Happy MOMents' Makaton Journey
From a Makaton Taster Session with Kerry Cawley in December 2019 (for 20 volunteers and as many children!) to 16 of our volunteers being trained up to Level 2 Makaton in October 2020 in between lockdowns, Makaton has been transformative to our transition as an organisation during lockdown.
Happy MOMents is a network of families that provide support, services and fun for the whole family in Batley and Dewsbury in Yorkshire.
Pre-Covid, we hosted stay & play sessions, baby massage classes, informative coffee mornings, courses and postnatal fitness classes to over 100 women and children each week. We discovered Makaton just before Covid and managed to get our Makaton Level 1 Workshop started before the first lockdown. The rest was put on hold until October when it was safe to meet for face-to-face training again as we preferred to see our lovely tutor Kerry in person!
Makaton has been a fantastic language development tool for our organisation as we now present two online story-time sessions a week to our families in which we sign at least 2 key words from the story and sign our rhyme time too. The children love signing along and we have seen their confidence grow (and ours!) over the last few months with signing. We teach ‘finger gym’ to them too, so Makaton is a lovely developmental bridge between dexterity and language development for them.
We show the children the Makaton symbols and signs in each session and once we are back to face-to-face sessions, these will be displayed in the room and used as a learning tool too
One of our sessions is a faith-based story-time and we have adapted some of the signs around Faith words with Kerry’s help. We begin with signing ‘Bismillah’ (In the Name of Allah) at the start of each session and end with ‘Allah Hafiz’ ‘Allah Be with you’. Alhamdulillah (all praise is for Allah) is my favourite sign and the children love this too! Adapting the signs is tricky as Arabic not only writes right to left but often the meaning is in backwards order too so we always double check any ‘new’ signs to make sure they don’t confuse anyone.
Aysha, our baby massage instructor, uses many of the signs from Makaton Signing for Babies which we completed together during lockdown too. The new moms love that they are learning a ‘code’ with their babies that they can both understand!
Thanks to Kerry for helping to develop these faith-based signs which have given many children comfort during these uncertain times.