Scissor Skills

The ability to use scissors is part of school participation. More importantly, the development of good scissor skills can help improve specific skills needed for good handwriting.   The ability to open and close the web space, the active use of one side of the hand only, and the motor planning of the process contribute to the development of a functional pen/pencil grasp. Cutting also provides a good reward for the child. They really feel they have achieved something when they see the different shapes of paper, cardboard or other material that they have created.

Children differ widely in their ability to use scissors.

Correct scissor position is where the thumb is placed in the top loop and the index or index finger and middle finger in the other loop. Some people prefer to use the middle finger instead of the index finger. The fingers not in loops are curved in against the palm. The thumb side of the hand is active in the cutting process while the other side remains passive. Using the two sides of the hand in two different ways can be a challenge for some children. For children having difficulty with handwriting, practice in using the scissors with the index finger in the lower loop can help the child to develop a more functional pencil grasp.

Cutting with scissors also helps children develop bilateral skills. The non dominant had guides the paper. The two hands are performing different tasks but working together.

By the age of 4 a child is expected to be able to cut along straight lines with accuracy and to cut curves and corners with some error. They should also be moving the paper with the non dominant hand for positioning of the scissors but may still find this a little akward. By the age of  6 a child should be able to cut a range of shapes smoothly and with accuracy and use their hands in a co-ordinated fashion

What if my child has difficulty with scissor skills?

In itself, it may not matter. It may just mean that your child has a little more difficulty when cutting is required at school. However, serious difficulty with using scissors often goes along with a general difficulty with fine motor skills, and possibly handwriting. If that is the case, occupational therapy can help.

You can help your child improve their scissor skills but proving a range of materials to cut for example different weights of cardboard, paper, play dough, straws etc. Also using a variety of different types of scissors can help to develop these skills.

Left handed children may have trouble with ordinary scissors although most seem to manage. You can purchase left handed scissors or you can just try turning the scissors upside down which seems to help some children.

Practice in cutting with scissors can help small children to develop their fine motor skills. It is also fun! Be patient it can take time for little ones to get the idea! Start with safety scissors and something firm (but not too firm) to cut like a thinner style of cardboard. You can make it more fun by drawing a picture on the paper or cardboard first. You can draw a road and pretend that the scissors are a car or a truck. Stay on the road!

Snipping can be a good way to start, for example, snipping straws, the side of a paper cup or your junk mail!

If your child has difficulty with cutting and you are concerned about their general fine motor skills you can contact Childworks to arrange an assessment.

Fine Motor Activities

Here are some great ideas for fine motor activities!

I just found this video of Lauren Flores, Occupational Therapist in the US outlining some ideas for fine motor activities and has to share it with you! You might find these activities useful and fun to do with your child.

Have a look at Tinder the occupational therapy dog!

Fine Motor Activities for Handwriting

Participating in fine motor activities can help your child to improve their handwriting ability. Hand and finger weakness, poor sensation and sometimes bad habits can prevent children from mastering handwriting and other fine motor skills. These fine motor activities can help to improve the child’s skills. An occupational therapist can establish exactly which movements need improvement and what fine motor activities will help to develop that movement.

A child may also need help with gross motor skills. Good posture and a stable base are also important for handwriting. An occupational therapist can also diagnose and prescribe appropriate activities for children who need help with gross motor skills.

If you would like more information, please contact help @

Therapy in the Lead Up to Christmas and Holidays


Dropping Energy Levels for School and Therapy

The tinsel goes up and the workbooks go away at this time of year. There is not a lot of highly scholoastic work going on at most schools. As for therapy, some children have had enough by the end of November.  Sometimes a change of therapy can help. If the format changes and some fun, new activities are added, that might be enough to keep your child going until the end of the school year. Other than that, if a child is tired and is winding down, it may be counterproductive to try to force therapy on him or her.  Instead, it may be better to finish up for the year, and maybe schedule a few fun therapy sessions during the holidays. Of course, keep up some fun exercises and some reading throughout the holidays.

Fun Activities for the Holidays

Holidays are a time for fun and games and some of these activities can help with fine motor control, gross motor skills, perception and sensory abilities. Vestibular stimulation is often an important component of therapy. It is often also lots of fun! Why not introduce some balance games during the holidays. Swinging, walking along a wall, climbing monkey bars etc can be great stimulation. The important thing is that you keep the activity fun for the child. You can do some fun fine motor activites as well, such as threading beads. An activity I have found that is fun for boys and similar to threading beads is threading the little plastic fasteners from that you find on loaves of bread, onto electrical cables. You can also turn this (and the bead threading) into a sequencing game by asking your child to copy a sequence of colours! Have you considered the range of sensations available in just going for a swim? Development will continue over the holidays. It may not be as specifically directed as in therapy but the first goal is to have fun. Please contact us if you would like some ideas on holiday activities.

A Great Time to Start Occupational Therapy

If your child has not started therapy yet, this could be an ideal time. When other children are not attending therapy, you may not need to wait as long to see an occupational therapist. You may even be able to secure one of the elusive after school time slots and carry it over to the new year!  Also, your child might be very excited about starting a programme and, rather than loosing energy, may be able to devote more energy to therapy while he or she is winding down at school or getting ready for a new year of school. A few therapy sessions toward the end of the year or in the holidays might set him or her up to do well in the following year.

