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Let’s speak about Makaton

Written by Maria Ramos

Makaton is a special way of communicating using hand signs, symbols, and simple pictures. It helps people who might have trouble speaking or understanding words to express themselves and also makes it easier for young children to communicate even if they’re still learning to use words or if they have English as a second language (ESL). This can be really useful for teachers, parents, and children to understand each other better and have a great time learning and playing together!

Will Makaton delay my child’s speech?

No, Makaton is not likely to delay children’s speech. Makaton is often used alongside spoken language. Children who use Makaton are encouraged to speak while using signs and symbols. This combination can actually help children understand the connection between words and their meanings, which can support their speech development.

For children who find it hard to say words or put sentences together, Makaton provides an alternative way to communicate. This can reduce frustration and help them express themselves until their speech skills improve.

When should we start using Makaton?

You can start using Makaton with children as early as they begin to communicate. Introducing Makaton during their early years can support their language development and enhance their ability to express themselves.

How often should we use Makaton? 

Consistency is key when using Makaton. Incorporate Makaton into daily routines and interactions with children. Using it during playtime, meals, and other activities helps reinforce their understanding of signs and symbols. The more you use Makaton, the more comfortable and confident children will become in using it to communicate.

How Makaton can help children with English as a second language? Makaton uses signs, symbols, and words all together. This makes English learning less scary and more visual and helps to reduce anxiety and fosters inclusive helping to building vocabulary. It’s like telling stories with signs, helping children to learn words and talk better.

Are Makaton and Sign language the same? 

No, Makaton and Sign language are not the same.

  • As explained above, Makaton is a communication system that combines signs, symbols, and spoken language. It’s meant to help people with speech and language difficulties. The main goal of Makaton is to make communication easier for those who need extra help with speaking or who are learning to communicate.
  • Sign language, on the other hand, is a fully developed language that uses specific hand movements, gestures, facial expressions, and body positions to convey meaning. It’s used by the Deaf community as their primary way of communicating.

To assist parents in learning Makaton and support their children at home, here at Willows, Colliers Wood, we’ve set up a Makaton board at the front entrance. Weekly updates are introduced for new words to practice with your child/ren.

I hope this help all of you to understand better why and how we implement Makaton at Willows!

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