The Terrific Tens
Double-digit kids, tens can take on almost anything and love almost every minute of it. It didn’t take me long as a teacher to latch onto the understanding that if you want to teach in “middle childhood,” there is no better age than ten, no better grade than fifth.
Children at ten generally look up to and admire their teachers and parents and actually like to be around them, so enjoy it while it lasts. In this highly relational year, tens still get real pleasure from family outings and teacher-led activities. They equally enjoy the company of their peers in the classroom and engage productively in collaborative, project-based learning. It’s an age for fruitful classroom democracy and inclusion.
Tens love to memorize (note the number of copies of Guinness World Records around) and to collect and organize things. They’re also passionate about digging into online games and multivolume sets of fantasy fiction.
With their receptive antennae and capability for memorizing, most tens can solidify their multiplication tables easily; tackle their spelling and vocabulary with relish; recite oodles of poems, choral readings, and songs; and remember the names of all the presidents or all the lines in a play.
Tens can take on real responsibility for organizing the classroom. Now is the time when the musical instrument, dance class, or martial art becomes something they want to stick with, grow in, and demonstrate proficiency in doing.
There’s little that ten-year-olds don’t love doing. Teachers of tens do well to notice, appreciate, and extend specific recognition for each child’s contribution to the classroom and school communities.