Children’s entertainer Dave Benson Phillips has officially opened a Southwick nursery as a Makaton Friendly setting.
Dave, who used the sign language on BBC Playdays and has a Makaton Nursery Rhymes DVD, was delighted to share his knowledge with the children at Church Lane Nursery, based in St Michael’s Church hall.
He cut the ribbon at the official opening last Wednesday and then sang songs with the children.
Owners Rachel Button and Sue Jackson introduced the language programme, using signs and symbols, soon after they took over the nursery two years ago.
All the nursery’s staff have now completed Makaton training and an evening is planned to share the knowledge with the parents.
Rachel explained: “We had a girl signed up who had additional needs, so we realised we needed more training. Having done it, it really fired us up and we realised it would help all the children.
“We have one boy with a speech delay and he was getting very frustrated but now he can use Makaton, he doesn’t get so cross. The children love it. It helps them to express their emotions.
“It doesn’t just help children with additional needs, it helps those with English as a second language and speech delay, and children who are so painfully shy, they cannot speak.
“Recently, every member of staff did the training course, which is unusual. We have black and white symbols up around the room and use the signs when we are speaking.
“The parents have asked for training so they can continue it at home, so we have an evening planned for that. I don’t think it is talked about enough.”
Makaton tutor Sheila Inwards, who works across Sussex, said: “So many people think it is just for disabled children but it is not. It is good to see all the staff so engaged, and all the children.
“Hopefully, we can put Southwick on the map by making it a Makaton Friendly town.”
Sue said everyone at the nursery felt Makaton was an important aid to communication.
“We want to make the local community aware of how much the use of Makaton can make the lives of the children and parents less stressful and communication easier when out and about,” she added.
“We are hoping it will inspire other settings and local shops to learn and display that they use Makaton.”