News

The latest news from The Makaton Charity.

2023's Best Seller
29/01/2024

2023's Best Seller

Makaton Vocabulary Flashcards

Makaton Vocabulary FlashcardsHave you got your Everyday Vocabulary Flashcards yet?

Our bestselling item in 2023 is a powerful tool for individuals of all ages and abilities to enhance communication.

With 37 carefully chosen signs and symbols, these compact flashcards cover a range of essential everyday words and are designed in a convenient pocket size making them perfect for on-the-go use, either independently or attached to a lanyard (sold separately).

These flashcards can be used in a variety of ways to build sentences, initiate conversation, or prompt social interactions. They can also be used in conjunction with other Makaton resources to help develop literacy skills, increase vocabulary, and improve comprehension.

Shop now

Published
1st March 2023

News

Empowering communication in Early Years
19/01/2024

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.

Author

Jayde Conway

19th January 2024

At school

Volunteer playworker
07/12/2023

Volunteer playworker

Portrait photo of Abigail

Portrait photo of AbigailMy name is Abigail, and my story was featured on The Makaton Charity website back on 10th May 2022. I thought I would give an update for your website to show you where I am: a proud volunteer playworker working for the incredible Darlington Association on Disability (D.A.D).

We work with children and young people aged 3 to 25 with complex needs to other special needs, especially young people and children with communication and speech impairments.

We work very closely with Makaton; we are all training and learning at the same time, and we understand a lot of children's and young people's needs. As a volunteer playworker, this brings my Makaton skills to the test, and it has come in handy when you're at work, loving every minute of being a Volunteer Playworker.

A young woman chopping a tomatoAlso, we do various schemes through D.A.D, and we also love to learn and practice our Makaton skills.

I can't wait to see what the future brings for all at Darlington Association on Disability.

Thank you so much for sharing my volunteer playworker story on your website. Maybe a part three in the future. Thank you so much for listening to my story.

Love, Volunteer Playworker Abigail xxx

 

Read Abigail's first blog: Makaton is for everyone

Author
Abigail
7th December 2023

At work

Spring Sale
06/12/2023

Spring Sale

Spring Sale
The sale ended at midnight, 31st March 2024.

Blue skies are appearing, daffodils are starting to bloom and supermarkets are full of Easter Eggs, which can only mean one thing – it’s time for the Makaton Spring Sale!

From today you can save 20% on all products* on our online shop.

Put a spring in your step with our diverse range of Makaton products! From Core Vocabulary books  and interactive games to enchanting story books and branded Makaton merchandise – there’s a wide variety of products available to help you learn Makaton, develop your skills, and have fun.

Simply enter the code SPRING24 at checkout to receive 20% off your order* throughout the whole of March.**

Happy Spring, Happy shopping!

 

Shop now

 

*Spring Sale excludes Membership and Tutor Resources
**Offer valid from 1.3.2024 – 31.3.2024 inclusive

Published
1st March 2024

News

Vacancy: Franchise Manager
06/12/2023

Vacancy: Franchise Manager

Makaton symbol for Office Worker

The closing date for this vacancy was 26th February 2024

We are recruiting! As part of our expansion strategy in 2024, we're introducing an accredited 'Trainer' role to embed Makaton in sector-specific areas and reach new markets and audiences. To drive this exciting initiative forward, we're seeking a dynamic and strategic-minded Franchise Manager. This senior role is essential for the development and implementation of our wider franchise initiative, playing a pivotal role in overseeing our existing Tutor Support Team and spearheading the establishment of the new Trainer provision, working to recruit partner organisations and trainer candidates.

As the lead of the Tutor and Trainer Team, you'll drive the identification and acquisition of new business opportunities, involving leveraging your expertise in business development to expand our reach and promote the success of the Makaton Tutor and Trainer franchise model. Your strategic oversight and effective management practices will be instrumental in maintaining the integrity of our brand and ensuring the continued growth and impact of our franchise network.

This is a unique opportunity to join a passionate and dedicated team, where you'll have the chance to make a tangible difference in the lives of individuals served by Makaton. If you're driven, innovative, and ready to take on a leadership role in driving social impact, we invite you to join us on this rewarding journey

This is a full time (35 hours per week), permanent role, working under a hybrid model. Please contact [email protected] for a full job description, salary details, and details of how to apply.

Closing date for applications is Tuesday 26th March.

No agencies please.

See also: Working for us

Published

14th March 2024

News

We are seeking new Trustees
06/12/2023

We are seeking new Trustees

Photo of three people sitting around a laptop
The deadline for applications has now passed.

Photo of three people sitting around a laptopWe are seeking new Trustees to join The Makaton Charity’s Board to provide advice, guidance, and challenge the evolution of strategy, plans, and projects.

