4-year-old boy who taught himself to read at 2 joins Mensa UK

Teddy Hobbs' IQ score, which was reported by the Times, places him in the 99.5 percentile for his age.
Deena Theresa
Little child in front of huge blackboard stock photo.
Little child in front of huge blackboard stock photo.

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Teddy Hobbs' mother, Beth, didn't know what to make of her two-year-old toddler when he made sounds while playing on his tablet. Later, the parents realized he was sounding out numerals in Mandarin.

Now four, Teddy, of Portishead, Somerset in England, can count to 100 in six non-native languages and is the UK's youngest member of the high-IQ Mensa society. Mensa is an organization, the largest and oldest high-IQ society, for people who score high on a standardized approved IQ test. Mensa accepts people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on an approved intelligence test.

Teddy taught himself to read while playing on his tablet and watching television, at the tender age of two, during the lockdown.

"He chooses a new topic or something to be interested in every couple of months or so, it seems. Sometimes it’s numbers. It was times tables for a while – that was a very intense period – then countries and maps and learning to count in different languages," Beth told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

4-year-old boy who taught himself to read at 2 joins Mensa UK
Representational picture of a baby working on equations.

Teddy taught himself to read when he was two

"He started tracing the letters, and so when we sent him back to nursery after Covid lockdown, we told them we thought he'd taught himself how to read," she said.

"We had a phone call back from the nursery, who'd sent a preschool teacher to check, who said 'yes, he can read!'" Mrs. Hobbs told Today.

"He was playing on his tablet – we’ve put appropriate games like Thomas the Tank Engine on – and he was sat there … making the sounds I just didn’t recognize, and I asked him what it was, and it was, ‘Oh mummy, I’m counting in Mandarin.’"

According to Mrs. Hobbs, her son's IQ score, which was reported by the Times, places him in the 99.5 percentile for his age.

4-year-old boy who taught himself to read at 2 joins Mensa UK
Representational picture.

The four-year-old is in the 99.5 percentile IQ score for his age

Teddy had taken the hour-long test at the age of three years and seven months old. "I was worried about him being able to sit in front of a laptop for an hour, but he absolutely loved it," his mother said.

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Teddy, however, has no clue that he's part of a high-IQ club.

"Well, he doesn’t know, which is quite nice," Beth told Today. "And we will keep it that way for as long as we can. He’s starting to figure out now that his friends can’t read, and he’s a bit like, ‘why?’. But it’s really important for us to keep him grounded. If he can do these things, fine. But he sees it as just ‘OK, well, I can read, but my friend can run faster than me.' We’ve all got our individual talents."

"And we will be trying to maintain that as long as possible. If he goes to school and decides that’s it, he’s finished his education, fine," she added.