Empowering communication in Early Years

Noticeboard with Makaton signs

Noticeboard with Makaton signsJayde Conway is a newly qualified Makaton Tutor and Early Years SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) at The Sunflower Children’s Centre in Tameside. Here, she shares her journey to becoming a Makaton Tutor and the positive impact Makaton is making in her Early Years setting.

In the vibrant world of early childhood education, effective communication is the cornerstone of fostering meaningful connections with young learners. As an enthusiastic advocate for inclusive teaching practices, I embarked on a transformative journey to become a Makaton tutor. This decision was fuelled by the desire to create an environment where every child, regardless of their communication abilities, feels heard and understood.

Children entering a nursery setting come along with a diverse range of communication abilities. Some may be confident communicators, while others may face challenges in expressing themselves. Recognising this diversity, I decided to explore Makaton, a unique and inclusive communication tool.

My journey as a Makaton Tutor began with a comprehensive training programme that covered the fundamentals of the Makaton communication programme. From basic signs and symbols to constructing sentences, my Tutor training provided a thorough understanding of how Makaton can be integrated into everyday life. One of the highlights of the training was the emphasis on practical application. Through hands-on activities and scenarios, I gained confidence in incorporating Makaton seamlessly into nursery routines, learning, and play.

The primary benefit of integrating Makaton into the nursery setting is the enhanced communication between educators and children. For those who may struggle with verbal communication, Makaton provides a visual and tactile means to express their thoughts, needs, and feelings. Makaton fosters inclusivity by breaking down communication barriers. It creates a shared understanding that unites children of diverse communication abilities, promoting a sense of belonging among the nursery community.

Beyond communication, Makaton supports the development of essential skills such as fine motor skills, cognitive abilities, and social interaction. Engaging with signs and symbols stimulates various areas of a child's brain, contributing to their overall development.

Picture of JaydeAs we continue to implement Makaton across our early years setting, I am seeing a positive ripple effect as staff and children develop their communication skills and engagement with Makaton. We have introduced a 'Sign of the Week' board, which has been a great way to support staff and children in learning a brand new sign every single week. Children are more engaged, confident, and expressive in their communication. The nursery environment is a space where every child's unique voice is valued and heard.

Becoming a Makaton Tutor not only enriches my teaching practice but also contributes to the development of an inclusive and empowering nursery environment. By embracing the power of Makaton as a team, we are helping children overcome communication barriers and laying the foundation for a future where every child has the tools they need to thrive. In the colourful world of early childhood education, Makaton is a beacon of inclusivity, ensuring that no voice goes unheard, and I am both excited and proud to finally become part of the Makaton family.