When can kids use scissors safely?
Scissor skills progress over time, with consistent use. Children should start to use scissors early on, as toddlers (around 1.5 years old). Contrary to general opinion, scissors can be used safely at this age. As a therapist, I’ve experienced a general reluctance from parents when it comes to putting a pair of scissors in the hands of their child. I totally get this! Scissors can be dangerous if not used carefully. Children may hurt themselves or someone else. But there is a way around this. Simply use plastic safety scissors containing a blunt tip (with adult supervision of course). This is a safe way to teach kids how to use scissors and they will begin to develop the motor skills needed to acquire this skill. Young kids can practice by cutting play dough or modeling clay.
Early on, around 1.5 years old, children will use both hands to open and shut scissors. Around age two, he or she can do so using only one hand. In this post, I will cover the developmental progression of scissor skills. You’ll learn what to expect from the very beginning, til when scissors skills have matured, around age 6.
Able to open & close using the correct grasp
Able to snip
Able to hold the paper with the opposite hand
Cuts a piece of paper in two (5″ square)
Cuts a 5″ line within 1/2″ limits
Age 4 – 4.5
Cuts a 5” line within ½” limits
Cuts a triangle with 2” sides within ½” limits
Moves paper while cutting
Cuts a 5” circle within 1/2” limits
Cuts a 5” circle within 1/4” limits
Age 4.5 – 5
Cuts a 5″ circle within 1/2″ limits
Cuts simple shapes (circle, triangle, square) within 1/4″ limits
Cuts a 5″ curvy line within 1/4″ limits
Cuts out complex shapes
Source: Brigance Inventory of Early Development ©1991 Curriculum Associates
Peabody Developmental Motor Scales ©2000, 1983 Pro-Ed., Inc.
Fun Strokes Freebie!
Trying to remember where a child should be developmentally isn’t always easy. I’ve been practicing OT for over 20 years and still need a point of reference when completing evaluations or writing goals. I love a good infographic that provides the information I need at a glance, like this one below.
Conveniently use this handy graphic as a quick reference to determine where a child’s scissor skills fall on the developmental timeline. Click the button above to get your free PDF today!
I hope that this post provides you with a better understanding of how scissor skills mature and when it’s safe to get kids started. Have a question or comment? Leave a reply in the box below. I’d love to hear from you!
The Fun Strokes blog is designed for educational and informational use only for therapists, teachers, and parents. It is not intended as medical advice or therapeutic treatment that would be provided in an individualized treatment plan. If you suspect a child has delays, please consult an occupational therapist.