Is it really necessary to use left handed scissors for kids who are lefties? How important is it that lefties cut with their left hands? My short answer: very important!
When left handed children use their right hand to cut with scissors, or when they use their left hand to cut with right handed scissors, they are losing out on some very important opportunities to strengthen their hand preference and develop good fine motor skills.
This page seeks to explain these issues and hopefully answer some of the questions that parents and teachers have!
Children need lots of opportunities to strengthen the
hand muscles and practice the finger movements needed to control a pencil for handwriting.
When your child holds scissors with a proper grasp, the tripod fingers (thumb, index and middle fingers) need to work together to open and close the scissors. These are the fingers that will be holding and controlling a pencil.
In addition, the repeated opening and closing of the scissors help to strengthen your child's hand muscles, which helps to build endurance of fine motor tasks, particularly handwriting.
Cutting out on a line can also help to strengthen visual-motor skills, which may help improve handwriting.
So, as you can see, if a left handed child is using the right hand for scissor cutting tasks, the left hand is not getting enough fine motor practice, and therefore pencil control and handwriting may be affected.
A left handed child who uses the right hand for scissor cutting is missing out on strengthening and refining the muscles of the left hand in preparation for handwriting.
One of the biggest tasks that children need to master in the early years of school, is handwriting. Even in this age of devices and screens, writing remains an important skill to learn.
Because handwriting is such a challenging task, the more "ready" or specialized a child's hand is, the more readily they will be able to focus on learning to actually write, because their chosen hand is ready to control the pencil.
When your child can easily control a pencil with a consistently preferred hand, your child will be more able to write efficiently and effectively, and to pay more attention to thinking about what to write.
The problem that occupational therapists often see, is that when left handed children have been using their right hand for scissor cutting tasks, the left hand might not be strongly specialized, and is thus less ready to master pencil control for handwriting.
Giving your left handed child lots of opportunity to cut with the left hand, will help develop stronger left hand specialization, which can free the brain up for other cognitive tasks.
A left handed child who uses the right hand for scissor cutting is at risk for not developing a strongly specialized left hand, which may slow him/her down in classroom tasks.
Read more about hand preference / hand dominance here.
Hopefully I have now convinced you that left handed children need to be cutting with their left hands, but what about the actual scissors?
Why can't we just encourage kids to cut with their left hand, using any scissors?
To answer that question, we need to take a look at some actual scissors.
If you look at the pictures of scissors below, the left handed scissors are on the left of each photo. Take a close look at how the blades are attached.
The blades of the left handed scissors are reversed, when compared to the right handed scissors!
There are two huge benefits to the reversed blades on left handed scissors.
True left handed scissors for kids will have the blades in a reversed position when compared to right handed scissors. This reduces the frustration that many lefties experience when they are using right handed scissors in the left hand.
When your left handed child uses left handed scissors for the first time, you may need to help him/her learn how to cut on the line again! If they have been using right handed scissors in the left hand, they were probably holding the scissors and the paper awkwardly to be able to view the blades on the line.
So take some time to show how they can hold the paper more naturally, and be able to follow the cutting motion more easily with left handed scissors!
A left handed child who uses right handed scissors in the left hand may end up holding the paper or the scissors awkwardly in order to see the line properly, and this may result in unnecessary frustration and untidy cutting.
When switching to left handed scissors, take some time to help your child adjust the way they hold the scissors and paper, to get a more natural cutting motion.
So-called "ambidextrous" scissors are NOT left handed scissors at all. Many companies advertise their scissors as being "suitable for right and left hand users", "for right or left hand use" but it is all simply clever marketing.
The rationale behind the marketing is that the handles have been shaped in such a way that they are comfortable for use in either hand.
HOWEVER, because the blades are still attached in the regular way (for right handed users), they are not actually suitable for left handed kids to use in their left hands. Your child will not get the benefit of the reversed blades as described above
So, do yourself a favor and check the blades of the "left" scissors against the "right" scissors - if they are fixed the same way, they are not true left handed scissors for kids to build their scissor skills.
Whether you have a left-handed child who is just learning scissor cutting, or you need to help a lefty learn how to cut with left-handed scissors, it can really help to go back to basics.
The principles of how to hold scissors, and how to cut along the line, and how to cut out shapes, all apply in exactly the same way when using left handed scissors for kids who are left handed.
You can browse through all my scissor cutting pages or you can get all the information and printables you need for the price of a couple of coffees!
My 33 page Scissor Skills E-book will help answer your questions, and will give you step by step photographed activities and tips
You can use this resource to help your child master scissor skills, all the way from novice cutters, to kids who need help refining their skills.
My Fun Cutting Printable Pack gives you 19 different scissor cutting templates to 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!
If you are looking for true left handed scissors for kids in your home or class, then I have linked to a few on Amazon for your convenience. These are similar to ones I use myself.
(I may receive a small commission if you purchase something through these links, which helps support this site. However, you are under no obligation to purchase anything!)
Lefty's True Left-Handed Scissors#Ad
Blunt-nosed, suitable for younger children
Fiskars Left-Handed Scissors#Ad
Sharper nose, suitable for more experienced kids
Now that you have left handed scissors for your child, help them master scissor cutting with the information in the articles below!
I hope that some of your questions about the importance of left handed scissors for kids who are left handed, were answered on this page!
I am passionate about the importance of helping kids learn to cut with scissors as a foundation for fine motor skills, and I hope this page has helped you!
PS Do you have teenagers or colleagues who are lefties? Then check out this article on Quill... Some great ideas to make their lives a little easier...
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