Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Activities for Preschoolers: Scissor Skills

This year, my son is part of the Head Start program, so every Monday through Thursday morning, he has school from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. It's great because he's learning a lot, not just about typical school stuff (ABCs, writing, numbers, etc.) but he's also learning other skills. They talk about what to do if you're angry, how to wait your turn, sharing, eating healthy, etc. They also serve the kids breakfast and lunch, which is awesome because that's 8 meals a week that I don't have to worry about feeding Alex. It's also great because that's 14 hours a week where he's out of the house and I can get more done without worrying about IBS — I'm Bored Syndrome.

But this week is Spring Break, which means Alex is home all day every day. This is especially hard for me since I'm a work-at-home mom, so it's not like I can just take time off and spend it with him. Still, I am trying to use the time to be with him more and not work the whole day.

Getting Ready for Kindergarten by Teaching Your Preschooler to Use Scissors

Before Alex started at Head Start, I didn't even think about working with him on using scissors. I taught him his letters, shapes, numbers and counting, animals, etc., but scissors never entered into the equation. Then last week the teacher said to me right before leaving on the last day, "Alex really needs help on using scissors. Maybe you could work with him on it over the break." I was thinking, What? Why? Why would being able to use scissors be important? Luckily for me, there's the Internet.

Why Kids Need to Learn to Use Scissors 

  • Cutting with scissors builds muscles in the hands needed for fine motor skills like writing and painting — anything that requires a grip. 
  • It helps strengthen hand-eye coordination, so your child is more coordinated (like for throwing balls and such). 
  • It works on bilateral coordination — two sides of the body work together (for example, holding the paper with one hand while cutting with the other).

Ways to Practice Using Scissors

There are many ways to practice using scissors with your preschooler. The important thing is to not stress about it too much and go with what you're up to doing that day. Here are some ideas:
  • Draw shapes on a piece of paper and then have your preschooler cut them out. After, you can decorate the shapes together. We just used scrap paper I had in the recycles bin for this.
  • Print out some worksheets, like those found at Kids Learning Station, and have your child cut along the line.
  • Create an art project that requires cutting, such as this one from Make and Takes. That way it's fun and your preschooler won't realize that it's practice. If you need inspiration, there are lots of ideas on Pinterest.

When Should You Start Teaching Your Child to Cut with Scissors?

Did you know that you should start having children use scissors as early as 2? I had no idea, but I suspect it's why Alex is so far behind in writing, so it's definitely something we'll be working on, and I'll start working with MW on it sometime in the next year. Here are the recommendations for when you should teach your child what:

  • 2 years old: Use scissors to snip the ends off of pieces of paper
  • 2.5 years old: Cut through a piece of paper from end to end
  • 3 to 3.5 years old: cut along a line that's 1/2 inch thick (should be able to stay within that line without cutting outside of it more than 3 times)
  • 3.5 to 4 years old: cut out a circle (should be able to stay close to the line for at least 3/4 of the circle)
  • 4.5 to 5 years old: cut out a square
It's also recommended to use a variety of thicknesses, starting with thick paper and working towards thinner paper (which is harder). Materials would include play dough, thick folders, construction paper, regular paper, and then tissue paper.

When choosing scissors, find ones that allow for stability, such as these children's scissors, especially the ones on top from Fiskars. These allow stability, making cutting easier, and they have blunt ends that are rounded.

Alternative Activities to Using Scissors

If your child doesn't have the strength yet to use scissors, there are other activities they can do that use the same muscles so they can build up to using scissors.
  • Use tongs to pick up objects and put them in a bucket.
  • Cut out pieces of paper and have your child use tweezers to pick up a piece of paper and drop it into a box.
  • Have child use a single hole puncher to punch holes in paper.
  • Create a race where your child has to pick up an object with tongs and carry it to the other side of the room and drop the object into a tub.
So if you're looking for ways to help your preschooler prepare for kindergarten, don't forget to work on those scissoring skills! What things are you doing to help your preschooler prepare for kindergarten? I'd love to hear it!

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