Rip, Snip, Cut – Heling young children develop scissor skills
Yes, preschoolers, and toddlers with close supervision, should be using a scissors! Helping children to become independent means helping them master skills and safety rules for using many different tools. This is a key piece of development for school readiness and success, as well as success with real-life tasks.
Just like so many other tasks, learning to use a scissors requires immense amounts of skill development. Children need to have small muscle strength and flexibility, they need to have good eye/hand coordination and visual perception, and they need to be able to focus and concentrate on the task at hand.
Learning to cut starts with the process of ripping, and then moves through snipping, creating a fringe, cutting in a straight line, then zig-zag, curved and intricate lines, and finally precise right angles. At each step, children are developing the fine motor and visual perception skills necessary to be successful.
Here are some tips that will help children master cutting skills.
1. For paper cutting, use high quality, blunt ended safety scissors
• Low quality scissors may not cut well, and can be frustrating for children
2. Help children hold the scissors correctly
• Mark the thumb hole so children know where to place their thumb and fingers
• Teach children to hold the scissors so their thumb is pointed towards the ceiling; you may need to help children position their wrist properly
• Practice opening and closing the scissors, like a fish opening and closing its mouth
3. Start by snipping
• Use playdough and plastic scissors
• Provide straws and strips of paper for children to snip
• Save scrap paper in a box for ‘anytime’ cutting practice
4. Hold the paper correctly
• The paper should be held at a right angle to scissors
• Move paper as cuts as made, not the scissors
5. Cutting on lines
• Start with straight lines, then move on to zig-zag and curved lines
• Trim excess paper occasionally as children cut, this makes it easier for children to hold the paper and cut on the line
Cutting Skill Sequence
1. They show an interest in scissors and cutting
2. They hold the scissors correctly
3. They open and close the scissors in a coordinated manner
4. They snip paper
5. They cut across a paper with 2 or more consecutive snips
6. They cut a piece of paper in half
7. They cut on a straight line, first moving the paper and then moving the scissors instead of the paper
8. They cut around shapes with curves
9. They cut squares, and then complex shapes
Children will be SO proud of their cutting skills. Through allowing them to cut out their own projects, you are nurturing their self-esteem, confidence and telling them you believe in them. Above all, practice makes perfect!