What are the benefits of cutting with scissors for young children?
There are many benefits to cutting with scissors, including:
- Independent movements of each finger
- Strengthens hand muscles
- Bilateral coordination skills (two-handed coordination)
- Visual-motor skills (eye-hand coordination)
- Visual perceptual tasks (directionality)
- Fine motor skills (separation of hand, finger dexterity)
- Promotes grasp pattern
- Focus and attention
Cutting gives young children independent movements of each finger. Cutting with scissors works on the separation of two sides of the hand and strengthens hand muscles. Bilateral coordination is also addressed when they have to hold the scissors in one hand and paper in the other. Often, you will see kids with their elbows all the way out to the side and the scissors upside down when they are cutting. An easy fix for this is to have them hold a piece of paper or a manilla folder between their arm and side to help them to stabilize their arm and bring their shoulder down. Then, they can hold the scissors correctly. The other thing I do is draw eyeballs on the scissors to cue them to the right position. Cutting on a line and switching directions are great visual motor activities. The positioning of the scissors in a child's hand also starts to work on the tripod grasp. It is important to educate your administrators as to why scissors are so important in kindergarten and preschool as it is a precursor for handwriting. Cutting, along with coloring, also helps with focus and attention. If I have a child that does not want to write, I let them do some coloring and cutting activities, and they are able to calm themselves.
This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from a course entitled Developmental Skills for Handwriting, by Dena Bishop, OTR/L.