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Cutting is a skill that uses small muscles in the hand. These muscles are the last to be fully developed. However, according to the Early Childhood Continuum by the beginning of preschool a child should be able to use scissors appropriately. By the beginning of Kindergarten your child should be able to cut a circle and square; and by the end he/she should be able to cut any shape. Using scissors doesn't happen naturally. It is necessary to provide opportunities to cut both straight and curvy lines.
1. Buy quality preschool scissors. They need to be sharp enough to cut nicely without becoming a frustration for both you and your child!
2. If your child seems to prefer the left hand, but left-handed scissors
3. Begin by teaching your child to open and close the scissors with both hands, as you would use a hedge trimmer.
4. Practice cutting with play dough, since it doesn't move it is easier to concentrate on the exercise of cutting (see our great tips on play dough)
According to Parents as Teachers, when your child begins to use scissors with one hand it is likely he or she will cut with the back of the hand facing up and thumb facing down. This is the position for holding a pencil. It is a good first step. Allow your child to use a grip that is comfortable. Hold the paper at an angle that allows for success with cutting. As you child's hand becomes stronger, she or he will turn the hand over and hold the scissors correctly.
There are many ways to help your child improve their scissor skills using materials you may already have on hand. Save the magazine subscription cards that seem to always fall out, they are made of cardstock and the thicker weight is stiffer than other paper and easier to cut. Have your child cut out simple pictures previously colored pictures from coloring books. Look through the newspaper after you've read it, as many ads or pictures are in rectangles or squares, perfect simple shapes to practice on. The backing for contact paper often has square grids on it, use a thick marker to draw larger squares for your child to cut out.
If your child is not ready for scissors there are still plenty of activities you can be doing to help prepare them and even after scissors are introduced children can still benefit from the activities suggested at Sensory Processing Disorder. Tearing paper, using tongs and clothespins, and wind up toys to prepare little hands are just some of the suggestions. My Montessori Journey shows a great set up for a cutting center, accompanied by some suggestions for the cut up paper.
Flipflops & Applesauce suggests an activity for recycling expired calendars and practicing the fine art of cutting.Melissa at Chasing Cheerios has her daughter cut paint chips as they are stiffer and the lines are wide. She also has ideas for what to use the pieces for, waste not want not!Katie's Nesting Spot suggests practicing by cutting play doh ropes and drinking straws.
DLTK has practice cutting worksheets you can print out in color or black and white with both straight lines and curves.
If you have any suggestions or have a cutting post on your blog, please leave a comment describing it and/or leave us a link in your comment.
2 pair of Fiskars scissors
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