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It has been noted that clay manipulation can improve hand-eye co-ordination, which can strengthen hand writing skills.
2. Expressing emotions Clay can be pounded, pinched, and squished. It can be stretched, twisted, or poked. These activities can be a socially acceptable way for a child to express and release tension, frustration, and anger without anyone being hurt.
3. Encourages creativity Using clay stimulates the imagination and encourages creativity, which helps to elevate mood and boosts self esteem.
For children, one of the nice things about working with clay is knowing it doesn't matter if something doesn't turn out as planned because it can be reused to make something else. There is no waste, so it takes the pressure off encouraging a child to experiment. Sometimes using clay can be more about the process than an end product.
4. Versatility There are many different techniques which children can use to make something with clay. These range from cutting shapes from a slab of clay with biscuit cutters to using the pottery wheel. These different techniques encourage children to experiment and ask questions.
5. Can be enjoyed by children with a range of abilities Children with additional needs can use clay, with some assistance if needed. Clay has a sensory appeal and its cool sensation can be soothing.
Whatever degree of skill a child has, they can make something. This can increase self confidence and pride when the child shows what he/she has created.
6. Encourages social skills A child may use clay individually or as a group activity. Even when each child is creating their own individual piece they may need to share tools, or discuss a particular challenge they are facing.
Children can work together on a group project. Working on a group project helps children feel included in a community, which increases their sense of belonging. It also encourages conversation.
7. Experience of basic chemistry Children see that clay changes when fired and the effect of heat on glaze. It is much easier to grasp these concepts through practical activities than by reading about it or being told what happens.
Whether you sign your child up for pottery classes or get some clay for them to use at home, there is much to be gained from clay work. Self hardening or air drying clay can be bought from craft shops. Adults might even enjoy making a few things from clay.