Why Teaching Your Child to Use Scissors is Important
There are many children entering schools now who lack many of the fine motor skills that one would have expected them to develop before starting school. Knowing how to use scissors is one of these. It is important that children not only know how to cut using scissors, but also that they have learnt basic safety procedures around scissors as well.
The need to use scissors
Whilst not an essential life skill for survival, not knowing how to use scissors could restrict life activities considerably. At school children will participate in many activities that require using scissors. These range from craft activities to being able to assemble information for special projects they work on. In later years, scissors skills are also important. Children also need to know that scissors are a tool, not a toy and should learn how to use scissors appropriately.
Which scissors to choose
Young children need supervision with scissors at all times. There are many scissors designed especially for the young hand, with blunt rather than sharp points. These usually have a thick plastic coated oval handles, where the holes are of a similar size. There are also scissors manufactured especially for left-handed users. Children's scissors are not expensive to purchase and can be easily found in stores.
Starting to use scissors
Show your child how to grip the scissors properly by placing the thumb and middle two fingers through the handle holes. The index finger should then be placed on the outside of the handle to give more support and the little finger curled up out of the way into the palm. It takes time to learn the skill of cutting. Use thin paper first, simply cutting freehand lines and shapes. As skills improve, try drawing curved lines and more complicated shapes on the paper so your child can learn to change direction while cutting. Cutting pictures out of junk mail and pasting them in a scrap book can be a meaningful way to practice.
Children need to be taught scissors safety from the very first time they uses scissors. It should always be a supervised activity and done while sitting down, preferably at a table or similar surface. Reinforce the fact that scissors are tools, not toys. They should be used for the specific purpose of cutting, nothing else. Children also need to know how to hold scissors when walking. Show them how to hold the pointed end in the palm of their hand with their fingers closed around the point. This way, if they trip and fall, their hand may be hurt slightly, but their eyes and other children are not in danger. Put scissors away in a special place when they are not in use.
Fun ways to practice
Once the skills are learnt, there are many fun ways to practice. Think back to your own childhood and some of the following may come to mind. Try folding paper and cutting shapes to form a snowflake doily or a chain of linked dolls. Cutting and pasting pictures, as mentioned above, is also a fun activity. Recycle boxes and packets by building models. Cut and create colored paper to design cards for special occasions. Encourage these activities by sharing and doing them together.
Confidence at School
Knowing how to cut with scissors and use them safely gives children confidence when they start school and need to participate in classroom cutting activities. Knowing the simple safety rules for scissors is important when learning to follow classroom procedures. Give your child a head start by encouraging them to use scissors under your guidance at home. It is one less thing you will have to worry about when your child makes the transition to school.