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When can a child cut? Milestones at 3 and 4 years

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Every child develops differently and at a different pace.

When we talk about cutting, motor development plays a big role in whether or not you can handle scissors.

However, the environment in which a child grows up also has a major influence on this.

From when can a child cut

In a household with a lot of tinkering, the child will be able to handle scissors more easily than in the case of a child who tinkers little.

Moreover, there are children who simply have more problems with fine motor skills, or have some other reason that makes it take longer before they can handle scissors correctly.

A child goes through different stages of development. The pace differs per child, but there is an average profile of 'normal' motor development that we can use as a guide.

So there are specific skills that a child should master at a certain age.

So when, on average, can a child already cut?

It is generally assumed that a child in grade 1/2 learns to use scissors, then they begin learning to cut properly without assistance. This is from four years. From the age of three you can start learning to hold scissors and start practicing together.

  • Some kids are fast and get along with scissors early in development.
  • Children of four still often use a lancing device to 'cut' something, because neat cutting is not yet within their skills.

The more often a child cuts, the better it will go. Practice makes perfect!

In this article we will explain approximately when a child can cut themselves, and tips on how to encourage that as a parent or teacher.

We also give great examples of toys that can help a child learn to cut.

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When can a child cut?

Cutting is a daily activity, especially in a classroom and / or household where a lot of tinkering and creativity is stimulated.

Cutting is an important part of the development of fine motor skills. It is therefore also recommended to have (safe) scissors at home, so that children can practice cutting at home.

  • Around the second year of life, your little one will first learn to tear paper. In the first instance, a toddler does this with the whole fist. A few months later it will be able to use both hands together and will also be able to control the thumbs and index fingers better.
  • From the age of three, a child learns to hold a child's scissors and cut a little with help. Around the age of four, a child could cut without help. The child will then also think about what to cut and will try to get started accurately.

Useful tips for learning to cut

To teach a child to cut safely, there are a number of things that you as a parent or teacher must take into account.

  1. Power in the hands
  2. Material
  3. To practise
  4. The right directions

You must check in advance whether the child has the correct strength in the hands to operate the scissors.

The child must also be able to make an open and close movement by hand.

You can also practice this without scissors, for example by hanging the laundry with a clothespin or by having the child pick up small objects with large plastic tweezers.

Make sure you have good scissors at home, and take into account your child's dominant hand (is he or she right or left handed)?

The scissors should have blunt tips so that children can handle them safely and do not accidentally get hurt.

There are even scissors with double holes like this one from Creotime, so that you as a parent or teacher can cut with the child:

Creotime scissors with double holes to learn how to cut

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Always start with paper, never with cardboard because it is much more difficult to cut. You can also start by cutting clay or straws.

If a child manages to use the scissors, they can start practicing in a purposeful way.

For example, have the child cut a strip of paper into smaller pieces and then make a mosaic of it. You can also cover a strip of paper with stickers and have the child cut between the stickers.

Teach the child to hold the scissors correctly:

  • the thumb goes through the one hole,
  • the middle finger through the other hole
  • and the index finger guides the scissors while cutting.

The thumb will continue to point up during the cut, and with your other hand you hold the paper still.

If a child already knows how to cut straight lines, they may start to use the other hand to steer, as well as cut curved lines.

It is also useful to indicate that when a child is ready to make a few cuts, but can cut in one go over a straight line, the scissors are never completely closed.

One aid here is to think of the scissors as the beak of a hungry bird eating the paper!

The beak then opens completely to 'eat' as much paper as possible, but the beak does not close completely. This way you get a nice, smooth line while cutting!

Which toys stimulate learning to cut?

There are a number of toy items on the market that can help your child learn to cut. We give three great examples here:

  1. Totum Little Creators Learn to cut
  2. Rompom - Cut, color, paste
  3. Ses I Learn to Cut - Mega Set

De Totum Little Creators Learn to cut helps your little one learn to cut and improve fine motor skills:

Totum Little Creators Learn to cut

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The set comes with safety scissors that will teach your child to cut like the best! When your craft is done, you can make it come to life in the free Totum 4D app!

The set consists of 16 cutting sheets, scissors, a 3D magic drawing and a manual. Suitable for children from 3 to 12 years old.

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With the Rompom - Cut, color, paste your child can be creative and learn the art of cutting:

Rompom - Cut, color, paste

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De fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination are stimulated. The assignments are a nice addition to what the preschooler learns at school. Suitable from 4 to 6 years.

With the Ses I Learn to Cut - Mega Set your child will get special scissors that can only cut paper. Clothes and hair are therefore not at risk, fortunately:

Ses I Learn to Cut - Mega Set

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You get 48 brightly colored cutting sheets so that you have enough material to learn how to cut.

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child he came into contact with everything related to games when his mother started the Tinnen Soldaat in Ede. Now he and his team create helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.