Scissor skill development starts when a child is approximately 2 years old, By the time they reach the age of 3-4 they may be able to use small scissors, however, these skills are not fully developed until the age of 6. In order to be able to cut efficiently, there are a range of skills that require developing, including: fine motor, hand / eye coordination, bilateral, organisational and perceptual.
Before a child learns how to use scissors, there are 5 pre-requisites that they need to develop:
1. The correct scissor grip (thumb facing up in one loop and middle finger in the other loop with the index finger free to guide and support the cutting direction) as well as the ability to open and close the hand. One activity that can promote this skill is putting clothes pegs onto the rim of a cup.
2. The use of both hands together (bilaterally). There are lots of activities to promote this skill including: opening and closing jar lids, shape sorters, or threading.
3. To be able to move their thumb, index and middle finger individually as well as combined. The use of Theraputty or play dough is an excellent resource to help work on this skill.
4. The ability to maintain their shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist, and hand in a stable position as well as move them in a coordinated manner. There are many exercises that promote each of these skills individually or as a combination, for example: doing a puzzle whilst lying on the tummy, propped up onto elbows.
5. To be able to use the eyes together to visually track and concentrate on an item within their line of vision. They also need to be able to coordinate the eyes and hands together to work through the cutting activity which will help to develop accuracy and ensure safe use of the tool. One activity that is useful in promoting this skill is a torch chasing game which involves one person moving a torch on a blank wall and the child following with their torch.
Once the child has mastered all of the pre-requisite skills required for scissor skill development, they can move onto learning to cut using scissors working through the sequential stages in a structured programme. In part 2 we will look at each stage in learning how to use scissors correctly.
At Skybound we focus on developing programmes for families based on the stage of development that each child is at and working towards. Each stage of the programme provides lots of activities to include within therapy and can be integrated within their current programme at home or school. Each programme is monitored through comprehensive data collection to ensure that each of the stages is mastered entirely to ensure success.
By Joanne Harries, Occupational Therapist