Education & School

Learning to Cut with Scissors

Cutting with scissors is an important developmental skill that builds fine motor strength; increases hand-eye coordination; and encourages bilateral coordination. Believe it or not, there is a developmental sequence involved with learning to use scissors, and if your child follows the sequence, it will be a much easier skill to learn. The scissor usage developmental milestones you can watch for include:

  • At 2 years of age, a child should be able to snip the ends off a paper.
  • At 3 years of age, a child should be able to cut along a darkened line.
  • At 4 years of age, a child should be able to cut out a circle that has been outlined.
  • At 5 years of age, a child should be able to cut out a square that has been outlined.

You can use these tips to help your child learn to use scissors properly:

Work on the open/close hand motion

When using scissors, your hand makes an open-close motion pattern. Encourage your child to work on this movement by playing with items that naturally open and close including such as clothespins, serving tongs or toy castanets.

Rip paper

Ask your child to tear paper into long strips to build up the finger muscles needed for using scissors.

Select the right scissors

If your child is a leftie, be sure to get her left-handed scissors. Make sure the scissors of choice have a blunt point and can cut the paper.  Dull scissors will often bend the paper rather than cutting it.

Talk about scissor safety

Be sure to talk with your child about what she may use her scissors to cut. It is also important to remind her that she may not walk or run with scissors; they are to be used at the table or desk.

Use a thumbs up position

Your little one probably knows that the “thumbs up” sign means something good. The same applies to scissors. Teach your child to put her thumb up in the smaller hole on the top part of the scissor handle rather than down below in the larger hole.

Snip different textures

Let your child snip playdough, straws, thick cardstock, soft foods, etc. to practice cutting different textures. As she cuts through the different items, she’ll be building hand and finger strength as well as endurance.


Is your child ready to cut straight lines? These tips will get her started.

Cut in rows

Use stickers to make two rows on a piece of paper and ask your child to cut in between the rows.

Draw wide lines

Using a dark maker, draw wide lines up to 1/8” thick; have your child cut on either side of each line.

Count as you cut

Count with your child as she cuts forward to the end of the line.

Sequence the movement

Cue your child with words like “open, push, cut,” while she is cutting the line. Assigning words to each cutting step will help her remember the action sequence as she cuts towards the end of the line.


Perhaps your child is ready to cut a circle—these are the tips that will get her there.

Make a curved path

Place stickers along a curved path and ask your child to follow the sticker path with their scissors to make her cuts.

Use a paper plate

Let your child cut out the inside of a paper plate or even just along the edge. 

Make spirals

Cutting spirals will help your child learn how to cut using a circular movement—not to mention, she can play with the curly creations afterward.


Has your child mastered a circle? You can help her start snipping squares with these tips. 

Stop at the corners

Draw a square on a piece of paper with stickers or dots at each corner. Tell your to child cut along each line until she reaches the sticker or dot with her scissors. Ask her to cut through the sticker or dot and then turn the paper to work on the next line.

Use smaller pieces of paper

Draw squares on small pieces of cardstock or index cards to make it easier for your child to cut off the excess paper.


Although learning to use scissors can be a complex skill to develop, encourage your child to practice in a positive setting. The more she practices, the easier it will be for her to use scissors independently.


  Filed under: Education & School, Parenting Tips

Tips for Starting Preschool

As summer is winding down and preparations for a fall routine are underway, you and your child may be feeling a bit anxious, excited, and even a little sad about the start of preschool. All of these feelings are completely normal; big changes are coming.

Fortunately, for you and your little one, there are many tips and strategies you can put into place to help your family settle into a new preschool routine.


Before preschool begins:

Try some of these tips to help your child prepare for preschool before it even begins:

Make a visit

Take your child to the school and let him walk around and possibly even see his classroom and meet his teacher. Many preschools will host a “Meet the Teacher” event a week or so before school begins; this is a good time to let your child familiarize himself with his classroom and school environment.

Leave for short periods of time

If preschool will be your child’s first experience being cared for by someone other than you, it may be a good idea to leave your child with a trusted friend or family member for short periods of time during the weeks leading up to preschool. In doing this, your child will learn that you will come back and that he is safe while you are away. 

Read books about preschool

You can find lots of great books about going to preschool at the local library, bookstore, or online. Use these types of books and their illustrations to help your child learn what preschool looks like, hear words associated with preschool, and even provide examples of things he may be excited or worried about.


If your child will eat lunch at preschool, let him practice eating lunch out of his lunchbox at home. Ask him to practice cleaning up toys and placing them in a bin before he is able to move on to a new activity. Practice packing his backpack and letting him wear it around your house.

Establish a routine

Get your child practicing a good bedtime and morning routine a few weeks before preschool begins. Set an earlier bedtime and start waking him up around the same time each morning. Give you and him ample time each morning to get dressed, eat breakfast and get out the door without rushing.

Get together with classmates

Consider hosting a playdate for a few children from your child’s preschool class to help him meet new friends. Having familiar faces on the first day of school may help ease any separation worry when a child knows a few other children in the class.


The first few weeks of preschool:

Try some of these strategies to help make the first few weeks of preschool a little easier on both you and your child.

Give a short and sweet goodbye

As hard as it may be, say a quick goodbye and head out of your child’s classroom and school. Preschool teachers are well-trained in getting young children to calm down when separating from their parents—trust the process and be consistent. Most likely your son will eventually stop as he becomes more familiar with his new routine. When you pick up your son, reassure him that you came back for him just like you said you would.

