The muscles used to cut with scissors are the same ones used for writing. The more children have control of these fine motor skills the easier it will be for them to use a pencil to write with. The earlier children start strengthening these muscles the better off they will be.
Children as young as 2 years old should be working on cutting with scissors. Some parents have a panic attack just thinking about letting their 2 year old use a pair a scissors. If the child is taught how to use scissors in a proper way they will be able to without any problem. Here are some ideas to help you help your child strengthen their hand dexterity.
Before Using Scissors- In order to use scissors correctly the hand needs to open and close in a controlled manor. Games are fun ways to work on these skills. Have the child start out ripping paper. Then use tongs to move blocks or cotton balls from one bowl to another one for more of a challenge. Once they get the hang of that use clothe pins or kitchen clips, squeezing them to put them and putting them on the edge of a coffee can.
Getting Started- Make sure you go over the rules of how to use scissors safely; use only on paper, no walking around with them, only cut when an adult is supervising, etc. Show the child how to hold them the correct way (i e: thumb in one hole and fingers in the other, their hand rotated so their thumb is on top). The scissors that a child starts out with should fit in their hand, be blunt tipped, but they still need to be able to actually cut paper. Plastic safety scissors are hard to cut with and can be very discouraging for children to use if they don’t cut the paper. Make sure you find what works best for you between safety and usefulness.
When children first start cutting, they cut around the outer edge of the paper. As they become more comfortable and skilled encourage them to cut through the paper cutting chunks out of it. Old newspapers or magazines are good for cutting practice. Once they have that down have them try cutting out shapes.
Writing- You need hand strength to be able to hold and use a pencil. The stronger those muscles are the easier it is to be able to manipulate a pencil correctly. Being able to manipulate the pencil easier gives the child the ability to focus more on what they are writing instead of how to hold the pencil.
Little hands can be very active. Giving them a productive outlet for that activity will help them develop skills they need while having fun. Parents.com “Teaching Preschoolers to Use Scissors” gives other ideas of how to help your preschooler learn to use scissors. Just remember every child develops at a different rate. The more practice they have the better they will become. Encourage and challenge the child to keep trying even if they find it a little difficult. Remember learning is fun enjoy teaching your child new things.