Specifically, we are looking for those who bring either finance, legal, digital marketing or grant-making expertise.

The Makaton Charity is partnering with Nurole, the leading board-level search specialist, to find Trustees. You can find out more and register your initial interest here: bit.ly/MakatonTrustees

For any questions or problems, please contact [email protected]

Published

8th December 2023

News

Olaf Learns Makaton
20/11/2023

Olaf Learns Makaton

Team Olaf to the Rescue front cover

Olaf is a three-year-old fox red Labrador therapist and a published author. He was invited to speak at the Cheltenham Literature Festival 2023. Olaf is a family pet registered with the Pets As Therapy (PAT) Charity. His job is to make people smile when, with his human mum (a specialist teacher and mindfulness coach), he visits hospitals and schools.

Every Thursday morning, Olaf goes to Battledown Special School. He enjoys his visits so much that he set his second book there! Team Olaf to the Rescue is a heartwarming story about his classroom adventures (it very cleverly rhymes!). With help from his merry band of canine mates, Olaf saves the school’s Christmas celebrations and gives the children a party they will never forget. All the dogs in Team Olaf are Olaf's real friends whom he sees every day on his walks. They all play a vital role in the story, showing kindness, creativity, and bravery. Fun activities are added to stimulate the reader's imagination and memory.

Olaf in book shop Battledown School uses Makaton as part of their teaching and learning, so we included their symbols in the book to enable more of Olaf’s human friends to enjoy it. We were delighted Makaton wanted to be involved in our project and are grateful to the Team for their expertise and patience. They provided symbols for the concepts/story words and explained where to place them on the page, so that the story makes sense to the Makaton reader.

Olaf's first book, Mr. Olaf the Therapist, is a mindfulness scrapbook, diarying his experiences in a mainstream school and his work in the NHS. As a PAT dog, Olaf visits Cheltenham General Hospital where he is a valued member of the Knightsbridge (Gastric) and Critical Care Teams. He has been doing this for over two years but is still banned from the staff rooms because of the doughnuts... It is a privilege and humbling to be welcomed so warmly by patients, their families, and Olaf’s NHS colleagues. Olaf also shares his lifestyle wisdom with self-care activities and mindfulness questions to help us reflect on our own work/life balance.

Olaf gives all the proceeds from his books to the Pets as Therapy charity. He attends promotional PAT events e.g., Crufts and Goodwuff.

For more information about PAT and/or to buy Olaf’s books, please visit Pets as Therapy.

Rachel and Olaf Flower

Author

Rachel and Olaf Flower

20th November 2023

 

Out and about

Ava's Communication Journey
17/11/2023

Ava's Communication Journey

Ava with her mum and dad

Ava, with her Mother and FatherOur daughter Ava was born with left sided CDH (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia) which was undiagnosed until birth. She had this repaired at just 4 days old and spent her first 5 weeks of life in neonatal intensive care and subsequently has a delay in her development, resulting in Ava reaching her milestones much later. Talking is one of those milestones she hasn’t quite reached yet at 4 years old.

Ava’s understanding of what we were saying to her was always there but as she couldn’t say what she wanted to back to us, it was so disheartening as she’s such a happy, smiley little girl, who is cheeky and full of life.

Before starting nursery, Ava would make sounds but would often become very frustrated, very quickly at not being able to communicate successfully with us. Her frustration would mean she would grab and pull us to get our attention or for something she wanted. She would also pinch and push other children on play dates, which was really hard to deal with. It often made me feel very anxious at the thought of having to constantly watch her and be ready to pull her away if she got too ‘handsy’. At times, it felt easier just to say we couldn’t make a play date, just to avoid being in what I felt was an uncomfortable situation.

When Ava started going to nursery in the months before turning 3, she had the 1:1 support from Sarah who is also a Makaton tutor. Sarah would explain the use of Makaton to us but initially we felt that Ava may not be ready to learn and follow a new skill like that, as her attention span was so minimal and she would never hold her attention to any one thing, for more than a matter of seconds. We also thought that it would somehow stop her from speaking.

Ava using Makaton symbols

We noticed as Ava spent more time with Sarah in nursery setting that she would start to use hand gestures at home or physically move us to what she wanted to do or to get something that she needed.

When we would pick Ava up from nursery, Sarah would say what sign(s) they’d been learning that day and we would see that Ava would then start repeating those signs at home. The first signs Ava made were amazing and it felt quite emotional because Ava had a huge beaming smile on her face and you could see her happy, that at last, she could sign something that we understood. She could finally communicate effectively with me and her dad and the more she did, the calmer she seemed to become. It was at this point we felt that it was time we looked at completing Makaton level 1 to gather a better understanding and to be able to use it properly to make a difference to Ava’s communication.

