10-year-old Esther Okade is already a freshman in college. Photo by Birmingham Mail.
At 10 years old, most kids spend their free time riding a bike or memorizing “Let It Go” lyrics. But Esther Okade – who, to be fair, does love Frozen — is more interested in writing an algebra workbook for kids and studying for college exams.
Esther, a British-Nigerian home-schooled student, started in January as a freshman at the distance learning college Open University, making her one of the youngest college students in England. “I actually wanted to start when I was seven,” she told CNN. “But my mum was like, ‘you’re too young, calm down.’”
Math is Esther’s strong suit and according to her mother Efe Okade, she’s had an unusual grasp of numbers since she was barely old enough to read. “At four, I started teaching her numbers and the alphabet, then I taught her addition and then she learned subtraction and then she learned multiplication,” Efe tells Yahoo Parenting. “Then one day, as a joke, I said ‘I know what to teach you next, I’ll teach you algebra.’ I wrote my engineering thesis on how to make engineering math easy, so based on those principles I sat Esther down and taught her the basics. And she absolutely got it. She didn’t just get it, she loved it. She asked for more and more. She kept saying, ‘can I have more yummy yummy algebra?’”
Esther Okade is working on writing an algebra workbook for kids. Photo by Newsteam/SWNS Group
By 6, Esther took her first high school qualification exam, which is usually reserved for 16-year-olds. At the time, Efe says finding a school that would let her daughter sit for the test wasn’t easy. “When Esther was 5, I started calling schools and you can imagine the response — people had to remind me that this is a secondary school. A lot of them laughed and put down the phone,” Efe says. “When I was about to give up, at the last school I called, the lady said ‘Wow! I’m so impressed. Bring her in and we’ll take her for the exams.’” Esther passed with a C, but didn’t think that was satisfactory, Efe says. One year later, she aced the test.
Now Esther’s taking college-level math, and recently scored 100% on a test, her mother says. “It’s so interesting. It has the type of maths I love. It’s real maths — theories, complex numbers, all that type of stuff,” Esther told CNN. “I want to (finish the course) in two years. Then I’m going to do my PhD in financial maths when I’m 13. I want to have my own bank by the time I’m 15 because I like numbers and I like people and banking is a great way to help people.”
In the meantime, Esther is drafting a workbook that will help other kids love math as much as she does. “As long as you can add or subtract, you’ll be able to do it,” she said of the book she’s calling Yummy Yummy Algebra. I want to show other children they are special.”
Esther Okade loves math, but she also loves Barbie and Frozen. Photo by Newsteam/SWNS Group
But Esther isn’t all schoolwork all the time. “She is a normal 10-year-old girl,” Efe says. “She loves going to the park and playing with her friends. And she absolutely loves Frozen.”
Isaiah, Esther’s six-year-old brother, plans to take his first college qualifying exam in May. However, Efe doesn’t think her children are doing anything other kids can’t do, too. “There is no child that can’t study math. I don’t believe there is any child who is not a genius,” she says. “Every child has a different learning style, but they all have that genius potential in them. But unless you truly believe in them, you don’t teach them that way. The first thing I do with every child I teach is tell them how special they are, how loved they are, and how brilliant they are. ”