Fine Motor Skills: Teaching Kids to Use Scissors

Learning to cut using scissors develops your child’s fine motor skills and coordination. Because they are developing muscles they haven’t used in this way before, it requires lots and lots of practice. Be patient and encouraging as you help them learn to use scissors.

Developing Fine Motor Skills with Scissors

Pre-kindergarten is the time to build basic skills- mental and physical. These basic skills are essential because they form the foundation upon which all the rest of your child’s education and development is built on. Using scissors is a mental and physical activity that helps bridge the two and develop strength and coordination. Use the following guide to get started:

Strengthen hands and fingers

First, it’s important to build the muscles in your child’s hands and fingers. Choose some fun activities that focus on squeezing their hands and using their fingers. It will also begin to build their coordination. Activities could include playing with a top, using salad tongs to pick things up, playing with water squirt toys, playing with finger puppets, and tearing paper into pieces. You’re building their dexterity and fine motor skills.

Increase hand-eye coordination

Cutting with scissors gives your child the opportunity to use both hands together while tracking with their eyes. Activities to build their skills prior to cutting include tearing paper into small pieces, throwing and catching a ball, puzzles, and playing with Legos.

Develop bilateral coordination

Bilateral coordination refers to using both sides of your body simultaneously while your hands are doing different things. This is developed while using scissors. Your child will have to hold the paper with one hand while cutting with scissors with the other, perhaps while following a line. Activities you can do with your child to develop bilateral coordination include punching holes in index cards and placing clothespins around a paper plate.    `

Choose optimal scissors

Try to match the size of the scissors as close to your child’s hand size as possible. Choose scissors with a blunt point, but that are sharp enough to cut and not merely fold the paper.

Safety first

Communicate and demonstrate scissor safety often while working with young children. You may feel like you’re being repetitive, but that’s okay because they need it. Begin with the basics such as the purpose of scissors. Scissors are for cutting paper and nothing else. They cannot use scissors without an adult until you feel they’re ready. NEVER walk with scissors in your hand.

Time to start cutting

When you feel like your kid’s hand and finger strength and coordination have improved sufficiently, it’s time to bring in the scissors. Teach your child to hold the scissors correctly. Help them understand which fingers go in which loops of the scissors handles. (Alternatively, you can wrap electrical tape around the thumb hole, so they’ll know where to put their thumb.) Remind them to keep their thumb facing up. Begin by simply snipping things- paper, straws, erasers, etc. When you’re confident they have that down, teach them to cut along lines on paper, then curves and zigzags.

Building Life Skills One Day at a Time

Your child is learning and growing left and right during these years. They learn a lot through play and repetition. They’re developing mentally and physically and need lots and lots of practice, patience, and encouragement. Help your child develop their fine motor skills by teaching them to safely use scissors.

Woodlands TreeHouse Preschool is dedicated to helping your child build critical life skills for success in school and life. Contact Us to learn more about our unique approach and fun learning environment.