Communicate with the teacher

Be sure to let the teacher know your child’s toileting patterns. Share tricks that work to help your child calm down if he is anxious. Disclose any medical issues or allergies. Offer up information about anything about his home life that may help him transition to preschool. Keeping an open line of communication with the teacher will be important as you establish a dialogue throughout the year.

Check the bag

Be sure to empty your child’s book bag each day when he comes home. Teachers will often put artwork, notes about a student’s day, and important forms for parents to complete in each child’s backpack.

Use a transitional object

Your child may need to bring a favorite small toy or lovie from home the first couple weeks of school to help with the transition. For some children, they may need it in their cubby so they can go over and touch it. Other children need to know it’s in their bag should they need it. Sometimes having something familiar from home can be enough to comfort a child who is missing their parent or having a hard time transitioning.

Starting preschool is an exciting time for most children, but it is also a major milestone that can make parents feel anxious about leaving their child for part of the day. Parents are often more nervous about the transition than their child. Try using these strategies to help make the transition to preschool life easier for everyone.

  Filed under: Education & School, Parenting Tips

Getting Ready for Kindergarten

Summer is flying by quickly making way for schools supplies, lunch money, and homework. Some seasoned parents are counting down the days ready for the return of the routine, while others are beginning to prepare their soon-to-be kindergarteners for this new life adventure.

If you are among the latter, we want you to know you’ve got mama friends, family and our entire Raleigh Therapy Services team cheering you and your new student on to school success.

“The start of the school year can cause any parent to stress and panic, especially those sending their little ones off to kindergarten,” said Allison Crumpler, Raleigh Therapy Services Speech-Language Pathologist and Director of Clinical Compliance. “These new students will find themselves in a different learning environment with new teachers, unfamiliar classmates and a wealth of information to learn and retain—who wouldn’t find that overwhelming?”

Fortunately, there are many activities and skills you can introduce now to give your child a head start on all that awaits her in kindergarten:

Holding a Pencil and Cutting

Children entering kindergarten should be able to hold a pencil and cut with scissors correctly. You can help your daughter perfect these tasks by:

  • Helping her strengthen her fine motor skills by stringing beads, picking up small pieces of paper using their index finger and thumb, etc.
  • Working on using the appropriate three-finger grasp when using pencils, crayons, and scissors
  • Letting her practice cutting by asking her to cut pictures out of old magazines and coloring books

Buttoning and Zipping

Kindergarten teachers like students to be able to button, zip, and fasten their clothing before and after using the restroom. Some children will also be ready to learn how to tie their shoes. Help your student grasp these tasks by:

  • Practicing buttoning and zipping clothing items she isn’t wearing
  • Wearing her “school clothes” around the house ahead of time to practice taking on and off, buttoning and zipping
  • Using a shoelace board or box to practice tying shoes

Remembering an Address and Phone Number

In addition to knowing their first and last names, children entering kindergarten should also learn their home address and phone number. Help your daughter retain this information by:

  • Repetition—say it over and over and over again and asking you’re her repeat after you
  • Making up a catchy, rhyming tune that incorporates her phone number and address

Name Writing

A kindergarten teacher will want your child to be able to write their first name on the first day of school. While the writing will not be perfect at this age, it should be legible. You can help her practice writing her name by:

  • Letting her trace her name to become more familiar with the letters and shapes of the letters
  • Using a dry erase board or chalkboard to write her name as it makes it easy to wipe off and start again

Recognizing Letters

Your daughter will learn the letters of the alphabet, including lower- and upper-case letters, during her kindergarten year. You can give her a leg up on letter identification by:

  • Asking her to point out letters in the books you read during story time
  • Using letter flashcards
  • Tracing letters in the sand at the beach or the playground
  • Playing with magnetic letters on the fridge and asking her to find named letters
  • Going on an alphabet hunt through the house to find toys and objects that start with the same letter

Identifying Letter Sounds

In addition to knowing the alphabet letters, your daughter will also benefit from knowing the sounds* that the letters make. Activities you can use to work on letter sound recognition include:

  • Going on a scavenger hunt around the house to find objects that start with named sounds
  • Using letter flash cards to make the sound of the pictured letter
  • Playing rhyming games or asking her to say words that all start with a certain letter sound

As you share letter sounds with your child, be sure to model the sounds correctly. For example, “t” is “t-t-t” and not “tuh-tuh-tuh.”

Print Concepts

Your student will need to know the front, back, and spine of a book along with being able to identify the author, title, and illustrator. She’ll also need to recognize that pages are read from left to right. Help her expand her knowledge of print concepts by:

  • Pointing out the parts of the book and then asking her to identify them
  • Demonstrating that words and pages are read from left to right by using your finger to move along the words as you say them


Your student will know how to count to 100 by the end of the kindergarten school year. Help your child hone in on her counting skills now by:

  • Asking her to count all sorts of items throughout her daily routine—blueberries on her plate, her building blocks, her pile of stuffed animals and more
  • Showing her number flash cards and working with her to put them in order
  • Looking at numbers on a digital clock and talking about the numbers that come next

“Kindergarten is a big milestone for children and their parents. Incorporating some of the anticipated kindergarten learnings at home, will help in the preparation process and hopefully instill confidence in new students,” added Crumpler.


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  Filed under: Education & School, Parent Education, Raleigh Therapy Services