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What are the Benefits of Cutting with Scissors for Young Children?

Dena Bishop, OTR/L

April 17, 2018

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Question

What are the benefits of cutting with scissors for young children?

Answer

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 elbow 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 help 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.


dena bishop

Dena Bishop, OTR/L

Dena Bishop, OTR/L is a veteran pediatric occupational therapist specializing in school-based therapy for students with multiple diagnoses including ASD, ADHD, CP, and DD. She earned her B.S degree in OT from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Her 17 years of experience have granted her significant knowledge from the vast number of therapists she has collaborated with and the resources she has collected and implemented over the years. Dena has spent her entire career engaging and empowering students from 18 months through 21 years of age with diverse cultures while working in schools in OH, PA, CA, HI, and FL. She has academia experience as an adjunct professor for the OTA program at Polk State College in Winter Haven, FL. Her passion for OT and growth mindset continually challenges her to excel in her field.


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