Albert Einstein's childhood was normal for the most part; however, he learned to speak at a late age. The young scientist needed a private tutor at age 5 so he could be prepared to enter school. The boy grew up in a middle class, secular Jewish family in Germany.
Later in life, Einstein pointed to a couple of turning points in his childhood. The first was at age 5 when the youngster was given a compass. The boy marveled at how the needle of the object seemed to move without any mechanical means. Einstein also read a geometry book over and over again at age 12.
A turning point in the physicist's teenage years came in 1889. Polish medical student Max Talmud introduced Einstein to concepts such as higher mathematics, philosophy and science. One book encouraged Einstein to imagine what it was like to fly next to a beam of light by using a "thought experiment." These thought experiments broadened the scientist's thinking, which ultimately led him to develop and publish his famous theories.
Einstein's father moved the family to Italy in 1894, leaving his teenage son behind in Munich to finish his studies. Einstein graduated from high school in 1896 at age 17 in Zurich, Switzerland before earning his doctorate in 1905.