If your child is struggling to cut along the line, then use the guidelines and activities on this page to help your child to master this important skill!
Learning to snip is a vital pre-skill for cutting, and I cover it in Part 1 of How to Use Scissors: Mastering the Grasp-Release Motion. If your child is not yet able to snip well, hop over there and read those tips first!
I also cover the correct scissor grip on that page.
Learning to cut along the line is a tricky task.
It involves bilateral coordination between the hand holding the scissors and the hand holding the paper.
Your child needs to visually focus on the line in order to guide the hands, and also needs to plan how to get the scissors in and out of corners.
This page addresses these issues:
Now that your child has mastered the grasp-release motion and can snip with scissors, there are a few tips that can help your child learn to cut along the line effectively and efficiently!
Please read all the tips BEFORE you begin!
Encourage your child to hold the paper off the table with the assistant hand.
Thumb on top and fingers underneath is the best position for the assistant hand AND the cutting hand - ask your child to give you "two thumbs up!" before starting with the cutting task, to remind him/her to keep the thumbs on top.
Discourage your child from holding the paper down on the table.
Kids with poor bilateral coordination often prefer to hold the paper down on the table, because the assistant hand can't coordinate properly with the cutting hand.
Encourage your child to start cutting along the line furthest from the holding hand.
Younger children often cope better with half sheets of paper.
This will encourage more efficient cutting.
I like to use thin cardstock when teaching kids to cut along the line. This is less floppy than normal paper and is easier for kids to handle. If you don't have thin cardstock, stick two regular sheets of paper together.
Wider lines can help young children to learn to cut along the line. I like to tell them that the thick black line is a road and they need to drive the scissors along the road like a car. If they go off the road, they might knock down a pedestrian :-) .
As the child masters scissor cutting, you can use lines which are narrower, but the "driving the car" principle still applies!
Cutting around shapes in the correct direction will help your child to get the blade of the scissors to stay on the line more effectively and should help your child to cut more smoothly.
Right-handers should cut to the right of the shape, and left-handers should cut to the left of the shape.
This enables them to more clearly see the blade to ensure they can cut along the line.
In the developmental stages of cutting, children need to first learn to cut on straight lines before progressing to simple shapes.
Start by having your child snip along very short lines, then progress to cutting along slightly longer lines.
The activities shown here can be found in my Fun Cutting Templates e-book, but it is really easy to just draw the short lines on a paper plate or scrap paper.
When I am teaching a child to cut along the line, we practice over and over again with LOTS of lines.
You can color the lines in to make it more interesting, or have your child practice handwriting patterns on the lines before cutting out.
Now use the lines to make all sorts of fun creations, like paper chains, a jellyfish, an octopus... view some ideas over at my cutting activities page.
Cutting out lots of circles and spirals will help your child to get the hang of smoothly moving the paper with the assistant hand while cutting.
I find it really helped to sit behind my child and hand-over-hand help them to get the feel of the smooth movement of turning the paper around while cutting along the line.
Remember, right-handers should cut to the right of the circle, and left-handers should cut to the left of the circle.
Once your child has got the hang of turning the paper while cutting, then progress to simple shapes.
Your child needs to learn to gauge when to "turn" the corners, and how to keep the scissors in the corner while turning.
Again, cut lots and lots of shapes, be creative with them and use them with lines and circles to make fun crafts.
Or try my Fun Cutting Templates download for a large variety of cutting printables, including spiral snakes for left- and right-handed children!
Starting with simple snipping activities, the templates will enable your child to learn to cut on straight lines and then to cut out shapes. All the activities are photographed so you and your child can see what you are working towards!
Sometimes kids can take a little while to learn how to cut along the line. Sometimes they just need to practice one of the underlying skills, like working on hand strength, or on eye-hand coordination.
Below, I have linked to various pages on my site that deal with some of the foundation skills that can help kids learn to cut better.
These are only suggestions to help you guide your child through the developmental stages of cutting. If you are at all concerned about your child's progress, please get an occupational therapy evaluation.
If your child's hands tire easily, work on strengthening the hand muscles with these simple activities.
If your child struggles to coordinate holding the paper and cutting at the same time, then try some bilateral coordination activities.
You can also try some hand-eye coordination activities to help the eyes focus on the blade and the line and guide the hands in keeping the blade on the line.
If your child's eyes are watering during scissor cutting activities, or if your child keeps looking sideways at the paper or closing one eye, PLEASE ask a pediatric or behavioral optometrist to check your child's eyes. This is very important!
If you want to know more about how to help your child establish a strong foundation for all fine motor skills, then read this page.
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