Essential Early Years

Young boy sitting on floor playing with Makaton Symbol cards

Essential Early Years logoHello from Essential Early Years!

We are a private day nursery for children aged 0-5 with special needs and we are Makaton Friendly! We would love to tell you all about how we have implemented Makaton consistently across our setting.

Young boy playing with Makaton Symbol cardsYoung girl playing with Makaton Symbol cards

Essential Early Years opened in September 2020 and began with a very small staff team who had all completed their Level 1 Makaton with the management team having completed Level 2. We very quickly realised the impact that Makaton was having on our children’s communication skills and embedded both sign and symbol into our daily routine. From this point we have included Makaton Level 1 training as part of our induction process for new team members.

Cooking ingredients with their corresponding Makaton SymbolsYoung boy sitting on floor playing with Makaton Symbol cards

Staff are trained to use Makaton sign and symbol consistently across the setting; through daily routines, song and story times, offering choice and generally just communicating! We use both visual and talking choice boards across nursery to encourage the use of symbol as well as sign. If a child uses the symbols our amazing team will then model the sign alongside the spoken word. We have also implemented a Makaton sign and symbol of the week which is displayed on our main doors to also encourage community participation – we quite often see people in the community stop at the door and practice the sign of the week!

Our managing director has recently become a Makaton for Babies and Families Trainer and will be delivering this training to staff and families to ensure consistency in communication approaches between home and setting. Being able to support and train parents has deepened the impact on our Makaton interventions as children are being supported consistently both at home and in nursery which has allowed their communication, both verbally and non-verbally, to develop at a faster rate.

Young boy sitting at a table playing with Makaton Symbol cards

We have a Makaton information board in our main entrance which contains lots of valuable information about the benefits of Makaton so we can share and celebrate being Makaton Friendly with families, external agencies and anyone else who visits us! At Christmas we used our social media platforms to create our very own Makaton Advent – full of Christmas signs, modelled by our amazing management team! (Full advent available on our story highlights on Instagram! @essentialearlyyearswirral)

In April 2022 we took part in the National Autistic Society’s Super 7 Fundraising Challenge in which we challenged ourselves to learn 7 new signs in a week! We loved this and used lots of opportunities to learn different, meaningful signs! In November 2022 we had our very first OFSTED inspection in which we were graded OUTSTANDING and the inspector commented on our use of Makaton within the report – “Staff use tools such as Makaton signing to provide precise support to the children as they make remarkable progress from being non-verbal to forming short sentences. Parents of children with SEND are in awe of the level of progress their children are making, saying 'the nursery has saved their lives'.” (full report available: Ofsted | Essential Early Years)

A mother signing with her young daughterA young boy signing as he looks out of a window

Kind Regards

Lynnette Bonner's signature

Lynnette Bonner
Managing Director