Mumsnet Logo
My feed

to access all these features


To wonder about how clever my child will be

136 replies

Whatdoyouthink86 · 07/04/2021 17:31

So I love my 3yo DS very dearly and he is a fascinating child. I know this might seem like a ridiculous question but I was wondering - those of you with "clever" grown up children - when did they turn out to be "clever"?

I know full well that being clever isn't that important and that there are many many other predictors of happiness and success in life. We will be proud of him no matter what. I am just curious really.

Me and his dad did very well at school and have successful careers. Early on, he doesn't seem to be ahead of his peers in many things. He's behind in a few. No developmental red flags. Could he be a late developer, or is this likely representative of his general ability?

It doesn't matter either way. I know plenty of people will jump to have a go at me but it's just a straightforward curious question.

OP posts:

TheMarzipanDildo · 07/04/2021 17:37

I think cleverness is relative and not remotely straightforward. Most people are ‘good’ at some things and ‘bad’ at others. Also, I know people who really struggled at school but come across as very intellectually curious and wise as adults.


ShirleyPhallus · 07/04/2021 17:40

Children start developing with things they’re interested in, rather than it being a signal of intelligence

So I have no idea, but would be interested to hear actual experiences of those with grown up children


ThornAmongstRoses · 07/04/2021 17:42

My eldest son is clever and I knew from a young age that he would be. He knew his alphabet shortly after his second birthday and before he was three he could recite it backwards without even having to think about it. He’s 7 now and does maths work for 11-12 year olds and has a reading age of 10-11. It’s all very natural with him, he learns quickly and nothing is a struggle. It’s all so effortless for him.

I’ve also got a 3.5 year old who doesn’t have any of the high levels of abilities that my other son had at this age, but he’s absolutely amazing in lots of other ways.

Some kids are very bright, some are age appropriate and others may struggle....but they’re all still bloody brilliant Grin


AmyLou100 · 07/04/2021 17:55

My dh is exceptionally intelligent. Finished school, university always the top student. Career wise, he has again done extremely well. FIL is also a very intelligent man. My ds 5yo is definitely like them. I have no doubt about that.


Griselda1 · 07/04/2021 18:02

I notice that my boys developed totally differently in an educational way than my very academic girls did.They were extremely average or less but developed key subjects and have really excelled.The girls were good performers across everything whilst the boys ditched languages and other subjects they didn't like as quickly as they could.
I think the basics of doing lots of reading and activities are key to success. With one of my boys that meant sourcing lots of fire engine books as that's all he was interested in.


AmIaboringfart · 07/04/2021 18:02

I have a 6 year old so not quite the age you're asking.

She's considered "academically delayed" as in she is behind in every subject at school, some more behind than others - below expectations in every subject. I'd say she's below average intelligence.

But she is good at somethings, she's a good friend and she's a model pupil at school even with her struggles, she goes back to have another go when she hasn't quite understood something. This is far more important than were she is academically. Grades and exams can be done/earned at anytime, the ability to make friends and be a friend stays with you through life.

And for that I am so proud of her. I don't care about her academic performance, at all. She's never got star of the week, or a headteachers mention but she quietly gets on with it.


Apileofballyhoo · 07/04/2021 18:05

My very academically able brother was speaking in full sentences before 18 months, and had a wide vocabulary from an early age. My DM was very worried about my next oldest sibling being behind with speech until she realised DB was exceptionally early. DB's eldest child was the same as him. Also academically very able. So that might be an indication for one kind of intelligence anyway.


Neolara · 07/04/2021 18:06

I was pretty confident my DD was very bright despite lots of evidence to the contrary when she was little. She didn't talk early. She only learned to read in year 2 and was pretty much in all the low attaining tables up to that point. She spent a lot of time sucking her thumb and generally not paying a huge amount of attention to her teachers. I'm sure she wouldn't have got into any of the local selective private schools in Reception. However, she did exceptionally well in her GCSEs last year at a bog standard comp and is thinking now about applying to Oxbridge.

I think at 3 is quite early to tell a child's academic ability.


Sunhoop · 07/04/2021 18:08

Mine are young but my eldest has been clever from the start. Everyone comments on it but I thought it was just something everyone says to be nice, until I had my second DC who is fabulous but miles behind compared to her older sister at that age.

