Cutting with scissors is fun for many children. Below is a step by step guide to scissor development and some activities to help your child use scissors independently.
THE STEPS OF SCISSOR-SKILL DEVELOPMENT
· Child tears paper in play
· Child shows an interest in scissors
· Child understands that scissors are used to cut paper
· Child is able to hold scissors (incorrect hand placement)
· Child is able to maintain a correct grip on scissors when positioned by an adult
· Child is able to hold scissors in a correct grip without assistance
· Child begins to open and close scissors
· Child is able to open and close scissors using a controlled action (precision of grip begins to develop)
· Child is able to hold paper and make small and random snips
· Child is able to make consecutive cuts with a forward motion of the scissors, tearing the paper
· Child is able to make consecutive cuts with a forward motion of the scissors, without tearing the paper
· Child is able to cut straight lines forward across a page, while moving the helper hand forward (moving the paper with the scissors as in raising the shoulders/extending the elbows)
· Child is able to cut straight lines forward without experiencing forward movement of the helper hand
· Child is able to cut simple curves and angled lines (one direction change) without moving the assisting hand on the paper to re-position
· Child is able to cut simple curves and angled lines (one direction change) while moving the assisting hand on the paper to re-position
· Child is able to cut out simple lines with more than one direction change
· Child is able to cut circles
· Child is able to cut complicated shapes with straight and curved lines
Tips for helping kids learn to snip with scissors:
1. Provide opportunities to engage with items that require an open/close motion of the hand. Think about it — the “open/close” or “squeeze/release” movement pattern is the foundation of operating scissors. This could include playing with items such salad/serving tong or squirt bottles.
2. Provide opportunities for tearing paper. This may sound weird, but paper tearing is actually considered an important pre-scissor skill!
3. Place scissors in a “thumbs up” position from the very beginning. This means the thumb is in the little hole and is on top when cutting, rather than twisting the forearm inward and snipping with the thumb on the bottom.
4. Try using a visual cue to help the child understand proper hand positioning. If the child struggles with placing their thumb up when holding the scissors, you can place a sticker on their thumbnail or draw a little happy face on it. You can also place a little sticker on top of the thumb hole of the scissors.
5. Use hand-over-hand assistance if needed when getting started. Opening scissors may be more challenging for beginners than closing them, especially if the scissors are too big for their hands or they have weakness. They may need help opening them each time when starting out. If you help kids get their scissors into the open position over the play dough, they can then close the scissors independently and gain a sense of accomplishment by cutting the play dough “all by themselves”. How exciting for them!
6. Try spring-loaded scissors if opening regular scissors creates too great a challenge or too much frustration. It can be nice to have some springy assistance when starting out (you can sometimes find them at the dollar store if you’re lucky!).
7. Start out by snipping play dough.