Believe it or not, children are able to learn to use scissors right around age 2. By about 24 months of age a child should be able to make snips with scissors. Of course this is only true if they have been practicing.
Many parents are afraid to introduce scissors. Common concerns I hear are that they are afraid they will hurt themselves or cut things they shouldn’t.
We all know someone whose child gave themselves a nice little haircut with scissors they found, so it is understandable to be worried! Of course, scissor activities should always be supervised with young kids and they should be kept hidden away when not being used.
Why You Should Introduce Scissors Early
I totally understand these concerns, but exposing your child to scissors early on is important. If they practice snipping at age 2, they will likely be able to cut on a line by age 3 and cut out a simple shape by age 4.
By practicing this sequence early on, they will have great scissors skills by the time they go to kindergarten. Developing scissor skills before starting school is important.
You probably practice learning colors, numbers, letters, counting, and drawing shapes before sending your kid off to kindergarten. Using scissors is just one more school readiness skill you should practice!
Skills to Practice Before Using Scissors
Cutting with scissors requires bilateral coordination, which means both sides of the body work together for this task. Practicing other bilateral skills can help get your child ready for using scissors.
Bilateral coordination activity ideas:
- Beading activities
- Melissa & Doug sells a great option, but you can also just have your child string cheerios on a pipe cleaner or yarn!
- Pulling apart and putting together connecting blocks, such as Mega Blocks or Duplo Legos.
- Large pop beads, such as these transportation vehicles are another fun option.
How to Introduce Scissors
Look for scissors that are called “safety scissors” or “blunt scissors” which have a rounded tip, like this option. Metal scissors really do work best although I know they can be scary for parents. The all plastic scissors just do not cut very well and it can frustrate the child more than anything.
Another option to start with is Playdoh scissors to cut playdoh. You can roll the playdoh into a long snake shape and have your child snip pieces off.
It is much easier for a child to learn to close the scissors than to open them. If they are struggling with learning to open the scissors, some helpful strategies include:
- Try using training scissors that have a spring to open the scissors when the child loosens their grasp after closing them to cut.
- Find special training scissors that have extra loops for parent fingers such as these Mother and Child Scissors from Wescott or this option from School Smart. This allows for a lot of support if your child needs it.
- Use Handy Scoopers to transfer small objects from one container to another. They require the same movement pattern as scissors, but provide extra feedback when opening them (the object will come out!).
- Use oversized kids tweezers or training chopsticks (which can sometimes be found at dollar stores!) to pick up poms or other small objects.
- Use a single hole punch to punch holes in paper.
Progression of Scissor Skills
- At first your child will just be able to make small snips. I like to start but cutting an index card or construction paper to get a 1/2″ tall strip that is a few inches wide. You can sit behind your child and use hand over hand assistance to help them hold onto the paper and cover their fingers to prevent them from cutting themselves. You may need to remind your child to keep the thumb facing up.
- Once they can snip well with scissors, I like to draw short lines on that 1/2″ paper strip and encourage them to snip on the line.
- Next your child will learn to cut forward with scissors across a paper and then on a straight line.
- Finally they will learn to cut out basic shapes like a circle and square.
Simple Scissor Activity Ideas
- One easy activity is to either is to start with a simple template or draw a basic picture (an apple, a pumpkin, a flower, etc). Have your child cut the 1/2″ paper strip then glue the small squares to the template. DLTK Kids is my go to for printing free simple templates and simple scissor skills worksheets.
- Another simple activity is to have your child cut out memory cards from a template (like this one also from DLTK). They can then color the pictures and play the game. Sometimes adding an end goal can increase motivation.
- Teachers Pay Teachers is a great resource for worksheets and they have many available for free.
- Pinterest is another great place to find creative ideas and free printables. Check out my Scissor Skills board on Pinterest for ideas!
I hope that this article helped to increase your confidence and motivation for giving scissors a try with your child! I know it can be scary at first, but before you know it they will be a pro!
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