- One and a half years old - Linguistic skill and vocabulary on par with that of an adult's (called a "noisy chatterbox" by her parents and told sharply that little girls should be "seen and not heard").
- Three years old - As evidence of extreme intelligence, Matilda demonstrates amateur reading skills.
- Four years old - As proof of extreme intelligence, Matilda soon develops reading skills on par with that of an adult's book.
Powers and abilities
Besides being very smart for her age, Matilda has extraordinary powers. Although never mentioned in the book or movie, the name of the ability Matilda has is called telekinesis, and seems to peak whenever something angers Matilda.
It's first discovered when the glass from which Miss Trunchbull drinks tips over and a newt (which Lavender caught in the school garden and placed in the water pitcher) jumps onto Miss Trunchbull's shirt. The Trunchbull, who tends to speculate with no backup evidence, accuses Matilda of running out and tipping the glass over when she wasn't moving. When Matilda says that she didn't do it, a verbal argument between Matilda and Miss Trunchbull ensues, which lasts for about a minute. Miss Trunchbull ends the argument by telling Matilda to sit down and be quiet.
At home, Matilda practices using her powers with a cigar, learning fine control of her abilities. The last time that Matilda uses her powers is when she writes quite cheekily on the chalkboard while posing as the ghost of Miss Honey's father, ending Miss Trunchbull's reign over the school.
In the film, she ends up also using her powers before she knew she had them, such as causing the television to explode when her father was forcing her to watch it, and making some food that was falling land perfectly on her plate.
While the use of her powers in the novel was limited to an object that she was directly concentrating on, she uses the powers when she needs them in order to help someone or teach them a lesson. In the film, it isn't mentioned if her powers have limitations. (Although her powers are somewhat similiar to Magneto from X-Men, he is using magnetic fields or manipulating them to move objects, while it's unknown how Matilda does it.) However, in the end of the movie, she was able to move a book and start a car without any problems. It is possible that if she had plenty of practice, she could be able to move larger objects.
In the musical, Matilda possesses a psychic connection with Miss Honey, having visions of Miss Honey's life with herself in Miss Honey's shoes. Matilda also possesses psychometry (the ability to gain memories by touching objects).
Matilda is shown to be a kind and caring girl who loves her friends. She is very polite, but does become a bit scared when it comes to Miss Trunchbull (which she overcomes later on). She loves Miss Honey more than her parents and her brother Michael. She is also shown to be trustworthy, as seen when she does not reveal that it was her friend Lavender who put the newt (which Miss Trunchbull calls a "snake") in the water pitcher, and Lavender thanks her for that.
She is also seen taking good care of things; this is seen when her dad destroys the book she borrowed from the library. She desperately attempts to stop him by saying it's not hers, but despite her great effort, it is still destroyed.
In the musical, she has a strong sense of justice and believes in taking action.
She is the first child to encourage Bruce Bogtrotter to finish eating the chocolate cake.