When you see Caleb Anderson, you’d think he’s your typical 12-year-old who loves watching Netflix, playing Beyblades, and collecting action figures. But once you really get to know him, you’ll learn he’s far from ordinary.
Unlike most kids his age, Caleb is already attending college as a sophomore, he’s studying calculus, U.S. history, humanities, and macroeconomics.
He dreams of becoming an aerospace engineer one day.
“I’m fascinated that there’s another world beyond ours. There’s another place. There’s a better place,” Caleb told NPR. “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.”
Claire, Caleb’s mother, first spotted her son’s exceptional abilities when he began mimicking her speech when he was only four weeks old. At nine months, he could sign over 250 words in American Sign Language. He could also read words he’d never seen before.
“I was getting my master’s in education so I knew that there was something special about that,” she said.
By the time he was 2 years old, Caleb is already doing fractions. At 3 years old, he passed the first grade. Aside from English, the lad also learned Spanish, French, and Mandarin.
He also became the youngest African American boy to join the MENSA, a society of people with exceptionally IQs, at just 5 years old – though he already qualified when he was 3.
When the time came for him to attend middle school, Claire and her husband, Kobi, knew their son could have skipped it altogether, but they wanted him to develop his social skills. So, they enrolled him in the seventh grade when he was 9 years old.
Those years were tough for Caleb.
“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,’” he said.
Now, the boy is attending college and getting a dual program at Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta, Georgia, to earn his associate degree while getting his high school credits. He said it’s not his end goal to go to college; his end goal is to become who he wants to be.
Kobi, an IT salesman, serves as Caleb’s chaperone on campus. However, he acknowledges that Kobi has excelled way past the point where he can still help him with his homework.
Although they can’t help him with his studies, Claire and Kobi are keen on teaching him about different yet equally important aspects of life. They teach him about compassion, kindness, and looking for the good in others.
Caleb is happy now that he’s attending college and is in a place where he feels like he truly belongs.
“It’s really accepting,” he said. “People might think something about it, but they don’t show it which is really nice.”
Turns out, the smarts really run in the family. The Andersons have two younger children—Aaron, 8, and Hannah, 7—who are enrolled in the gifted program at their school.
Of the bunch, Caleb is the verbally gifted one. Aaron, on the other hand, is good with numbers, while Hannah excels at puzzles.
When asked what advice he could give to other parents, Kobi said parents should help further their children’s academic growth in the same way they would celebrate athletic achievements.
“My wife frequently says ‘raise the child you have not the child that you want,’” he said. “You’ve got to nurture what nature gives you.”
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