Scissor cutting should play a big part in preschool and kindergarten activities, because learning how to use scissors correctly can also help with developing pencil control skills.
Cutting with scissors is considered to be a pre-writing skill.
Use the quick links below to jump to answers to your questions on this page.
Have a look at this pic of a mature pencil grip and you can see how these tripod fingers (thumb, index and middle fingers) are working well together to control the pencil.
Children need lots of opportunities to strengthen the hand muscles and practice the dexterity needed for pencil control.
Cutting with a proper scissor grasp, will give the tripod fingers lots of practice in working together, and will help to strengthen your child’s hand muscles.
This will help to improve fine motor skills and will help to give your child the foundations needed to develop pencil control for good handwriting.
Cutting out on a line can also help to strengthen visual-motor skills, which may help improve handwriting.
Because we want the tripod fingers to get lots of practice (in preparation for holding the pencil), the thumb, index and middle fingers need to be through the scissor holes. However, the type and size of the holes affects the exact positioning of the fingers.
Holding the scissors in this way enables the tripod fingers to work together well.
You can help your child keep the ring and little fingers tucked away by holding a little piece of paper under them. Keeping the ring and little fingers tucked away develops "ulnar stability" , which basically gives the side of the hand more stability, which frees the tripod fingers up to move more accurately.
If your child is just learning to cut, or if your child has weak hands and poor fine motor control, then look for scissors that have a large oval hole that the index and middle fingers can both fit through.
But AVOID scissors that make your child use ALL the fingers in the scissor holes!
Read my indepth page about how to hold scissors, for more information on helping your child achieve the correct scissor grip.
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. They are reversed, when compared to the right handed scissors!
There are two huge benefits to the reversed blades on left handed scissors.
So-called "ambidextrous" scissors are NOT left handed scissors at all - they may have more comfortable handles, but the blades are attached as for right handed scissors, and your child will not get the benefit of the reversed blades as described above.
So, if you want to teach your left handed child how to hold scissors correctly, the most important step is that you provide left handed scissors, like these from Fiskars#Ad.
Once your left handed child has left handed scissors, then all the principles of learning scissor skills apply in exactly the same way!
"Cutting out" involves two completely separate skills:
There are many activities and strategies that parents can use, in order to help their child master scissor cutting skills.
You can find out more in my step-by-step pages below:
Does your child need practice cutting on the lines? Head over to my Cutting Activities page to get some free scissor cutting ideas and a free cutting template download!
These printable scissor cutting resources are great for kids who have mastered the basics, but need more cutting practice, with fun end products.
My printable cutting templates are suitable for a range of skills, from beginner cutters just learning to snip, to kids who need more practice cutting out shapes. Includes lovely spiral snakes for left and right handed children!
PFOT stock a range of self opening, adapted and other special resources that are designed to help kids who struggle with scissor cutting. Check out their resources here!
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Mitchell, A. W., Hampton, C., Hanks, M., Miller, C., & Ray, N. (2012). Influence of task and tool characteristics on scissor skills in typical adults. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66, e89–e97. https://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2012.004135
Ratcliffe, I., Concha, M. & Franzsen, D. (2007). Analysis of cutting skills in four and six year olds attending nursery schools in Johannesburg. South African Journal of Occupational Therapy. 37. 4-9.
Ratcliffe, I., Franzsen, D., & Bischof, F. (2010). Development of a scissors skills programme for grade 0 children in South Africa - A pilot study. South African Journal of Occupational Therapy. 41. 24-31.
Smith, Barbara A. MS, OTR/L. From Rattles to Writing – A Parent’s Guide to Hand Skills. 2011. Therapro Inc.
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