(NEW YORK) — A California toddler is the youngest American to join Mensa — the oldest IQ society in the world.
Kashe Quest, now 3, joined the American branch of the organization on March 29, 2021, at age 2 with an IQ of 146, making her the youngest American member, Mensa confirmed to ABC News’ Good Morning America.
“By 18 months, she had mastered pretty much the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes … and then that’s when we started noticing this is pretty advanced for her age,” Sukhjit Athwal, Kashe’s mom, told GMA. “So we spoke with the pediatrician and she was like, ‘Just continue documenting."”
With a background in child education, Athwal has learning resources readily available around her family’s home, but never pushed Kashe in any particular direction.
“The way we’ve implemented her learning is we’ve never really forced her to sit down and do anything — it was out of her natural curiosity,” she said.
According to her parents, Kashe memorized the 50 states by shape and location and could name all of the elements on the periodic table by the time she was 2 years old.
“That’s when we were encouraged to explore our options in terms of getting her tested,” Athwal said. “It’s pretty amazing what she’s doing at this point in time and how fast she’s grasping concepts.”
To qualify for Mensa membership, applicants must take an approved intelligence test and score at or above the 98th percentile. Exact details of testing are kept mostly secret, but Athwal said it was age performative and Kashe was continually tested until the materials either became challenging or she failed to determine her score.
“It was working on receptive memory, cognitive skills and logical reasoning,” Athwal said. “It wasn’t necessarily, ‘What color is this?’ It was working on more of what her mental capacity was like.”
Kashe’s parents place high importance on making sure they give their daughter the necessary tools she needs to thrive. To that end, Athwal founded the Modern Schoolhouse for children from 6 weeks to age 5, which opened in October 2020.
The preschool aims to mimic a natural home environment so children feel safe and comfortable while learning in the space, she said. In addition to sensory stimulation and play time, students learn things like Spanish, sign language, how to use various technology and yoga, according to Athwal.
One of the things they’ve learned while raising Kashe, Athwal said, is how to communicate and be intentional with their words effectively.
“Aside from her high IQ, she understands emotion, she understands context and the way we communicate,” she said. “If we say something incorrectly she’ll be like, ‘No that’s not what you said,’ or, ‘That’s not what it is.’ She’s always correcting us.”
While they encourage Kashe’s development and let her set the pace for what she wants to do, her parents also make sure to keep her balanced. Kashe’s interests include Frozen, Paw Patrol, watermelon, swimming, messy paint and science experiments.
“Being a child is most important,” her mom said. “We want to keep her youthful as long as we can. Socialization and her emotional growth are the most important things for us.”
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