Cognitive Development in 10-Year-Old Children

The fascinating expansion of the 10-year-old mind

10 year old child cognitive development - girl with molecule
Ten-year-old children are learning difficult material at a rapid pace. Hero Images/Getty Images

For many children, the development phase around 10 years old is packed with learning and rapid-paced cognitive growth. Learning accelerates significantly in fifth grade as children prepare for the middle-school years. It is in fifth and sixth grade that kids begin to tackle more complicated materials in math, reading and other subjects.

Advances in Cognitive and Language Skills

Parents may notice that around 10 years old, children start thinking and sounding almost “grown-up.” Children this age are on the cusp of adolescence, and have the language skills and cognitive ability to gather information and formulate well-organized opinions and thoughts.

As such, many 10-year-old children can be pleasant company at dinner and at social gatherings, capable of expressing their thoughts on current events, books, music, art and other subjects.

At the same time, they are still young children. They will still need to simply run around and play, and take breaks during the school day. Development at 10 bridges the world of the carefree young child and the older, more mature, thinking and reasoning world of adolescence.

Reading and Writing Skill Development

At this stage, reading skills move toward reading and enjoying more complex and lengthier chapter books. They may learn concepts such as metaphors and similes, and will continue to encounter more difficult vocabulary words. They will be able to analyze stories, offer criticism. Their ability to think logically will become more pronounced. They will be able to write persuasive essays and argue viewpoints and opinions with more confidence and organization.

Math Skills Development

In math, fifth graders can be expected to work with fractions, hone multiplication and division skills, and learn more complex geometry concepts. You can expect your fifth grader to learn concepts such as symmetry of shapes, how to use formulas to calculate the area and volume of shapes, and possibly begin early algebra.

 Your 10-year-old will start to practice more mental math skills, and will be increasingly more able to use logic and abstract thinking to solve verbal math problems. 

Knowledge and Research Skills Development

When studying other subjects, such as history or social studies, 10-year-old children will expand their research skills and use resources such as library books and websites for school projects and presentations. Eager-to-learn fifth graders will delight not only in assembling their research, but will also enjoy crafting their thoughts and having people appreciate their work.

Anxiety over Difficulty in Learning Subjects

As schoolwork becomes more demanding, any difficulty a child may have with reading, math or other subjects will become more apparent. If you spot a problem, such as math anxiety or trouble grasping math concepts, now is the time to step in and help your child work through any hurdles.

Homework will also become more challenging and time-consuming as the class work becomes more difficult, and academic expectations will increase for 10-year-old students.

Your 10-year-old will be transitioning toward greater independence in managing and organizing school work and homework, requiring less supervision from parents.

Reasoning and Concentration

Logical thinking and reasoning will also be a hallmark of 10-year-old child development. Parents can introduce newspapers and magazines geared toward kids at this age and make it a habit to discuss current events during family time, such as at the dinner table.

Parents can also encourage kids to discuss books that they’ve read. At this age, children are hungry for information, and parents and teachers can take this opportunity to encourage and nurture this natural love of learning.

Ten-year-old children are also able to concentrate for prolonged periods of time, and may spend an hour or more concentrating on a task or an interest, such as a favorite book or a game. Parents can take advantage of this increased ability to focus by cultivating any talent or interests, such as for playing a musical instrument.

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