Development of Scissor skills
Scissor skills are an essential aspect of a child’s fine motor development. The practice of using scissors can aid in the development of many skills, some including visual motor integration, bilateral coordination, and hand strength. These skills translate into the ability to perform daily activities, such as buttoning, handwriting, The journey begins with basic snipping and progresses to intricate cutting tasks. Occupational therapists play a crucial role in guiding individuals through these developmental milestones, adapting activities to match each person’s unique abilities and challenges.
As always with any seated fine motor task, it is important to maintain a 90/90/90 seated position. Stabilizing the core will provide more mobility of the hands and arms and allows for a child’s full potential. Below is the approximate timeline for scissor skill development. All children develop at their own pace. If you notice any drastic differences from the timeline, some signs that they may need some extra practice with scissor usage includes if they do not consistently orient their scissors correctly in their hand, if they are unsafe while cutting, if the elbow lifts up and/or the shoulder shrugs as they cut, or if their hand hurts after cutting for a short period of time.
- 1.5 – 2 years: The child will begin to explore scissors and may attempt to open and close then using both hands
- 2.5 – 3 years: The child is able to open and close scissor using their entire hand and begin to make simple snips in paper
- 3 – 3.5 years: The child can make cuts around 6 inch long across paper
- 3.5 – 4 years: The child can cut across straight and curved lines within ¼ inch thick guidelines
- Can cut out circles using the other hand to help
- 4.5 – 5 years: The child can cut out squares and triangles
- 5 – 6 years: The child can cut out a variety of complex shapes
Activities to promote proper scissor usage
- There are a variety of different ways to utilize tongs in a way to promote the skills essential for scissor usage, such as grasp and release, hand eye coordination, and the strengthening of fine motor skills. There are also a variety of tongs that are out there that promote different aspects of the hand. Below are ideas of some of the activities that can be done.
Promoting hand eye coordination:
- Hand eye coordination is a necessary skill in the precision of cutting. If you notice a child has a difficult time cutting on the line, the activities below would be good to address this.
For those who require additional assistance with cutting, adapted scissors exist to adapt the task of cutting to include individuals of all capabilities.
Self opening/loop scissors:
These scissors still allow for the ability to receive the necessary input by closing the scissors, but they have a spring that makes it easier for those with a difficult time opening the scissors back up. Some individuals also have difficulty isolating the fingers to fit them into typical scissors, so these scissors can be used for a variety of different reasons.
Double loop scissors:
These scissors allow for the learning of scissor usage. There are 2 sets of holes, one for the teacher and one for the learner. They provide the learner the feedback needed to practice and learn the cutting motion.
Left handed scissors:
For left handed children who struggle with the use of right handed scissors. These prevent unnecessary bending and tearing of the paper and provide a clear view of the cutting line.
Table Top scissors:
For those with limited mobility, these scissors are a great option to promote independence with cutting. One part of the tool is fastened to the table and the top part is pushed down, which creates the cutting motion.