Using a pair of scissors is a life skill and you’d be amazed at how many children reach the top of primary school without being able to use them accurately, if at all.
Cutting with scissors requires fine motor skills and so children need to have time to master this and this takes practise. In the same way children practise letter formation in handwriting, they need time to practise cutting skills.
You can support your child’s fine motor skills by helping to develop their gross motor skills. A great way to do this is playing with balloons. As well as developing their gross motor skill, it also helps with hand eye coordination which is very important for cutting. Just a simple game of catch or keeping the balloon in the air is fantastic for working on these skills.
The first major issue children have with scissors is how to hold them. Children will try and use two hands like gardening shears and a whole variety of single handed positions. If your child is struggling to remember to keep their thumb on top, don’t worry this is very common. Why not try drawing a little face on their thumb as a reminder?
It is easier to cut simple straight lines so start off with straight line cutting. There are lots of lovely crafts you can do that incorporate cutting straight lines and to give your cutting purpose. Paper lanterns make great decorations for all kinds of occasions and are a great way to practise cutting straight lines.
From straight lines, you can then progress onto simple geometric shapes and teaching children to turn the page as they turn the corner. Children really struggle with coordinating cutting and turning. By starting with simple shapes such as a square and getting progressively harder, they are practising the turning skills needed for cutting circles.
When your child has mastered the basic skills of using their scissors you can help them to refine their skills by setting cutting challenges. You just need to cover a sheet of paper with a range of wiggly and zigzag lines. Pinterest has plenty of free printable scissor skills packs which you can use. Below is an example of a wiggly line challenge I set for 7 and 8 year olds. This was part of a pack that also included zig zags, circles etc.
Children love doing these scissor skills packs as they’re lots of fun to complete and they can easily see their skills improving.
Because they practising their scissor skills, you’ll find that the improvement in their fine motor skills will also have a huge impact on their handwriting too. which is just another reason why we should be getting those scissors out.
Do remember that if you are blessed with a leftie, they really do need left handed scissors. The blades are set differently in them and it sets them up for cutting success rather than instant failure!