We talked about Makaton with our family and we had a positive reaction, although the grandparents were more apprehensive about trying to learn a new skill and retaining the information. They were also nervous about having to practice the signs in a group setting (even though we are all family and know each other!) and feeling embarrassed if they couldn’t do the sign properly. But the main thing was all the family wanted to come together and do it for Ava as everyone could see it’s the one thing that seemed to be working for her communication.

Ava reading a book

We did level 1 Makaton over two sessions which worked really well. Once we got into the sessions, everyone settled in and felt so comfortable with Sarah’s teaching, we had a laugh whilst learning and everyone felt happy they’d given it a go and actually learnt some!

Since completing level 1 and incorporating Makaton into our daily lives, Ava’s so happy and the frustration has disappeared!

Now, Ava can sign what she needs; food she wants to eat, whether she needs a drink, what she’d like to watch on tv, what she wants to play with, where she wants to go; the list seems endless now, whereas before we’d struggle to know any of that. She can go and play at grandparents and they understand what she wants now, they also have grown with confidence in using Makaton and have even carried on watching extra Makaton videos to help.

Ava has settled very well into nursery and is thriving. Nursery and the early years staff at the setting have also completed Makaton level 1 and 2, which has been amazing. Ava uses Makaton naturally and is saying the words alongside signing, with many more new words coming, whilst developing new sounds. She tries so hard to repeat a word you say to her and her confidence in talking is growing so much, she is very vocal and jabbers away in her own language a lot now, practicing sounds! It’s so lovely to hear and we’re so happy for her that she finally feels understood. We also feel very proud of her for all the progress she’s made. The future for her communicating doesn’t seem quite so daunting, we’re excited!

Written by Natalie –
Mum of the gorgeous Ava 😊

Author

Natalie

17th November 2023

At home

Special iApps acquisition
12/11/2023

Notice of Special iApps acquisition

 

We would like to announce that The Makaton Charity has successfully acquired the intellectual property rights of Special iApps, a renowned creator of award-winning educational apps. These apps are specially designed to provide support to children with special educational needs, fostering language and communication development.

With Special iApps, users can effortlessly create personalised learning resources in minutes, making it easier for children to access the educational tools they need.

We are excited to continue the legacy of Special iApps and further enhance the impact these remarkable apps have on individual's learning journeys.

Next steps

Our goal is to enhance and modernise the existing Special iApps functionality through updated technology and advancements. We are aiming to relaunch the apps by Summer 2024.

We are delighted to announce that as part of their membership package, all Makaton Members will have exclusive access to the apps. This means that Makaton Members will be able to benefit from the incredible features and educational resources offered by Special iApps, further enriching their membership experience.

Previous Special iApps customers

The apps will also be made available free of charge to previous Special iApps customers for a period of six months. During this time, we encourage users to provide feedback on the development and usability of the apps. This valuable input will help us further improve and refine the apps.

Sharing your data

If you were a previous Special iApps customer and you would rather not have your personal data stored with The Makaton Charity, please email [email protected] and we'll ensure it is removed from our database.

More information regarding these exciting developments will be released later in the year. Makaton has worked closely with the Founders of Special iApps and is committed to continuing and expanding upon the remarkable work they have accomplished.

Stay tuned for more updates on how we will be taking this important work forward!

The Makaton Charity

Published

29th September 2023

News

Makaton in Adult Care
24/08/2023

Makaton in Adult Care

Amy signing at laptop“I wanted to give the adults we support the voice they had lost”

Amy is a Learning Partner at Alternative Futures Group (AFG), one of the largest not-for-profit Health and Social Care charities in the North West. AFG provides person-centred support to people with a range of learning disabilities and mental health conditions.

“Makaton first came on my radar in my previous role at AFG as a Support Worker, when I was told one of the people I supported used it to communicate. I familiarised myself by looking through their support plan and Makaton communication books, but without formal training I had no idea if I was getting it right or not.

I found it really difficult to not be able to communicate with the person I was there to support in the way that they needed.

I later moved into a new role in the Learning and Development team at AFG, where I am responsible for delivering training to our Support Workers and other operational colleagues.

I was still interested in Makaton, so I signed up to a taster session in Chester. I was so inspired by the session that I knew I wanted to become a Tutor myself and bring these skills to my role at AFG. I immediately booked onto my Level 1 and 2 courses, which I completed while also working full time.

What struck me most during these courses was that I was often the only person there from an adult focused background. I knew from my experience how difficult it could be for young people who had learnt to use Makaton as their main method of communication, to then come into an adult care setting where they were not understood and effectively had no voice. I wanted to give the adults we support the voice they had lost - it is a basic need.

