When Malik was a baby I started to use Makaton to support his speech development. I had seen how it worked with my nieces and nephews, who were raised in single language households, and I understood how helpful it could be for children who growing up bilingual or multi-lingual. I used the signs together with the spoken words for language we use on a daily base.
Later I noticed that Malik never had problems expressing himself in any language he spoke. He was used to expressing himself with gestures whenever he needed to.
“Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order.” (www.makaton.org)
Makaton can be very helpful in the classroom when you want to give children the opportunity to communicate their needs and feelings to you even when they are not able to speak (English) yet. Simple signs such as ‘to drink’ or ‘to eat’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are very easy to teach to children, especially when you use the sign combined with the spoken word. You also can make symbol-cards to use in your classroom so children can point out what they mean.
“With Makaton, children and adults can communicate straight away using signs and symbols. Many people then drop the signs or symbols naturally at their own pace, as they develop speech.”
By using Makaton with children from a very young age (babies) they become able to communicate their needs when they are not yet able to speak. This helps them to become less frustrated when they are in the process of developing their language, because they still are able to share their needs and thoughts with you.
In this way Makaton can be very helpful for children who are able to speak in their own language but not able to speak the language of your setting yet. You can share the signs you use regularly with parents and encourage them to use them at home in their own language, to make the child familiar with the sign’s which you use in class. They will gradually start using the correct word in the correct language and drop the sign when they are ready.
For practical ideas on how to use Makaton please go to www.makaton.org or www.mychoicepad.com
Or watch Youtube videos of Mr. Tumble.