We wish you all a very happy and safe Christmas and all the best for 2015. We look forward to assisting your child in the new year.

If you would like to find out what appointments are available please call Childworks on 0418 447 072.


Posture and Handwriting

Posture is important for handwriting. It is not only the strength and movements of the muscles in the fingers which is used for the very complex task of hand writing but also the larger muscles which are a support and provide stability for fine motor skills to excel. Issues with posture can arise when children have low muscle tone particularly in relation to their core body strength. Posture can also be an issue when the child has inappropriate positioning to perform the task.

Of course a combination of poor core strength and inappropriate positioning will provide the worst possible outcome with respect to posture.

Children with low muscle tone or those with inappropriate positioning may have difficulty remaining on task, not necessarily because of a low attention span but because they feel uncomfortable and fatigue quickly.

At school, I find children are generally seated appropriately or close to it, however, at home they often perform their homework in some quite bizzare positions! Children performing homework with their legs dangling at the kitchen bench or reaching up to a high dining table will not be able to perform as well as children who are seated appropriately. As for children lying on the floor in front of the television, do I need to comment? Weird postures are not really an issue if your child doesn’t have problems with handwriting but if they do, it is important that you ensure they are given every opportunity to perform at their best.

There is no position that is absolutely “correct” in the sense that a child should remain in that one position for vast periods of time. Children should be allowed to stretch and move frequently. They will, however, perform best when seated appropriately for the period of time they need to perform a particular task, that is:

  • feet flat on the floor or supported by a stable footrest,
  • knees flexed to 90°, hips flexed between 90° to 110°,
  • and elbows at approximately 90°.

Also make sure the seat length is appropriate for the child, if it is too short, it will provide insuffcient support, if too long, the child will not be able to sit with his or her back against the back support and will therefore have insufficient support. A cushion can be an effective way of reducing seat length.

When observing your child’s performance in handwriting, it is vital to consider posture as a basis for the activity. Without good support and control of larger muscle groups, the smaller muscle groups used in handwriting cannot do what they are supposed to do.

More information about posture and handwriting can be found here.

The decline of handwriting: a rant

Developing  Skills for Handwriting

There is no doubt the world is changing and changing at an increasing pace. Many children still love their sport but many don’t. The older fine motor activities seem to be dated now that they have been replaced by computers. And why not? Inside a computer (connected to the internet) is an entire world. You can be anyone, do anything, learn anything. Whatever, your passion, you can get your fix on line. So the old-fashioned kids activities like, marbles, jacks, drawing, making things, and so on, well, they don’t really compete. Children participate in fine motor activities much less they have  done in years gone by. That is of course, with the exception of keyboard use! Most kids seem to be pretty skilled at that!

Even gross motor skills are not practiced as much as they were. For children who love sport, they do still participate, but lets face it. These are not the kids who needed the practice anyway. The kids who find sport a bit challenging are less likely to give netball or footy a go and more likely to try an online game instead. There seems to be less casual sport around. Most sport these days seems to be of the more formal variety, where you register with your local AFL, netball or athletics club. You attend games on Saturdays (generally on the other side of the city), train on Tuesdays and complete the season, hopefully as the champion team. That kind of sport is great but I regret that kids don’t seem to participate in the less formal version as much. The football after school, with whoever turns up, cricket in the cul de sac and the even less organised hitting a ball against a wall with a stick!

Difficulty with Handwriting

Both fine motor and goss motor skills are important for handwriting. When you add to the fact that children are not developing these skills in the same way they have in the past, with the fact that they are simply not using handwriting as much at school or at home, it is little wonder so many children have difficulty with handwriting.

Handwriting in the Education System

Now, I am not calling for a return to the past. No one can deny the overwhelming advantages to the use of technology. In the future handwriting is likely to be a more specialised skill and children will be able to complete their education with no disadvantage due to poor handwriting. I believe that computers will be used for all exams in the future. But this is not the case now. Handwriting is a critical part of education for every child. If a child cannot master handwriting so that it is legible and produced at a reasonable speed, then they are at a significant disadvantage in the current system. Handwriting has also been shown to assist in the learning process.

Helping Children Who Have Difficulties with Handwriting

Childworks can help children to develop the handwriting skills they need at school. We evaluate each child individually, looking not only at their handwriting ability, but their general performance at school and at home and any issues that might be impacting on their handwriting ability for example their environment, disability or other factors. We then put together a plan to help them based on evidence about the development of handwriting skills and on what that child in particular needs. This involves, where possible, seeing the child perform at school and speaking to his or her teacher.

Referring a Child for Help With Handwriting

If you would like to refer your child to Childworks or just ask a question, please use the contact form which you can find here.



Welcome to Childworks website!

Welcome to Childworks. I am pleased to be typing in our new blog in our new website. With so many people looking things up on line before they contact anyone in the community, we thought it was time to have a site that allows us to communicate directly with partents, teachers and other treatment providers.  The site also acts as a way for people to contact us. I have kept the website simple on the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid). There is a referral form attached, you can use that to make a referral or just to ask a question.