Aavyn Eliseus Ng, at just two years and nine months, has earned a place in the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) for recognising 40 flags within 60 seconds.
The toddler holds the title "Most International Flags Identified By A Toddler In 1 Minute". He completed the feat on Aug 3 at MBR’s headquarters in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. For the task, the MBR team shuffled a pack of flag flashcards, showed it to him and he successfully named the flags within the time frame.
Aavyn's mother Erica Ng Joe Yin, 33, said her son was two years and four months when he was first exposed to the Jalur Gemilang, followed by India’s national flag.
"After noticing that Aavyn could recognise the Indian flag, I tried to introduce him to a few more flags. Surprisingly, he could remember them very quickly. At home, while Aavyn’s great-grandfather was watching international badminton tournaments on TV, there were times he’d name the flags on the TV screen.
"Everyone was astonished and praised him tremendously. I think that motivated him and helped to build his interest in flags," said Ng in a phone interview from Sungai Long, Kajang, Selangor recently.
The businesswoman spent four months training her son to recognise flags from 40 countries in under one minute.
"I bought a pack of flag flashcards, and each day, I'd read through the cards with him and his twin sister, Aaryn Eliseus Ng.
"Along the way, I’d introduce more flags to him. Two weeks before the record attempt, I stopped introducing new flags to him and focused on the speed. During that period, I quizzed him three times each day, approximately 10 minutes each time.
"While Aavyn loves to say flag names out loud, Aaryn loves to point at countries on the world map," said Ng.
As some flags have long names, Ng said that her son found it challenging to memorise them. Therefore, she incorporated some playful and interactive methods to enhance her son’s memory power.
"For example, the flag of Brunei has two hands facing sideways. I used my hands to cover my face, playfully saying 'peek-a-boo' before mentioning Brunei. Another example is Antigua and Barbuda, where the sun is incorporated in the flag. I taught him that during sunrise, ants will go marching one by one. From there, I got him to remember Antigua and Barbuda.
"He is a very smart boy who learns things quickly. Credit should be given to him because he is willing to explore and learn new things. As for me, I merely introduced the flags and treated it as a playtime activity with him," said Ng, adding that besides memorising flags, her son also enjoys drawing and cycling on his tricycle.
However, she admits that getting her son to retain the information came with some challenges.
"There were times when Aavyn became cranky, bored, or playful. Occasionally, he'd deliberately name a flag incorrectly as a signal that he wanted to stop," she said.
As of now, Aavyn has memorised 139 flags.
On Aug 28, Ng and her son met Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh at Menara KBS in Putrajaya.
Yeoh commented on her Facebook on Sept 2: "Meet Aavyn Eliseus Ng, the two-year-old toddler who made a name for himself in the Malaysia Book of Records for identifying the most international flags in one minute as a toddler. Aavyn can easily identify and spell out all 13 states and three federal territories of Malaysia correctly too. Such an impressive fast learner!"