Hand separation is a skill children must master in order to use scissors properly. This skill involves using the index, thumb, and middle fingers separately from the ring and pinkie fingers. While using scissors might seem like second nature to you, it is a pretty challenging task for someone with small hands. While a lot toddlers have the skills they need to cut and snip with scissors, it is not until they are about 6 years old that scissor skills tend to be developed. If your toddler or preschooler has shown an interest in scissors, there are things you can do to help.
Choosing the Right Scissors
Scissors are available in so many different sizes. It is important to choose a pair that fits the hands of your child. Scissors with blunt points are best for preschoolers, toddlers, and anyone else who doesn't have experience with scissors. Just make sure you test the scissors out first to ensure they can cut paper. If the blunt point scissors are too dull, they won't be able to cut the paper. They will fold the paper instead, which can be frustrating to someone who is trying to learn how to use scissors for the first time. In this situation, your child may not understand the scissors aren't working right and assume he or she is doing something wrong.
If your child is left-handed, you will need to make sure you purchase left-handed scissors. The upper blades on left-handed scissors will always be on the left side. This makes it easy for children to see the line they are cutting. If your child is left-handed, stay away from ambidextrous scissors. While ambidextrous scissors claim to be for left or right-handed children – the upper blades are always on the right.
If your child is special needs, has a coordination problem, or has weak hands, adaptive scissors may be necessary. Fortunately, a lot of children who fall into this category are able to transition to regular scissors after practicing their scissor skills. Spring scissors are an example of adaptive scissors. The spring allows the scissors to spring back open after they are closed making them perfect for children with limited coordination or strength. Mounted table top scissors, on the other hand, are great for children who only have one functioning hand.
Don't Forget About Scissor Safety
It is critical to take the time to sit down with your child and discuss scissor safety. In fact, the importance of scissor safety should be emphasized at the state of every cutting activity. The two key scissor safety topics you need to cover are 1.)scissors are only for cutting paper and 2.)avoid moving with scissors.
When you tell your child scissors are only for cutting paper, this means they should not cut hair, lips, shirts, crayons, or fingers. In fact, they shouldn't cut anything other than paper. The only exception would be if you were doing an activity and you gave them permission to cut something other than paper. For small children, it is safer and easier to just tell them it isn't paper, they shouldn't cut it.
Discourage your children to walk, run, or move around too much while holding a pair of scissors. This eliminates a lot of potential scissor injuries. Just tell your child he or she should be sitting at the table and paying attention to what he or she is doing any time scissors are being used.