Three months ago, student Siddhar Kanagarajah, five, earned a spot in the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) for accurately identifying the most number of dinosaur species (80) in under 60 seconds.
Recently, the gifted child from Kuala Lumpur bagged another achievement; he entered India's Lincoln Book of Records (LBR) for being the youngest child in the world to explain the most number of human body systems (anatomy and physiology).
"I am happy, excited and blessed to have gained entry into LBR. I am interested in memorising human anatomy because it's the best way for me to understand what is happening in my body," said Siddhar in an email interview.
The Year One international school student completed the feat virtually on June 19. He covered 17 topics (11 central human body systems, five sensory organs and the human cell structure) in under 25 minutes.
Siddhar took 10 days to memorise, practise and present the topics. His mother, homemaker Komathi Subermaniam, 33, paid a fee to participate in the LBR, a Chennai-based organisation that identifies and promotes the talents of individuals.
“On attempt day, there were a few adjudicators from Malaysia and also panel members from India who watched Siddhar’s presentation via Zoom.
One of the panel members, a medical doctor, commented she was speechless when she witnessed Siddhar's talent. She also said he did an outstanding job, looking like a little professor explaining the human body systems non-stop,” Komathi said.
Siddhar started reading when he was three but his mother exposed him to early literacy when he was just six months old.
"I started with the Montessori method (hands-on learning) and noticed his ability to grasp things quickly. Then, when he was two years old, he developed an interest in dinosaurs, so my husband and I bought dinosaur toys and books and fed him information on the pre-historic creatures."
Siddhar, who wants to be a palaeontologist or a businessman, like his father, said, "My mummy says I could pronounce 'tyrannosaurus rex', 'therizinosaurus', 'giganotosaurus' and 'brachiosaurus' when I was just two years old."
Realising her eldest child's potential, Komathi – a former physiotherapist – decided to introduce him to medical terms. The outcome was extraordinary, as he could name different bone structures after a few repetitions.
"He is a curious child. He constantly questions the human body, including why people fall sick, how wounds heal and why humans need oxygen to breathe. Since Siddhar is interested in the human body, teaching him the basics of anatomy and physiology was easy.
"In between, I also taught him about astronomy, mathematics, science, geography and general knowledge. His enthusiasm and eagerness to learn new things is amazing. He has a good photographic memory too," said the mother of three.
Komathi encourages parents to actively support their children to develop their potential to the fullest.
"A child's cognitive development starts at an early age. They can absorb and process information quickly (when exposed to) suitable teaching methods. In addition, parents' involvement, especially outside the classroom, can create a more positive experience for children.
"Parents should also spend more time with their kids to ensure they can blossom into happy children. As parents, don't compare your children with others or force them to do things they dislike. Always find interesting ways to bring out the best in them," she said.