Children love scissors. However the skills required to use them are not completely developed till they are around six-years-old, though even a three or four-year-old can have developed some ability to snip and cut. This is because proper use of scissors requires adequate finger manipulation – the ability to use the thumb separated from the first two fingers and apart from the ring finger and little finger.
There are various methods that help to develop this skill.
Use fun activities to develop finger coordination before introducing scissors. These enable proper hand eye coordination which is crucial while cutting. Another skill that is developed through cutting is bilateral coordination, which involves using both sides of the body simultaneously as each hand performs a different task.
Child safe scissors are a must since they are blunt-nosed to prevent injuries as children learn to manipulate them. Plastic scissors that can be used play dough are also a great way to introduce this movement.
There are also various activities that help prepare a child for the skills required to learn cutting.
- Pick up and string some large beads on a rope.
- Use paper punchers to punch holes in paper.
- Create fun activities using a dropper, spray bottle or squirt bottles.
- Use kitchen tongs to pick up balls of play dough or cotton from one place to the other.
- Tear paper using the fingers of both hands.
- Put clothes pegs on bits of paper and hang them on a rope.
- Play with toys that encourage use of fingers like picking up things and putting in different baskets or spinning and rotation.
Steps to begin cutting
Once a child displays enough muscle strength, coordination and ability to handle a pair of scissors, start by encouraging snipping.
- Ensure you have right handed scissors for right handed children and left handed scissors for left handed.
- Teach proper handling – the thumb should be on top and inserted into the thumb loop and the index finger should be inserted in the right side loop on the scissor handle. Some scissors have a place for the first two fingers.
- Encourage the child to use the scissors in the “thumbs up” position with the thumb always pointing towards the sky as this ensures better control. Children who automatically do this, learn faster.
- Always insist on children holding the scissors properly in order to gain full control and make the task easier.
- Start with slightly thicker paper as it is easier to hold and cut for beginners.
- It helps if the child can see the paper clearly so they can be encouraged to hold it above eye level while cutting.
- Start by snipping straws or small strips of paper into cubes.
- Cut or chomp soft food items.
- Simple tasks that encourage small cuts help them progress to cutting along a line to eventually cut out different shapes and patterns.
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