When Jeronnie Richardson was completing his Master’s degree in International Business Management, he had a special calculator to assist with his studies. It was not a fancy piece of equipment that was bought in a store, rather it was his young son, Xylon.
When the five-year-old Kingstown Anglican School student sat for an interview with SEARCHLIGHT, he was glued to a tablet watching a Youtube video on Magnetism, Magnetic Field Force and Electromagnetism and was eager to teach the team about the laws of magnetism.
While the team chatted with his parents about his exceptional abilities, Xylon, who has already declared his intention
to be a Physicist, occupied himself on a whiteboard in the conference room, writing the first 12 perfect squares, pi to 30 decimal places, adding and subtracting four digit numbers, drawing and naming all the planets in the solar system and also sketching the robot that he created for this year’s VINLEC Schools Science Fair.
Jeronnie said Xylon had a fascination with numbers from infancy, revealing that counting was the only thing that could get him to settle as a baby.
“Up to this day when he is frustrated or upset, once you do something with numbers … whatever the problem, it disappears.”
Xylon’s mother, Sheforna Richardson decided to homeschool her son in his early years and was able to see her son’s special abilities with numbers and memory evolve beyond his years. The parents credit his mental gifts to the steady diet of music and reading that he was given in the womb, which also continued after he was born.
They discovered that Xylon could read at age two during a family movie night when he read the subtitles from the television. They tested him further, furnishing him with other reading materials which the toddler devoured in no time. By age three, he was counting up to 5,000, had already learnt all his timetables and could also skip-count in 25’s.
Now in his second year at primary school, Xylon has surpassed his peers, with an evaluation done by the Ministry of Education showing that as a Grade One student, he is reading beyond the Grade Six level.
“On the report card, the teacher wrote ‘he is no doubt gifted’. The Science teacher said there is nothing she can teach him because everything he already knew,” his father said.
As he has conquered most of the concepts taught, Xylon has now graduated to be the unofficial teacher’s assistant who is tasked with helping out his classmates with their work. The parents explain it is a tactic the teachers use to keep Xylon occupied during class, as he often completes the work assigned to him in a short time. His teachers also provide him with more advanced work during class which the numbers whizz welcomes.
While the Richardsons continue to be in awe at their son’s mastery of complex subjects at his tender age, they admit to being concerned that the school system may not be equipped to meet the needs of a gifted child. They said they had tried to get Xylon promoted to a higher grade, but there were concerns raised about potentially limiting his social interaction with his age peers.
Sheforna said she has tried, in vain, to seek an audience with senior officials of the Ministry of Education to have a lesson program done that can challenge her son.
“If he is already ahead academically, I believe he should be skipped, but after the Ministry said that they no longer skip children, it was up to the principals and teachers to evaluate him … it seems like it is impossible at this time.”
She said her fear is that if Xylon is not given learning assistance to match his abilities, he could fall behind academically.
“I think that something should be done. If he continues in the class that he is in, it means that we are limiting him because he already knows what is being taught. We don’t want him to be deterred or fall behind.”
Jeronnie said the hope is that Xylon could be evaluated and admitted to a program or institution that can meet his academic needs.
“It would be awesome if we can get him into a school or program that can really be challenging. I want there to be a [local] school or program because I am positive that he cannot be the only one.”
The family said they will continue to work as a team to challenge Xylon’s mind and keep his ever-growing interests satisfied through online learning and making use of what is available in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The hope is that soon an avenue can become available where Xylon can be schooled in what he loves most- numbers.