Is Makaton important?

Over the past couple of weeks Elsa has started to take an interest in learning Makaton. She has been doing this through the Cbeebies programme, Something Special, but is it important for her to know how to sign?

What is Makaton?

Makaton is communicating through hand signs and symbols. Signs used are simple forms of ones from BSL (British Sign Language) which is the language used by the deaf community in Britain. It can also be used along side speech. Mr Tumble uses Makaton signing in the programme Something Special. This normalises signing for children who may not use Makaton in normal day-to-day life. Signing can help children who have speech difficulties or who’s speech is unclear, this means there is no barrier in communication.

The benefits of learning Makaton

  • It can help with frustration – A baby/toddler or young child might want to express how they feel but don’t yet know the words to say it instead they can say through basic sign. This can also help reduce stress which in turn helps with tantrums.
  • Help with speech development – Makaton helps by giving an extra clue to the spoken word, it can be used as a bridge to the word they are trying to say.
  • Many babies that learn Makaton from early on actually use it as a way to communicate before they can speak.
  • Some experts say that it has psychological benefits such as improved confidence as well as improved self-esteem.
  • Makaton can also promote bonding as it encourages eye to eye contact when you use it to communicate .

Why we learn Makaton

Elsa has learnt a few signs now and babies from around 6 months of age can learn basic signs such as milk, drink, hungry, sleep, more, play, please, thank you, hello and goodbye. We don’t put any pressure on Elsa to learn signs and she just picks them up from watching Mr Tumble. We even pick some up while watching with her. In our case we may have to use Makaton regularly in the future due to Rory having some degree of hearing loss. Some children make their own signs up rather than using the ‘normal’ sign, this makes it more personal to the child and should be encouraged. The best way to start learning Makaton is by using 3 – 5 signs and making eye contact then repeat the signs on a regular basis, eventually they will pick the signs up. You never know if your child may need to know signing at some stage in their life and there is no harm is starting them off young.

You can find more information on The Makaton charity website here

Would you teach your child Makaton?

Header photo used from Makaton charity website

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