young girl using scissor skills while sitting at desk

Learning to use scissors is one of those activities that can be particularly challenging for little ones. And, honestly, it’s no wonder when you take a look at all of the skills needed to perform what, at first glance, appears to be a simple activity. Lucky for you I have some amazing tips and tricks that I’ve success used for teaching scissors skills throughout my years as a pediatric occupational therapist.

Here are some of the skills that are needed for properly using scissors:

  • Bilateral coordination (using the hands together)
  • Fine motor coordination
  • Hand strength
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Sensory regulation
  • Pacing
  • Core strength
  • Shoulder stability
  • Arm and wrist strength
  • Attending skills

It’s so important to build up these skills before putting scissors in a child’s hand. We so often want to just jump ahead to the cutting part and forget that there’s a foundation that needs to be layed first.

Start with activities like play with play dough or clay, tearing and crumpling paper, stacking blocks, lacing beads, etc. Stick around to the end so that you can grab your Preschool Scissor Activities Pack, which includes a list of pre-scissor activities to give a try.

Scissor Use Milestones

You might be asking yourself…well when should I introduce scissor use to my child? Here’s a typical progression of scissor skills by age through the toddler and preschool years.

scissor skills milestones chart for toddlers and preschoolers

Keep in mind that this is a guideline, and that each kid is individual and will develop their own pace. So, unless your child is significantly delayed or you have additional concerns about other types of skills not be obtained, don’t panic. If you have questions or concerns, talk to your pediatrician and request an evaluation from an occupational therapist.

Scissor Skills Progression

Once you’ve built a strong foundation and ready to introduce scissor skills, don’t expect your kiddo to immediately cut complex shapes. Believe me, I’ve seen this in more preschool classrooms than I can count.

Be aware of the natural progression of scissor skills and meet your child where they are.

  1. Tearing
  2. Snipping
  3. Cutting across a paper
  4. Cutting on a line
  5. Cutting basic shapes
  6. Cutting complex shapes

Remember that it’s a journey, not a race. Let your child work through the stages of using scissors at their pace and give them lots of creative opportunities for practice.

Picking the Right Scissors

pile of scissors

Using the wrong scissors will ensure failure right off. So, choosing a good pair of child’s scissors is important.

The first thing to consider is what hand your child is preferring, even they haven’t yet developed hand dominance fully. There are both right and left handed scissors and some that can be used for both. Be sure to read the fine print on the package.

You can also choose scissors that are adapted when starting. There are some that allow you to help and some that spring back open on their own if that part of the mechanics has not yet been mastered. Shop around to find the pair that works best for your child.

Tip of the Iceberg

What we’ve talked about here is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many tips and tricks to teaching scissor skills that go beyond what I can fit in this one article.

I’ve created a couple of things to take you to the next step. First is this free pack of FREE Scissor Activities that I know you’re going to love.

Videos on Teaching Scissor Skills

Because so many parents and teachers ask me about how to help with teaching scissor skills, I’ve started making some videos on the topic too. You’ll be surprised at some of the simple tips that I use for helping kiddos master this skill. You can find the scissor video series HERE.

Beyond Teaching Scissor Skills 101

Now that you’ve gotten a intro to teaching scissors skills to your child, the next step is to really get into the nitty gritty. In just 7 simple lessons, I can teach you all of my tips and strategies that can take your child from tears to success when using scissors.

Scissor Success course pdf printables

In your corner,

Joy (pediatric OT)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *