Tip of the Month: What exactly is the big deal with safety scissors?

It seems counterintuitive to hand a young child a tool that they could hurt themselves with or use to damage items around the house.  While it may be nerve-racking to allow your child to handle scissors, with proper guidance and supervision, scissors activities can become a fun way to make early literacy activities a staple in your household.

There are several types of safety scissors on the market that you can try out with your child.  Most will have a rounded tip with blades that are just sharp enough to cut paper, but not sharp enough to cut skin.  Two brands that have high reviews are Crayola and Westcott.

Research has shown that children should be learning to handle scissors by the age of two to help strengthen and build the fine motor muscles in their hands.  According to occupational therapists, children should roughly follow these benchmarks for scissors skills[1]:

2 years: snip the ends of a piece of paper

2.5 years: cut through a piece of paper

3.0-3.5 years: cut on a ½” darkened line (cannot cut off of the line more than 3 times)

3.5-4.0 years: cut out a circle with darkened lines (has to stay close to the line for ¾ of the circle)

4.5-5.0 years: cut out a square with darkened lines (corners should be sharp)

Scissors help children practice what is known as a tripod grip.  This grip engages the pointer and index fingers along with the thumb.  As children practice this grip, they build the necessary muscle and fine motor control needed for holding and using writing utensils.

Scissors skills are considered an essential skill for kindergarten readiness.  Along with writing, letter recognition and sounds, number recognition and counting, shapes and colors, the use of fine motor skills along with cutting will help your child succeed in their first year in school.

There are several ways to get your child practicing with scissors.  Have children practice snipping play dough or modeling clay to practice their tripod grips before moving on to paper.  Once they are comfortable holding and manipulating scissors, move on to activity pages that encourage cutting through lines.  Make it a fun activity that you do together.  Modeling the tripod grip and correct scissors skills for your child is very important to help them see and understand how scissors are supposed to work.

[1] Wiggins, Kimberly. “Scissors and Your Child.” G&E Therapies. http://www.gandetherapies.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=114&Itemid=175 (accessed January 24, 2017).


For additional information on this topic please reference the following articles:

Scissor Cutting Skills

Developmental Milestone: 13 Ways To Teach Kids How To Use Scissors

Teaching Preschoolers To Use Scissors

5 Easy Ways To Introduce Scissors Skills To Toddlers

Scissors And Your Child

Scissors Skills



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