surprised everyone with his affinity for numbers, according to Bao�s mother Nguyen Thi Lan.

“Not long ago, when I was taking him to nursery school he started counting the numbers on license plates of motorbikes parked outside,” she says. “Now he remembers everyone�s plates and mobile phone numbers.”

He also has an advanced vocabulary and can already write his name, Lan says.

Bao is far more developed intellectually than most boys his age, his teacher Hoang Thi Le says.

“Once in class he picked up the picture book Ga Con Tron Me (Baby Chicken Hides His Mother) and read it aloud for the whole class. We were all so surprised.”

Bao�s intelligence is an asset for the whole community, says Po Mach Commune�s Party Secretary Lanh Thi Thiet.

“Scientists should determine his IQ as soon as possible so we can help him develop and direct his talents.”

Making noise

Youngsters Siu Khai and Ksor Sia are famous for a different reason. The two boys from Gia Lai�s Djriek Commune in Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands), have been expert gong players since they were three years old.

Now, four years later, the two boys� are renowned throughout their community. They were invited to perform at the Chu Se Town festival earlier this year. Khai�s father, Romah Bao, insists the youngsters had always shown an interest in playing the gong.

“The two boys were so enthusiastic about learning that we had to teach them.”

Now they are important members of the commune�s gong troupe and the pride of the village, neighbour Siu H�Pen says.

“It means a lot to us to have such young people interested in playing the gongs. Now we are not so worried about losing our gong culture.”

Speed reading

Seven-year-old Tran Nhu Tung in Ha Noi prefers reading. According to his mother, Tung could read a newspaper when he was only two and half years old.

“We were so surprised. He started off with the big headlines and three months later he was reading everything, including handwriting.”

As news of his extraordinary talent spread, the youngster was invited to take part in a meeting last year organised by Khoa Hoc va Doi Song (Science and Life) newspaper to talk directly with reporters and scientists about his talents.

Tung may be able to read the newspaper, but he likes advertisements and cartoons better, his mother says.

“He�s still getting good grades at school,” she adds.

Why so clever?

Environment is an important factor in raising an intelligent child, says researcher Nguyen Phuc Giac Hai from the Centre for Research of Human Potential.

“Exposure to modern technology helps these kids learn the letters and phrases in language. Computers and TV help develop their brains to recognise letters.”

But just being able to recognise the letters doesn�t automatically mean children can understand the meaning, he adds.

External influences during pregnancy can also do a lot to influence the unborn child, Hai says.

“If a mother spends a lot of time in concentrated thought, this will help her baby�s brain develop.” A pregnant woman�s diet is also vital of course, he adds.

But despite the potency of external factors, parents should not put too much pressure on their children to develop quickly, says Dr Nguyen Anh Tuyet from Ha Noi�s Pedagogy University.

“Children should be given books suitable with their age so as they can understand what they read.”

But talent should still be nurtured and children with a much higher than average intelligence should be tested to see if they can join Mensa, the international organisation for people with a high IQ, researcher Bui Duy Tao says. The Association for Scientific Development of Human Resources and Talents of Viet Nam recently tested 220 school pupils in Ha Noi and Vung Tau. The test was analysed in Belgium under Mensa standards.

It�s a step in the right direction to support welfare for children with special capabilities. Unfortunately, despite calls from educationalists, the Ministry of Education and Training has yet to draw up policies for especially talented children which could for example, allow students to graduate earlier than their age-group dictates.

In the meantime, it will be left to the communities of child geniuses like Bao to nurture the youngsters� talents in the best way they can.

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