Cutting With Scissors: An Underrated Skill

Parents often look at me like I’m crazy when I ask how their three year old is with a pair of scissors. Totally understandable. But cutting goals are hands down some of my favorite goals to write. There are so many things going on when a child cuts with a pair of scissors. On a small scale, there are fine motor muscles at work. A child needs to have the strength and coordination to make separate movements of both sides of the hand. On a larger scale, a child needs to be able to use one hand for stabilization while using the opposing hand for cutting. A child needs to be able to show adequate visual motor development (*note visual motor means eye hand coordination, and often gets lumped with “fine motor”) in order to cut on a line. A child needs tactile discrimination skills to feel the paper appropriately in the stabilizing hand in order to rotate the paper with his/her fingers. The child also needs to use appropriate force on the scissors as well as proper upright positioning. There is vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile processing all happening in one skill. If your child is not yet ready for cutting, start with tearing small strips of construction paper or tissue paper using a shearing motion. For beginners, have your kids cut play doh or drinking straws. Kids always laugh when the straw pieces pop off and fly across the table. You can string the straw pieces onto a pipe cleaner or make letters or shapes with the pieces of play doh. When transitioning to paper, stiffer paper such as thick construction paper is actually way easier to cut than plain printer paper.

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