Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday Teachings - Scissor Proficiency

It is hard to decide when a child is ready to use a pair of scissors as children all develop at a different rate. Watch your child closely and if they seem interested, you can try using safety scissors with them. If your child is not ready, here are some great suggestions to get them ready.

First, there are some things your child should master prior to trying out a pair of scissors. The first skill to learn is "Ripping". I know it puts fear in your heart for your small child to rip up every paper in sight but it is a necessary skill. When the child is very young, use thin, easy to rip items like tissue paper. Show the child how to rip the paper by putting their hands on the top of the page and then your hands over theirs. Now rip the paper together. Soon they will catch on do it alone. This is the beginning stage of working on a tripod grasp and will also strengthen the forearms for later writing and cutting skills. As they get stronger and the tripod grip improves, move on to sturdier items. Some of the things that we kept in our rip basket were magazine inserts, construction paper, index paper and old holiday or greeting cards. I do recommend you keep all of these items in a central location as you do not want the child to think it is okay to rip up all the papers that they see. They need to know that only these papers that you have picked out can be ripped.

Secondly, you will move on to the "Snip" phase. A snip involves using scissors but it requires only one snip to complete the cut. We started our cutting cheap straws that I found at a Dollar Store. If you use straws, be forewarned that the pieces will fly all over the place. For my son, that was part of the intrigue.

When we started snipping, I purchased special scissors for him. The scissors we used did not have spaces for your fingers and thump, instead you put your thumb on top and the other fingers below and just squeeze. These were a huge asset to my son as his muscles were weaker than other kids his age. If you are interested in these scissors they are made by Faber Castell and are available on their Creativity for Kids website. I love these scissors as they are spring motioned and can be used with a left or right hand. If you do not want to use the straws to snip with, try play doh, sandpaper, cooked pasta or herbs. Steer clear of paper for now to give them confidence and excitement.

Lastly, you can move on to cutting with multiple movements. It is best to practice on heavier paper like construction paper or card stock. The paper will be easier for the child to handle thus increasing their confidence. You can find lots of cutting pages on line but until the child is confident, do not give them these pages to work on. Just let them cut the paper any way they please. Once they seemed to have some skill at cutting in multiple movements, draw some dark lines on the papers and ask them to cut on the lines. At first you will start out with straight lines, then lines with one angle, then lines with two angles, etc. Do not get too excited to progress though, be sure the child has the confidence needed to move on to the next step.

Cutting on curves is the last skill they will master. This is the most difficult one. The easiest way to begin learning this is to use items that are already round, like a paper plate and allow the child to cut around the edges.

All during her primary school years she will be working to improve and master her skills. Cutting is not a skill that is mastered overnight. Be patient and understanding with your child to keep them from getting frustrated and giving up.

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