I don't think it's necessarily an indicator of how they'll turn out though. My eldest is academic but the younger is emotionally intelligent and very charming, sometimes that helps you go further as an adult.

I was very average at school, quite lazy and bored with it all quite young, with the exception of English (an avid reader). I found my passion when I went to university, ended up doing very well, got to PhD level and went on to have professional success. It's all relative really!


lifeturnsonadime · 07/04/2021 18:08

My son is cognitively top 3% on intelligence assessments. Will struggle to pass GCSEs though because he's on the spectrum with pda traits and 'you can lead a horse to water but can't make it drink' springs to mind.

At the age of 6 he was the top of the class by age 9 he couldn't cope.

There are much more important things than base intelligence. The people who get on best in life are those who have a good work ethic and are prepared to graft. You can try to instil those skills but they are fairly innate.

It is also important to have good interpersonal skills to have the ability to be a listener and be a friend. To be able to say no. etc.


MsTSwift · 07/04/2021 18:10

Sometimes it’s an adjustment to accept your child may not be quite as clever as you think they are 😁


1Morewineplease · 07/04/2021 18:15

My son struggled somewhat, slower to read, never read the question, went off at a tangent. Seemed to get Bs when his peers got As etc... If you see what I mean.
Always an 'also ran.'
Now a Masters student doing exceptionally well.


Conqueso · 07/04/2021 18:17

I think it’s more important to expose your child to a wide range of experiences more than worry about how clever they will be. Take them on trips, museums, art galleries, science fairs, history sites. They will come away much more well rounded.


BrieAndChilli · 07/04/2021 18:17

Everyone is so different it’s hard to compare!!

DS1 didn’t utter a single word not even mum or dad until he was 2.5, was farting to get a bit worrying. However once he did start to talk we realised he could read fluently and when he started school at 4 his reading age was assessed as 14+ and he had always excelled at school, teachers are always praising his ability. On the other hand he started walking at 9 months old but he still has no sporting ability or interest! Has always been clumsy etc and has hyper mobility. If you looked at him as a toddler you would think he would have turned out the opposite of how he has!
DD on the other hand was and still is a non stop talker, she is clever but normal clever not outstanding like DS1 but she has so many other skills that he doesn’t have and are probably more important in being successful in life such out the box thinking, social skills, common sense, problem solving, empathy, people skills, crafty/arty, coordinated etc.
We also have DS2 who had ear problems as a baby/toddler and at one point moderate hearing loss so he was very behind with talking and that impacted his reading etc. He has caught up now but he has good engineer/building skills

In my experience extremely intelligent people often don’t do as well as adults. They either crash and burn from too much early pressure, or as things come so easily during skill they never build up the resilience from failing or learn to put effort in to something so are quick to give up, or they have no people skills etc so don’t move up the ladder as quickly as they should do in fact the most successful managers etc seem to be those who can work the game and not necessarily that are the most intelligent/able


Iamnotminterested · 07/04/2021 18:21

I think the key thing is finding something that they are interested in and can fly with. My eldest DD is at university studying English literature, and I'd say her passion in this area started at about age 14; the middle one is a natural linguist and the youngest is a good all-rounder in top sets.

The thing we've done with all of them is taken the time to read and talk, encourage their interests and expose them to foreign travel and museums etc from a young age.


EssentialHummus · 07/04/2021 18:23

I’m interested in this. I have a 3.5 yo who seems to be well ahead of where we’d expect - reading fluently in two languages with different alphabets is the main thing. I wonder what it’ll mean long term, if anything.


GrimDamnFanjo · 07/04/2021 18:28


I have a 6 year old so not quite the age you're asking.

She's considered "academically delayed" as in she is behind in every subject at school, some more behind than others - below expectations in every subject. I'd say she's below average intelligence.

But she is good at somethings, she's a good friend and she's a model pupil at school even with her struggles, she goes back to have another go when she hasn't quite understood something. This is far more important than were she is academically. Grades and exams can be done/earned at anytime, the ability to make friends and be a friend stays with you through life.

And for that I am so proud of her. I don't care about her academic performance, at all. She's never got star of the week, or a headteachers mention but she quietly gets on with it.

