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Tips for supporting scissor skills: stabilizing the paper

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Scissor skills are a very important skill for children. To use scissors, children need many skills including bilateral hand use (ie: leading hand and supporting hand), flexion/extension of their fingers, wrist/forearm stability and the ability to keep forearm in neutral.

Once children master flexion/extension of their fingers and the ability to snip, the next step is their non-dominant hand placement to help move the paper to cut the line or turn the paper to cut shapes. This can be a tough skill to teach.

Difficulties you may see when students are learning this skill:

  • The student not holding the paper tight enough or too tight with their non-dominant hand. This could be related to proprioceptive ability and motor grading.
  • Difficulty moving the paper towards them. You may see students holding their arms straight out the further they cut. This is because they are not bringing the paper towards their bodies when cutting.
  • Holding the paper with their non dominant hand with the thumb under the paper instead of on top of the paper. This makes it very difficulty to turn the paper.
  • The student opening / closing their non-dominant hand when attempting to hold the paper. They may sometimes rip the paper in the process. This can be related to motor overflow. This could also be a sign that they have difficulty with scissor skills and need more practice.

So how do we help children with their non-dominant hand placement?

 

  • Use specific verbal prompts to help the student when they are turning their paper. I will use the prompt “One hand hold the paper and the other cuts”. I also say “Our scissors stay straight and our paper turns”.

  • To help students with the extension of their arms while cutting due to the fact that they are not moving the paper in towards their body, place a folder under their dominant arm’s elbow. Instruct the student to not let the folder drop. This indirectly supports students to hold their arms at their side while and move the paper with their non-dominant hand.

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DISCLAIMER: Elizabeth Kosek is a Licensed Occupational Therapist , but is in no way representing herself as such with the content of this blog or through her resources. By using this website or any resources, you agree that this activity is not intended to replace skilled therapy services, consultation, treatments and does not replace the advice of a physician or occupational therapist. Speak with your physician or OT if you have questions. Information provided should not be used for diagnostic or training purposes. Stop any activity if you are unsure about a child’s reaction or ability. Empowering OT is not liable for any injury, accident, or incident that may occur when creating or replicating any of the activities or ideas found on this blog or contained within any resource provided here.