Dear CMP,

Why does my child’s preschool teacher want my child to practice cutting at home? How can I help my child safely?

Learning how to use scissors is an important skill, it helps children develop the fine motor strength needed to use a pencil. Strong fine motor skills help children as they begin to learn how to write, and are the foundation for gripping and manipulating objects.

Prior to using scissors, tearing paper is an excellent activity to build fine motor skills. Moving their hands in opposite directions and practicing their tripod grasp (thumb and first two fingers) helps build the same muscle group.

Both cutting and tearing paper help develop hand eye and bilateral coordination. Hand eye coordination as the child holds the paper with one hand and cuts or tears with the other, tracking the movement with their eyes as they go. Bilateral coordination as they use both sides of their body at the same time, while each hand is performing a different task, i.e. one hand cuts the paper, the other hand holds/turns the paper.

Toddler cutting paper at our daycare center

Hole punchers, spray bottles, tweezers, tongs, and eyedroppers are other tools to help strengthen fine motor skills. Play dough, wrapping and unwrapping pool noodles/muffin tins/small toys with rubber bands, threading beads on pipe cleaners, and lacing cards are just a few examples of activities you can try too.

Additional tips for scissor success: Self-Opening Loop training scissors are very helpful check on Amazon.

Use high quality children’s scissors: cheap or plastic scissors often don’t cut as well and can lead to a frustrating cutting experience.

Build confidence and skill by snipping narrow paper strips, straws, and play dough. Fringe the edges of paper to build stamina. Remind and show your child where their fingers belong- thumb on top. Mark the top spot of scissors if need be. It takes time, and lots of practice, but soon your child will be a “cut” above!

children doing arts and crafts at our childcare center