I completed my level three Makaton training whist 37 weeks pregnant and my level four with an 8-week-old baby! I was determined.

AFG have been incredibly supportive and allowed me to study for my exams during work time. As an organisation, AFG recognise the positive impact of having support staff upskilled in areas such as Makaton.

I officially qualified as a Tutor in July 2023, and I loved absolutely every second of it.

I am proud to be the charity’s first licensed Makaton Tutor and I am now planning to introduce a ‘Communication Club’ to share learning, resources, and ideas on how to implement Makaton with colleagues who support people who use the language, or have specific communication needs.

I would ultimately love to help AFG to achieve Makaton Friendly status so that we can use it to enhance more people’s lives.”

Click here to find Makaton Training 

 
Author
Amy
23rd August 2023

At work

Dunholme Pre-School
03/07/2023

Dunholme Pre-School

Makaton Friendly CertificateAs the school year draws to a close, let's explore the inspiring story of Dunholme Pre-School, a mainstream primary school in Lincolnshire. 

Their Makaton journey began with a single student, suggested to engage with Makaton to support speech development. The staff's open-minded adoption of Makaton and the ensuing positive change not only transformed their teaching approach but also strengthened their commitment to inclusive education.

In the early stages the staff and students began experimenting with Makaton, and they were instantly able to identify its vast benefits. The positive effects on communication and comprehension led to a unanimous decision: Makaton training for all. Embracing this challenge, the staff has since then incorporated Makaton in their everyday interactions, skillfully utilising signs and symbols within the educational environment.

The Makaton 'Sign of the Week'

This is a particularly popular initiative among the students. Each week, different classes or pupil groups showcase the selected sign, increasing awareness and promoting regular use. Involving students in such participative learning methods has helped cement Makaton as an essential communication tool within the school.

"Makaton is more welcoming to non-verbal children as some of the signs are quite self-explanatory and it makes them feel able to communicate, if they can’t or do not wish to speak" - Gayle Smith, Manager of Dunholme Pre-school

This summer, we celebrate the determination and success of schools like Dunholme Pre-School, who lead by example, making education accessible and engaging for every child.

Click here to find out more about how to become Makaton Friendly 

Author

Dunholme Pre-School

3rd July 2023

At school

Ella’s Makaton Journey
03/07/2023

Ella’s Makaton Journey

Ella signing 'Love'Ella is currently completing her fourth year of Norland training as a Newly Qualified Nanny in North Somerset near Bristol before she earns her professional Norland Nanny status.

My Makaton journey began in 2016, when I worked as a buddy through North Somerset Council providing care for children and young people with additional needs aged 4-16– many of whom used Makaton to communicate. It was then that I was able to witness how truly special Makaton is. Children in my care were able to express themselves independently, which meant that their frustration was eased, and preferences could be communicated. This was such an incredible moment to witness and I knew, there and then, that it was something I wanted to understand and become involved in.

Throughout my Norland training, I continued to develop my newfound passion by completing a Level 1 Makaton course, which I loved!

As a way of utilising the signs I had learnt on my Level 1 course, I began to sign songs and stories to aid my development. I also used Makaton whilst I nannied. It was so lovely to see that the early exposure to signing, in conjunction with speech, led the little people in my care to develop enhanced verbal skills, something I felt honoured to help with! As my confidence grew, I wanted to share this passion. I taught and signed a poem to students from my cohort (known as a set) at Norland, and together we performed to University of Seitoku students who were visiting Norland on a study trip from Japan.

Makaton quickly became one of the most enjoyable and rewarding skills that I have learnt. I started an Instagram account called @nannyellalynne, as a platform where I could share my love of Makaton and connect with others who felt this way.

When the Covid 19 pandemic hit, I produced daily sign videos showing what I had learnt, hoping to inspire others and revise my knowledge.

Knowing and using Makaton has impacted my daily life hugely. I feel proud that, by continuing my development, I have been able to create an open line of communication between myself and all groups of people who I encounter in my life. This is something I feel incredibly proud of.

In my line of work as a nanny, I can now use Makaton with the little people in my care to support them to develop their communication, language, and literacy skills. Signing while speaking has been shown to encourage the development of communication and language skills and, as a caregiver, gives me a greater understanding of the wants and needs of the babies and children in my care, which can help to reduce frustration.

Most recently, I have completed my Level 2 Makaton training, which I have really enjoyed. I cannot wait to complete Levels 3 and 4.

Makaton sign communication is so beautiful and creative and should be recognized for its true potential. For many people signing is their superpower and I, for one, hope more people will engage with this beautiful language and learn a new mode of communication.

Let’s continue to change the world one sign at a time!

Would you like to start or continue your Makaton journey? Click here to find training 

Author

Ella K

3rd July 2023

At work