Developing Cutting Skills Milestones – Ages 2 – 6

Year Level: Early Years, Foundation, Year 1 & 2

A milestone sheet which identifies age based norms for developing cutting skills in children aged 3 to 6 years.

Over a period of several years, children progress through several steps when learning to cut with scissors.

At age 2 – 2½ years…

  • Child is able to open and shut scissors with two hands.
  • Child is able to snip paper. Child holds scissors in one hand (dominant hand is not likely established at this stage). The paper may be held by an adult.

At age 3 – 4 years…

  • Child is able to cut a 10cm piece of paper in approximate halves. No line is placed on the paper.
  • Child is able to cut along a 10cm straight line. Their cut line should not be wider than 1.7cm.

At age 4 – 5 years…

  • Child is able to cut around corners (with wide angles) while staying within a line that is 0.6cm wide.
  • Child is able to cut along curves while staying within a line that is 0.6cm wide.
  • The child is also able to manoeuvre their non-cutting hand to support the cutting.
  • Child requires frequent practise to consolidate their cutting skills.

At age 5 – 6 years…

  • Child is able to cut along a curved line. Their cut line should not be wider than 1cm.
  • Child is able to cut out a range of squares (and with sides measuring as small as 8cm). Their cut line should not be wider than 1cm.
  • Child is able to cut out a range of triangles (and with sides measuring as small as 8cm). Their cut line should not be wider than 1cm.
  • Child is able to cut out a range of circles (and with diameters measuring as small as 12cm). Their cut line should not be wider than 1cm.
  • Child is able to cut out a range of large, simple shapes while staying within a line that is 0.6cm wide.

A Note About Dominance

Research suggests that the majority of children show a dominant preference by 3 years and most by school age, however, some actually establish dominance as late as 8 or 9 years old. Making a preference is important as it allows the child to develop skill and endurance with that hand.
If a child has not yet made a preference, it is suggested that the child be encouraged to participate in activities:

  • that involve crossing the midline,
  • that use both hands together,
  • where both are active and
  • where one hand does the work and the other one assists.

You can download PLD’s checklist for hand preference HERE. Don’t try to choose the dominant hand but observe which hand is used the most often or is more skilful. It may also be helpful to refer the child to an Occupational Therapist for an assessment, prior to commencing year one.

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