Mum racks brains for ideas

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - East Victoria Park - Michele Nu­gent

THE par­ents of pro­foundly in­tel­li­gent six-yearold twins, one of whom has been regis­tered with Mensa since last July, are at their wits’ end try­ing to pro­vide an in­tel­lec­tu­ally stim­u­lat­ing en­vi­ron­ment to nur­ture their unique abil­i­ties.

Anoushka has an IQ of 154. Her brother Aar­nav is due to be tested by Mensa next month but their par­ents Ma­nee­sha and Vi­neesh Gupta, East Vic­to­ria Park res­i­dents for a decade, are feel­ing the pres­sure and say such gift­ed­ness presents chal­lenges to par­ents, es­pe­cially if they both work full­time.

She said they also felt let down by the pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and although they were grate­ful for the ef­forts made by their lo­cal gov­ern­ment pri­mary school, like her own ef­forts, they were not meet­ing her chil­dren’s spe­cialised needs.

Mrs Gupta said school was like day care for her daugh­ter who had read 200 books - or 260,000 words - in the past two months alone.

In Novem­ber the fam­ily bor­rowed 80 books from the Vic­to­ria Park li­brary and Mrs Gupta said she was there ev­ery day, look­ing for ma­te­ri­als for her chil­dren.

“School is not much of a chal­lenge for Anoushka. The com­puter-based read­ing pro­gram pro­vided by the school for the whole year was com­pleted in one ses­sion, as she could com­plete the top-level quiz with prior read­ing skills,” she said.

“Ditto for math­e­mat­ics. She would re­turn com­plain­ing she learnt noth­ing new and the dis­cus­sion and ac­tiv­i­ties in class were about things she knew since the age of three.

“She is in the top 0.02 per cent of the peer pop­u­la­tion with ad­vanced math­e­mat­ics and lan­guage skills and a very sharp mem­ory, which is un­der utilised.”

Her hus­band’s work takes him over­seas at least half the year and her own full­time work as a con­tract an­a­lyst is also de­mand­ing.

“In my lunch break I am pre­par­ing work sheets for them and then keep­ing them stim­u­lated un­til about 8pm each day. It’s ex­haust­ing.

“I am not a teacher and have no de­sire to home school them but that is what many par­ents of aca­dem­i­cally gifted chil­dren are forced to do in Perth. I want to main­tain my ca­reer but I also think we have to be fi­nan­cially strong to pro­vide for their ed­u­ca­tions.

“We pre­sented the case for ac­cel­er­a­tion to the school, but they pre­ferred to keep her with her age-co­horts and of­fered some part time ac­cess to higher level work­sheets and quizzes, but she was un­able to ben­e­fit from teach­ing at higher grades.”

She said they scoured the in­ter­net for gifted and tal­ented pro­grams in WA but found few, with almost all for older chil­dren.

“The ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment also pro­vides gifted and tal­ented pro­grams but th­ese are for Year 3 and above and there are aca­dem­i­cally se­lec­tive schools but only at high school level.”

Mrs Gupta said her son had also read all the books his sis­ter had and as a pas­sive learner had ab­sorbed ev­ery­thing his sis­ter knew just by ob­ser­va­tion.

She no­ticed Anoushka was very bright when she was about two-and-a-half. “She would be naughty if I didn’t sit and read to her or do maths. She’d get all fid­gety. She needs stim­u­la­tion all the time.”

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey

Smart cook­ies: Twins Aar­nav and Anoushka Gupta (6), of East Vic­to­ria Park.

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