Parents share formula behind son’s math prowess

Parents who want their wards to perform as well as Henry Oghenetejiri Esemitodje can as well learn a thing or two from them on how to raise brilliant kids.

The 11-year old Primary Six pupil of Mind Builders School, Ikeja, Lagos was honoured at the school’s Omole Annex last Wednesday for winning the 2021 The Ultimate Mathematics Ambassador (TUMA), which had a cash prize of N500,000 and medal for the champion, a cash reward for the teacher, and a trophy for the school.

The contest is organised yearly by the Ambassadors School, Ota which is renowned for grooming pupils who excel in national and international competitions and examinations like Cowbellpedia, Interswitch Spak, International Mathematics Olympiads, Cambridge IGSE, A-Levels, among others.  In the 2020 TUMA, Oghenetejiri came third in the competition before lifting the winner’s trophy this year.

At last week’s celebration, Oghenetejiri’s parents, who are pharmacists, said their home has been set up to support excellent academic performance for all their three children.

Mr. Igho Esemitodje said preparation for the competition included helping Oghenetejiri improve in his areas of strength.

“He reviewed his performance last year and he knew his strengths – he was very good in terms of formulas, writing, and theories.  He worked so much on that aspect. In one of competitions he was the only one that got all the questions correctly – about 150 over 150. So those were some of his strengths.  He focussed on that and believed in himself, and worked tirelessly,” he said.

The father also credited his wife, Evumena, for committing time to supporting the boy, his elder brother, who is also an outstanding maths wiz kid, and his twin sister.

“It has been due to lot of hard work in part of the child and there has been a lot of dedication on the part of the mother in contributing to his success. She has sacrificed a lot to ensure that the child follows up with his studies,” he said.

Sharing her formula for raising brilliant children, Mrs. Esemitodje said she created a routine for her children that excluded a lot of TV and included a lot of reading.

“I would advise parents to have goals for their children.  Sometimes, I have noticed that kids actually model after parents.  I personally don’t watch too much TV and I also read a lot; his dad also reads too; so they also read too.  Since we have our own routine, they just copy them and created their routine from part of what we do.  Now, if they have work, they will not watch TV even if it is on,” she said.

Mrs. Esemitodje also said she taught her children to aim for 100 per cent and not just like some parts of their school work.

“I always teach them to be their best and when they were younger I made sure that we prepared for every question, encouraging them to learn every part of what they are learning completely rather that pick and choose land say ‘okay I like this part; I don’t like that part’, or ‘this one is easy, this one is hard’. I just make them learn every part – easy or hard – and they should be aim for 100 percent. So when they come home sometimes and I ask them ‘how was your exam?’ and they say it was a bit hard, and I ask ‘how many didn’t you know?’ and they say, ‘just one’, I am like, ‘okay don’t worry, you did very well.’”

With very few children reading up to primary six (many schools exit children in Primary Five) and leaving primary school as early as eight, nine years old, at 11, Oghenetejiri is one of the oldest in his class. However, his parents said this was a deliberate policy to help all their children mature adequately to face the challenges of secondary school.

Mr. Esemitodje said the policy was paying off for his children who are doing far better than their younger and rushed peers.

“That is one of the things we decided as parents.  First of all, most people forget that there is a correlation between age and development of a child.  We told ourselves that there is no need to rush.  The standard age for entry into primary school is from five or six years.  He has been the best student from primary one to five.  Most of his mates left.  The parents said if those ones can leave he that is the best supposed to be the first to leave.  We said no; that we want him to do primary six. One, it takes a lot of psychological maturity and two academics.  Some of these exam, those that compete, of course one may do well at nine years or 10 years.  But it takes more maturity to be able to understand, retain and solve these things.

“We have seen this before.  In little or no time they fizzle out so that is one of the things we said no there is no point to hurry.  If he finishes at 11, plus six years for secondary school, he finishes 18 (in time) for the university.  So why the hurry?”

Mind Builders Education Director, Mrs. Bolajoko Falore, was ecstatic about Oghenetejiri’s feat – a first for the school in TUMA.

“We have been taking part in the competition for a while but this is the first time we are winning. We focused on this competition and took our teachers on courses in the subject and that paid off.  I commend Henry for making the school proud. It shows the core values for excellence of the school,” she said.

Mrs. Falore also praised the boy’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Igho Esemitodje, for their commitment to their son’s education.


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