our everyday life

Cognitive Development Milestones of a Ten-Year-Old

by Cara Batema, studioD

The age of 10 years is a period of transition for some children, as it marks a pre-teen period in which interest in sexuality develops as well as a strong desire to be considered “good” by both parents and friends. Developmental milestones provide a guideline for what concepts or skills children should accomplish by a given age, but some children might be ahead or behind these suggestions. Cognitively, most children are at about the same level, and failing to meet some of these goals might be an indication of a hearing or learning disorder.

Basic Cognitive Skills

By age 10, children know the months of the year in order and can recite the entire date, including the day of the week and month as well as the year. Ten-year-olds can also read paragraphs of complex sentences and gain understanding from the reading, so chapter books are ideal for them. Children at age 10 can listen to and follow a series of five directions in a row. They can also write in cursive and complete addition and subtraction mathematics equations; they learn skills in fractions, multiplication and division during this time.


Ten-year-olds are focused on achievement, and they like to be praised for doing good work in school or for chores. They are often eager to master new skills and feel a sense of pride when they learn something new, but they might also become frustrated or concerned if they can’t do something a peer is able to do. They learn responsibility for taking schoolwork home and completing it on time, and they enjoy applying concepts or skills they learn at school. Children at this age enjoy reading and have speech patterns at nearly an adult level, notes WebMD.


The transition period around age 10 involves moving towards more abstract thinking. Children at this age begin to learn how to hypothesize or infer information based on what concrete ideas were given. While they are just developing these means of reasoning, they often revert back to concrete thinking during times of stress. They are successful at answering who, what, where and when questions but might struggle with why questions.


Also around this age, children start to open up their worldview and see things beyond their own personal experiences. They might imagine what it’s like in another person’s shoes. Going hand in hand with their development of abstract thinking, 10-year-old children also begin to see things beyond the black-and-white or right-versus-wrong perspective, and they might realize some “rules” are negotiable or hold less weight than other directions.

About the Author

Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages, Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images