Stage 1 – Learning to snip
The first scissor skill children need to learn is to make snips with their scissors. It is important that children are taught to hold the scissors and the item they are cutting with their thumbs facing the ceiling. We explore additional tips for holding scissors and cutting here in this post – Scissor Skills – Six Tips for Teaching Children How to Use Scissors.
Straws and thin pieces of paper are great for snipping. Once the child learns to make one snip, the paper can be made wider so they learn to make two. Slowly, they will be able to make three, four and five snips in a row. The ability to continually open and close the hand and moving the scissors forwards is needed before the child can cut along a line.
If the child does not have enough hand strength or control to open and close scissors, but is showing an interest in cutting, spring loaded loop scissors can be a helpful starting point. These allow them to start practising their scissor skills. We recommend the Peta mini easy-grip® scissors for young children. If the child has established hand dominance, or if their hand is too big for these scissors, then the 5cm blade easy-grip® scissors are the next step. Just make sure you choose the correct hand for the child. If you don’t know the difference between left and right handed scissors we recommend you watch the video in this post.
Stage 2 – Cutting lines
The next scissor skill children learn is to cut along straight lines. These are much easier to cut than curved lines as the movement is simple. The child just needs to move their hand forwards and they don’t need to manoeuvre the paper very much.
As their scissor control improves, they learn to cut shapes and curved lines. Initially children will find thicker lines easier to cut on than thin lines. The thickness of the lines can decrease over time and complexity of the shape can increase.
Early on, they will stop and start and move the scissors in and out as they cut shapes. As their scissor control improves, they can continue to cut without having to reposition the scissors. Some children need extra prompts to keep their scissors moving in a continuous motion.