A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Child Genius is an intelligence competition modeled after the British version of the same name. Twenty gifted kids age 8 to 12 years old vie for scholarship money through multiple rounds that quiz their mastery of literature, science, history, spelling, math, and logic, among other topics. The stress of the contest often pushes kids to their emotional limits, so you'll see some kids show frustration or cry over losing. Parents, too, handle the situation in different ways; some encourage their kids to enjoy the experience while others put further pressure on them to focus more and study harder, which causes tension. That said, the content is fine for families, and older kids and parents may enjoy pitting their knowledge against that of these remarkable young geniuses.
What's the story?
Twenty 8- to 12-year-olds face off in a high-stakes intelligence challenge for the chance to win a $100,000 scholarship in CHILD GENIUS. Facilitated by former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin and created in cooperation with Mensa, the multi-tiered contest quizzes contestants' knowledge in subjects such as geography, spelling, and math, as well as their mastery of memory skills and logic. Participants accumulate points based on the number of questions they answer correctly, and those with the lowest scores at the end of each round are eliminated from the competition.
Is it any good?
Child Genius evolves similarly to many other reality contests, juxtaposing contestant interviews with fly-on-the-wall footage of the kids and their families before, during, and after each aspect of the competition. There's something addictive about it, partly because of the kids' unbelievable mental prowess and partly due to the families' unique dynamics. And there's always the promise of high drama. Let's face it: If you put 20 of the country's most intelligent kids and their equally invested parents shoulder to shoulder in one room, it's going to be intense.
There are some pretty decent lessons families can take away from this intriguing show. For all their enviable IQs, these kids certainly aren't perfect, and it's somewhat relieving to see evidence of this, both from a parent's and from a child's point of view. The contestants also exercise different strategies throughout the contest, playing to their strengths while acknowledging their weaknesses to compete effectively. Finally there's the toughest lesson of all -- winning or losing with grace -- which isn't always easy when you're used to being the best. The bottom line? Younger kids won't get the draw and the quizzes will be above them, but families with older kids may enjoy watching these impressive kids in action.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the contestants and their parents relate. Do the parents act differently with the kids because of their unique abilities? When siblings are in the picture, how are their relationships with the parents different from that of the contestant's? Is this fair or necessary?
To what degree do your kids feel pressure to succeed in school? In social relationships? In extracurricular activities? What would they say is a parent's role in helping them succeed? How do they respond to excessive pressure?
What are the benefits of competition? What can you learn from testing your abilities against someone else's? Can anything good come of losing a contest?
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