'Use it or you lose it' is my new mantra when delivering Makaton training.
I trained as a Makaton tutor back in 2011 so that I could deliver Makaton training to staff in the preschools and nurseries I support in my role as Area Inclusion Coordinator in Hampshire.
In the past I would find that all the participants would sign really enthusiastically during the taster session but then when I visited them a few weeks later everything seemed to be forgotten and nobody was signing any more. Now I really emphasise the benefits of using Makaton signs straight away to ensure that it is sustainable and of lasting benefit to the children (and adults!) in the setting.
I usually suggest that initially they practise using a few key signs rather than trying to learn hundreds and forgetting them all. They can then gradually build up their bank of signs each week based on what is going to be most useful to their children. Also if they worry that they are signing and speaking too slowly, I reassure them that this is a really good thing as it will help support the children’s understanding.
I also tell them how using Makaton will benefit all the children in their setting (not just the children who have been referred to speech therapy!) and that the best way to become confident using Makaton is to make sure that all staff are signing every day as part of their everyday routines. (for example snack time, song time, outdoor play, circle time). That way everyone is working together as a staff team and nobody feels inhibited or embarrassed because they are the only person signing in the setting. It also means that there is much more chance that they will ‘keep on signing’ which is my other mantra!