Early school success is often based on the mechanics of a young child’s fine motor skills. These skills are needed for cutting, coloring, pasting and printing.
In these next few weeks I’ll share some tips and activities that can help your child develop and streamline the fine motor skills needed to perform assigned tasks. Here are four, fun suggestions to help improve cutting skills.
Some children find cutting difficult. Often this is because paper is too thin for a child to know how cutting feels. One way to overcome this is to roll some modeling clay into long strips, about a half-inch thick. Then let your child cut the strips into small pieces. The thickness of the clay allows your child to sense how properly using scissors “feels.”
Another way to practice cutting is to save the Styrofoam trays used to package hamburger or chicken. Thoroughly wash them in hot, soapy water. Once they are rinsed and dried, your child can cut pieces or shapes from the Styrofoam. The thickness of the Styrofoam allows a child to have better scissor “control.” For added fine motor practice, he can paste or glue the pieces onto colored paper for a collage.
When children want to cut from coloring books or school papers, they often find it difficult to stay on thin, black lines. Use a highlight marker to trace over the line. This gives your child a wider border that is easier to see. I tell my students that the line is the “road” and the scissors are their “car” and they need to keep their car on the road!
Use the coupon section of the Sunday paper. Let your child cut out coupons for you to use at the store. Have him cut out many different coupons, even if you are not going to immediately use them. It’s great practice, and gives real purpose to the activity when you actually redeem them at the store.
Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.