This is a great post.

ilovebagpuss · 07/04/2021 18:31

My DD was bright and interested in everything from an early age. She walked and talked early and just constantly surprised us. I used to have some word flip cards very basic things that came in some book set and she would get them and make me do them over and over until she knew all the words. She seemed to always be a step ahead.
She’s very bright academically now as a teen.


HeadNorth · 07/04/2021 18:40

I think it becomes apparent in primary school. I could tell my eldest was academically able then and her younger sister also- but the wee one always applied herself less, it was discipline as well as intelligence that made my oldest excel and that attitude to learning was apparent at primary school.

My wee one has a friend who was always the cleverest at primary and that continued through secondary - she is now at Cambridge.

One of my nieces is wonderful and clever and not academic and again that was apparent at primary school, when she was put in remedial groups. It doesn't mean she is stupid, she is very emotionally intelligent, but not academic and certainly not able to go to University.

So I think in the primary years, aged around 8, academic aptitude, attitude and ability generally become apparent.


Insomnia5 · 07/04/2021 18:40

I’ve noticed it can start with a love of reading. My children are absolute bookworms, they spend hours reading every day so are constantly soaking up new information. Whilst one of my dc is clearly exceptionally intelligent, I do wonder if the other two would do anywhere as well in an official IQ test. I wonder what people would consider to be an intelligent child without knowing their IQ, as the two I’m referring to are very well spoken with a lot of knowledge due to the books they get through, people automatically assume them very intelligent due to the vocabulary they use, but are no way as advanced at problem solving as my other one.


LimeFizz · 07/04/2021 18:40

One of mine was always bright, always in top 3 of the class really, from about 6/7?

He did well academically and now works for a top city firm.

I'm a teacher and you can spot the clever ones but loads of them are lazy, lack self motivation or something so it really comes down to personality once it gets towards exam time.


Roussette · 07/04/2021 18:46

I have adult DCs. One of them I just sort of knew she was clever. She read two really difficult words on something in the house one day and I was taken aback because she was tiny and nly reading. She was always up a year in school, but only because she got a bit bored.

However, I never pushed her at all, she decided how much she wanted to apply herself to acadamia. Yes she went to a red brick Uni ,did really well and has a great career earning lots.. She could do far more with this, but doesn't want to, her work life balance is so so important to her and more meaningful to her is her partner and her friends who mean the world to her. Being clever is all a bit irrelevant because happiness is what matters. So it really isn't that important.


funtimefrank · 07/04/2021 18:51

I am also interested in this as I come from an academic family but dh doesn't.

Dd2 has always been very alert. Very early walker and excellent comprehension from very young. Asked lots of questions. But on the slower end to speak then had a stammer which the speech therapist said was due to her brain working faster than her mouth.

She has always been at the top end of her class. She's year 6 now and I saw a definite drop over lockdown as she needs to be pro actively taught to engage her. Her teacher has seen an improvement already though. So ability always there but needs to be nurtured.

Dd1 is a much less extreme child (they are twins). She was early to average walker and talker. She's been 'fine', 'top end of average', solid. A solid b student.

In lockdown she has flown in some subjects (English much to my delight as that's 'my' subject). She has really engaged and is doing really well - better than pre lockdown. I'm thrilled at her work ethic and tenacity and hard bloody work.

So throughout their existence so far I have a tortoise and a hare. I suspect the tortoise will find life easier.


Darbs76 · 07/04/2021 18:54

I have 3 children, 27, 16 and 13 and all are clever but my middle child is exceptionally clever, 9 x 9’s at GCSE and looking at applying for Oxford. We actually thought the teacher was joking year 4 parents evenings when we sat down and she said ‘D is a genius’. Because he’s one of those people who are very clever but seem to lack in common sense sometimes! So I guess year 4 we were told but hadn’t noticed it, but gradually he got more and more praise but it was secondary that they really began to say how clever he was.


TheKeatingFive · 07/04/2021 19:05

I’m not sure this question is helpful OP.

There are all kinds of clever, many different forms of success and everyone develops at their own rate.

The only thing I would say is nurture his interests. Whatever they turn out to be.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?