The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports that over 4.7 million children aged between 0 and 14 reside in Australia today. Early childhood is a significant time for learning, growth, development, and establishing a solid foundation for future well-being. In the long-term, it impacts their creativity, analytical skills, decision-making, language, communication skills, and more, which affect their performance in school, college, and job prospects. Arts and crafts form a significant part of childhood, leading to innovation during adulthood. Clay art modelling involves the moulding of clay using clay sculpting tools to stimulate children’s biological, cognitive, and social development. Preschools and therapeutic centres use clay due to its highly beneficial and educational characteristics.
It Develops the Child’s Hand-Eye Coordination
Hand-eye coordination is something that people develop from an early age. It is a neurological process where the visual stimuli from the eyes guide the hand muscles to perform a task. People can observe this in children while catching a ball, pouring a glass of water, drawing, etc. Developing strong hand-eye coordination improves a child’s handwriting, athleticism, and agility. Clay sculpting engages the child’s eyes and the muscles in their arms and hands, improving their hand-eye coordination.
It Improves Fine and Gross Motor Skills
These skills refer to the development of larger muscles in the arms, torso, and legs. Developing gross motor skills is essential for learning balance, coordination, physical strength, body awareness, and reaction time. Gross motor skill is crucial for kids to lift, throw, move, and balance things on their hands. Fine motor skills refer to muscle fibres in the fingers, wrists, and hands. Fine motor skills help with better hands like writing, typing, playing instruments, doing school work, self-care, play, eating and more. The child must physically use their arms, hands, and fingers to lift the clay, balance it between their hands, place it neatly, shape it with clay sculpting tools, and handle it with care while sculpting clay models. Therefore, it significantly helps improve their fine and gross motor skills.
It Encourages Learning and Perseverance
Learning is a part of growing up, and mistakes are a part of learning. Sometimes mistakes can be difficult to undo or erase. But the great thing about making mistakes using clay, especially as children, is that they get to learn a lot from them and have the opportunity to implement it and try again. Clay is a material they can manipulate in any shape or form and quickly correct their mistakes. It encourages the children to keep trying without fear to ensure that their mistakes are not permanent. Research by Nate Kornell, Matthew Hays, and Robert Bjork found that children who make more mistakes have enhanced subsequent learning compared to those who don’t.
It Encourages Creativity, Innovation and Play-Based Learning
Being creative is a highly valued attribute in outside work. It may not always refer to the arts. Creativity is also necessary for finding out of the box solutions in any situation or making something familiar stand out. Sculpting objects with versatile clay dough using free hands or clay sculpting tools can stimulate creativity and innovation. It falls under the umbrella term of activity-based learning. Play-based learning refers to children involving themselves in free or guided play and the active participation of parents and educators. They curate the play environment with toys and activities such that the child learns a new skill or a lesson from everything around them. Research states that children who have ‘play’ conditions during their knowledge experience effective enhancement in their problem-solving, creative, self-regulatory, and metacognitive skills.