Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – Nothing is different from Nicolas Saktika Hidayah compared to his other peers.
As a 9-year-old boy, Nicolas, as he is usually called, sometimes likes to tease his sister Adeeva Izma Hidayah, who is seven years away from him, or grab the dishes that his parents serve to the guests at home.
Sometimes Nicolas also ignored people who called him as he was playing with toys.
This kid looks ‘special’ when he talks.
Even though he was born in Bogor district, West Java province, from a couple of Miftah Hidayah whose parents are mixed Jakartan and Sundanese, and Erna Sumardiana whose parents are Acehnese, Nicolas speaks English fluently.
The mother said that Nicolas’ ability to speak English began when her third son was two years old when the first time he started learning to talk.
“His first words were mommy-daddy, although we teach children to call mama-papa (Indonesian words to call father and mother),” she said, adding that none of Nicolas’ family members or close relatives taught him to call his parents mommy and daddy.
Furthermore, Nicolas feels more fluent and comfortable in speaking English, as if this foreign language is his mother tongue, while Indonesian is his second language.
“He can immediately get close to new friends if they can chat together in English. On the other hand, if they can’t respond Nicolas in English, he will not talk much and will not be close,” explained the mother.
However, Nicolas’ parents always tried to get their son to speak Indonesian at every occasion.
“But sometimes we have to adjust as well, especially when we are giving advice or explaining about something important to Nicolas. We have to use English so that he can immediately understand,” the mother said.
Therefore, all family members at home, including employees who help Nicolas’ parents’ business, were ‘forced’ to learn English in order to communicate with him.
Until now, Miftah and Erna cannot confirm any reason why their son is fluent in English from a very early age, without having been taught using special methods.
“We consider this a gift from Allah (ﷻ). Alhamdulillah,” said the mother, while revealing that the prodigy like what Nicolas has does not appear to his elder sisters and younger sister.
Besides speaking fluently in English, Nicolas also has extensive knowledge about many things, as he is able to think critically more than his peers. He is not shy or discomfited to express his opinion even though it is different from those of most people.
Nicolas’ characters, which were noticeable at the age of 4, often make his parents ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘awkward’.
“We once travelled from Egypt to Palestine for seven hours. During that trip Nicolas was never silent. He talked on and on about different topics. So, I had to wake up to chat with him,” said the father, who is the owner and creator of a brain supplement, Vitabrain.
During his stay in Palestine with his parents, Nicolas kept asking why there were more Israeli soldiers in this country.
According to Miftah, her son learns from things that are found around him, and if he is interested in something, he immediately wants to know more. Reading books or surfing in cyberspace is Nicolas’ way of quenching his ‘thirst’ for knowledge.
As a result, even though he never studies biology in school, Nicolas understand and is able to tell what he had read and heard about spiders, or the life in the sea and the kinds of fish that live in it.
He even has his own views on the ongoing pandemic. Facts and data about how the virus firstly emerged in China’s Wuhan; why the most cases of COVID-19 infections were found in the United States; and how people should deal with this pandemic, were presented as smoothly as someone who has read hundreds of scientific articles.
With intelligence above the average, Miftah and Erna have enrolled Nicolas in several international schools that use English as the medium language.
Nicolas has also studied at a school for children with specialities, Cugenang Gifted School in Cianjur district, West Java province.
However, the teachers in all those formal educational institutions gave up to teach Nicolas as his distinctive characteristics are different from those of his peers.
Finally, since entering formal school age, Nicolas has undergone home schooling, just like his two elder sisters who are now teenagers.
Home schooling is preferred because, according to Miftah, there is no limit to space and time to satisfy children’s curiosity about anything. They are also free to explore various interesting things and hone their skills according to their respective talents and interests without any academic burden, such as achieving graduation targets or competing for the highest score.
Hence, Nicolas is not only fond of learning what he likes, but also likes to play with imaginary toys that he makes from makeshift materials that can be found at home, such as used papers and cardboards.
Adjusting to today’s all-digital era, Nicolas also likes to create animated characters via computers.
“This is a map of the space ship that I made in my computer. And these are the characters. One of them could be the imposters, so the other ones should figure it out and kill it before it kills them,” Nicolas said.
Nicolas said that he made a plan of a spaceship in which there were a number of crew members. One of them was a criminal, so the crew had to find out who the con man was and had to get rid of him immediately.
The animated game, he said, was made with coding technology that he is currently learning by watching videos on YouTube.
Nicolas’s critical and logical thinking skills continue to develop along with his empathy for others.
Assisted by two of his elder siblings, Anais Maryam Hidayah and Moza Ramya Hidayah, Nicolas shares his knowledge of English through his YouTube channel, Nicolas Time, which has more than 2,300 subscribers with 119 videos.
Later when he grows up, Nicolas admitted that he would become a game animator or a game programmer.
Reporting by Indonesia Window