8 reasons you should introduce Makaton today!
Makaton has increased in popularity over the past few years, with many Early Years practitioners and parents using it as a way to communicate with children. It is most commonly used with children who may have difficulty with their speech and communication; however it can be beneficial to all children in developing social interaction, fine and gross motor skills and building listening and attention skills.
Makaton is a non verbal way of communicating with others using hand signs and symbols. It is similar to sign language however it is a more efficient language programme to use with children as the signs are easy to copy and only focus on key words. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order.
There are many benefits to using Makaton with children, such as;
1. Building communication prior to speech
It can be very frustrating for children, and especially babies, who are unable to communicate their needs. Simple tasks can become very difficult and leave children frustrated and isolated. Using Makaton with a child can allow them to get their needs across effectively and help them to interact with the world around them.
2. Supporting emotional development
Children who are able to use Makaton to communicate their thoughts and feelings will often have less tantrums or aggressive behaviour. This is because they are able to have conversations using Makaton and can be understood fully by others.
3. Makaton enhances language development
Many may see Makaton or sign language as a replacement for speech however it is not. Makaton is designed to be used alongside speech and although some children may begin to drop the signs once their language has developed, many will continue to use the signs. It is suggested that by using the signs to accompany speech, children will have a deeper understanding of the words they are learning.
4. Signing may increase a child’s IQ and their reading/spelling skills
Research suggests that children who are taught to sign early in their life, end up with better skills in reading and spelling- and may even have higher IQ scores later on in life.
5. Building attention and listening skills
Having sound attention and listening skills can be difficult for young children, especially babies. They may find it difficult to pay attention for a period of time or focus on an individual when they are talking. Signing can support this development, giving children a visual focus whilst also using their listening skills.
6. Strengthening relationships
Teaching a child Makaton can support the bond between adult and child. It requires you to be down at the child’s level and focus your attention on the signs. Verbal communication can easily lose this aspect, with language being used in passing without the need for eye contact and good attention. Using Makaton can support children to feel valued and understand that their thoughts and feelings are important.
7. Promotes fine and gross motor skills
When using Makaton, the children are practising and developing a range of fine and motor skills. Some hand signs may be similar to another and will require the child to position their fingers or hands in a particular way to differentiate the signs. This can be tricky at first but with plenty of practise, children are able to sign very well!
8. Brings people together and is enjoyable for everyone!
Makaton helps bring the community together and supports everyone in being involved. The children love to use the signs and share these with others during activities, especially singing. Using Makaton at home and in the setting can help the children to have a sense of importance and boost their self confidence alongside their language and communication skills.