Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My 3 Year-Old Should Use Scissors? Say What?

We talk to countless parents that are surprised their child should be using scissors by age three. We get it. Age three seems really young to be playing with scissors, right? This question often comes up because a question on the 36 month Ages & Stages Questionnaire asks if a child can use scissors. So why are scissors so important for your child’s development? I asked one of our child development specialists, and got her advice on scissor activities for toddlers.

Using scissors:
  • strengthens your child’s hand muscles so he can grip items, such as a toothbrush, spoon, crayon, and even pants to pull them up on a daily basis.
  • improves the proper pencil grasp that leads to good handwriting.
  • improves fine motor skills and enhances a child’s hand-eye coordination. A child must be able to move his hand while he is looking at something, such as zipping his coat, using a spoon, and catching or throwing a ball.
  • enhances your child's ability to use both sides of his body at the same time. For example, he can hold a paper with one hand and use the other hand to open and close the scissors. This skill is also used to zip a coat, wash dishes, and put toothpaste on his toothbrush. 

Children are able to cut through thicker paper easier than thin paper. If you’re just getting started, it may be fun to let your child cut through playdough or narrow strips of paper. He will have a blast!

Using scissors to cut through thin cardboard, construction paper, and regular paper are also great options! Switch it up by using different materials such as shredded paper strips, craft foam, drinking straws, tissue paper, and even cooked spaghetti noodles! 

Here are a few other tips to support your child as he uses scissors: 

  • Help your child use the scissors with his thumb in the small hole and his fingers in the larger hole.
  • Think of scissors as a crocodile taking large snaps at the paper and then moving forward to take his next bite.
  • Find images with thick lines for your child to cut along. Your child will be able to cut along thinner lines as his skill increases.
  • Encourage left-handed children to cut around shapes in a clockwise direction while right-handed children should cut in a counter-clockwise direction.

If your child is struggling, encourage him to use a pair of tongs and pick up objects throughout the house. Tongs use a similar motion as scissors. Other pre-scissor activities include playing with squirt bottles, cutting playdough with a plastic knife, and threading yarn through holes. 

If you haven’t had a chance to let your child try scissors, now is a great time! Be creative and have fun!! Only use child-safe scissors and supervise your child at all times. Keep scissors in a safe place when not in use. Who knows, this may even prevent the dreaded “haircut” as well!  

Check out our Pinterest board for fabulous scissor activities. Do you have any favorite scissor activities? Let us know in the comments!

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