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Teaching children to use scissors safely

Teaching Children To Use Scissors Safely and Correctly

When it comes to teaching children arts and crafts, scissors are an important skill. As a parent, you might be working with your child on how to use scissors. This is a skill that requires fine motor skills in order to properly cut paper. In order for a child to use scissors properly, they are going to need to have a certain amount of dexterity in the thumb, index, and middle fingers. They need to be able to separate these three fingers from the other two fingers. This can be challenging for a child with small hands. Around the age of three or four, children can start working on the motor skills they need to effectively cut with scissors. If your child is showing interest in scissors, there are a few strategies that you can follow to help your child learn this important skill.

Teaching children to use scissors safely

Selecting the Right Scissors

Like other arts and crafts equipment, scissors come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Therefore, you need to find a pair of scissors that fits well with your child’s hand. For a child who might not be familiar with scissors just yet, select a pair of scissors that have a blunt point. Then, use the scissors during a “trial” run to ensure the blades will actually cut through the paper. If the blades are too dull, they might simply fold the paper instead of cutting it.

One commonly overlooked point involves left-handed children. The holes of the scissors are going to be different sizes. If your child is left-handed, then you need to have a pair of left-handed scissors. The upper blades on scissors that are truly left-handed are placed on the left side. This allows children to see where they are cutting.

Finally, do not trust scissors that say they are meant for children who are either left or right-handed. The upper blade is still on the right side with these scissors. This makes it hard for children to see the cutting line.

Keep in mind that there are options out there for safety scissors. While these might sound like a good idea in theory, they are often too dull to actually cut anything. This can cause children to get frustrated quickly, causing them to give up or throw a temper tantrum. Therefore, go with a trusted brand that you know is going to do the job. When in doubt, ask a schoolteacher which brand they trust for arts and crafts project. The sharpness of the blade must balance with safety.

Teach Scissor Safety Skills

Speaking of scissor safety, this is something that should always be emphasized whenever it is time for arts and crafts. There are two golden rules that parents need to teach their children when it comes to using scissors safely. They are:

  • Paper Only: Stress to kids that scissors are only meant for paper. They should not be used for anything else. Some of the objects that children often like to cut with scissors include:
    • Hair
    • Fingers
    • Lips
    • Shirts
    • Crayons

Any child that thinks scissors are for these items will lose the privilege to use the scissors until he or she learns that they are only for paper. Kids are curious; however, there need to be boundaries with scissors

  • No Walking Scissors: Children should not move around with the scissors in their hands. If kids feel like they need to take the scissors somewhere, teach them the proper way to hold and walk with them. Close the blades. Grab the blades in a closed hand. Leave the handles exposed. Hold them at the side. This eliminates the risk of children opening and closing the blades as they walk. 

These are the two most important safety tips that children have to learn if they are going to use scissors.

Children's art project

Address Fine Motor Skills

In order for children to learn how to use scissors correctly, there are a few fun activities that can be done to help him or her strengthen the hand. This will improve muscle tone in the fingers, building the coordination skills that are necessary to use scissors properly. Some of the options include:

  • Practice with Tongs: Give your child a pair of tongs. Ask him or her to use the tongs to pick up blocks and stack them. Or, ask him or her to use the tongs to move balls from one container to another. This is great practice for using scissors.
  • Tear Paper: Kids love to break things. Why not paper? Ask your child to tear pieces of paper into increasingly smaller pieces. As the pieces get smaller, the task gets harder. This is part of the fun of this challenge!
  • Bath Toys: Ask your child to squeeze the water out of toys and rags during bath time. This can go a long way toward building the fine motor skills that are necessary for using scissors.
  • Watercolor Painting: Kids love to paint. Why not use watercolor painting skills? In this activity, give your child an eye dropper that is filled with watercolor paint. Ask your child to make a piece of art using this tool!

These are a few key activities that you can use to help your child develop the skills necessary to use scissors properly.

Steps for Scissor Skills

When you think your child is ready to learn how to use scissors, there are a few steps that you and your child need to follow. These include:

  • First, ask your child to position the wrist so the thumb is turned up. The thumb joint should be resting on the inside of the thumb loop of the scissors.
  • Then, ensure the tip of the middle finger is inside of the other loop. In some cases, your child might be able to place both the middle and ring finger in the loop.
  • Next, take the index finger and place it outside of the loop in front of the middle finger. The index finger is going to act as the guide.
  • Curl the other two fingers in the palm (unless the ring finger is in the loop). You might need to show your child how to position these last two fingers.

When your child starts to cut, you might need to guide the hand at first. Like riding a bike, gradually move your hand away and have your child cut on his or her own. The first step is to ask the child to open and close the scissors correctly. Then, place a piece of paper in front of the child and have him or her go to work. As your child gets better, ask him or her to cut in straight lines. Then, progress to shapes such as triangles, circles, squares, and diamonds. This is how kids build dexterity with scissors.

Encourage Safe and Proper Scissor Use

These are a few of the key strategies and points that parents need to know as they are teaching their kids how to use scissors. Safety should always come first when using scissors. As your child gets better, challenge him or her to cut certain shapes! This is a great way for your child to learn an important skill.

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