Makaton is a language programme made up of symbols and signs that accompany speech, shared with children of a young age to support early language development. Using speech accompanied with signing and symbols can enhance speech development in all children. Makaton can be used whether the child has delayed speech or not.
Makaton can help young children in expressing their wants and needs, before they are able to talk. This can reduce frustrations when the child begins to understand their wants, but cannot yet express themselves through speech. Introducing signs that are appropriate for your child will help them communicate to you for example drink, toilet, cuddle, biscuit.
When children are young or if they have delayed language they may struggle to understand what you are saying to them which can lead to frustration or confusion. Using signs to complement your spoken words can help a child understand what you are saying. For example If you want your child to put their coat on by saying 'coat on' along with using the signs can support your child's language development and understanding.
Makaton can start being used with babies as you talk and sing to them, this encourages them to look at you and follow your gestures. When teaching a child Makaton signs, it is important to start off with simple signs that can be used in various scenarios, such as more, help, drink etc. When signing, place yourself face to face with the child so they can see your facial expressions and signs clearly. For young children when learning, it might be a nice idea to take their hands and assist them making the sign. It is very important to repeat the signs over and over to support their understanding.
Research shows us that using gestures and signs when we are talking and singing helps child's understanding and helps the child learn new words - Makaton is for everyone!