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Teaching Makaton...

Discussion in 'Primary' started by littlebitstressed, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. Has anyone with experience of using and teaching using Makaton got any advice for me? I teach a little boy (who's just turned 6) who cannot speak, but is hopefully learning to use an AAC device (think it's a bit like an ipad) in the summer term. I would love to use Makaton more in the classroom, but my brain just doesn't seem able to learn the signs effectively. I'd love to teach more signs to my class, but finding time, and teaching them in front of the very confident 1:1 TA is a very daunting thought.
  2. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I don't teach using Makaton but the staff in our FSU do as we have a child with Downs syndrome who has no speech. Our head arranged training for all the staff.
  3. Thanks for that, we had whole-school training in 2010 when he started with us, but I just can't remember the signs! :(
  4. Makaton is a really useful communication aid.

    A good way to introduce it is through singing and signing.

    There is a Makaton web site and you could look at signing hands.

    You need to think about what the child needs to be able to communicate ie their wants and needs.

    Also what motivates them to sign, so using their interests eg animals or First signing and then a special toy

    Hope that makes some sense.
  5. What I meant in the above post when I said 'thanks for that' (it made no sense at all when I reread it!), was that it's nice to see someone in a similar boat as me. Any advice on teaching with Makaton is very gratefully received for me too!
  6. Thanks for feedback! Giraffe, got to admit, I was a little confused! :-S Guessing you have a similar boy - you're lucky to have had whole-school training, we haven't had any yet, but it's booked for April. What are people's thoughts on a power-hungry SEN TA teaching the class, teacher and class TAs some Makaton each week? She's very young and enjoys belittling people as often as possible - I'm not sure it's a good idea, but I'd like to know if anyone has tried this before.
  7. I can only speak as a parent, my daughter is non verbal and uses makaton to communicate. Would you be able to get hold of the makaton core book, or one of the pocket books with the first stages of signs? These also have picture symbols that you can use as a picture exchange system.
    You could pick out together which signs would be the most useful, such as thank you, more, finished, play, toilet etc. Start off with just a few words. Is there a speech and language therapist involved who could give you more input on using a total communication approach? It would also be beneficial to work with the parents so that you teach the same signs. Katie has a book in which we and her nursery school put in the signs she uses and any varieties so that we can all understand.
    I'd be wary of your TA teaching the signs if she can't do it in a way that wont make children feel bad. It would be best if it could come across as a game or something fun. You don't want to single the boy out more than he probably is already.
  8. The best way to learn makaton is to watch episodes of Something Special on CBeebies. It features a brilliant children's entertainer called Justin Fletcher and his alter ego Mr Tumble and they teach and use makaton signs as part of the programme. There are games on the CBeebies website also which you could use to help with your learning - and also for your pupil to use as a learning tool. I bet he already watches the programme and will get really excited when he see Mr Tumble!
    I had to learn it as well as my daughter has Down Syndrome but I struggled until I started watching Something Special.
  9. Wow, love the idea for singing! Will definitley try that.Thanks
  10. I'm a parent of a young person with Downs Syndrome who used Makaton a lot when first speaking. I now work as a TA with a child with global delay and no speech. I have tried to teach the whole school makaton by introducing one or two signs per week to all the teachers at our briefing on a Monday. They then teach them to their classes. All the advice given in the previous posts is great, but remember Makaton is just part of communication - use pictures, gestures, signs, photos and the communication aids. We have a go-talk - you record words/phrases that are spoken when a picture button is pressed (you add your own pictures ) This can be whatever is important to the child eg snack, drink, playtime, game, hello etc. We've used Something Special in school and lots of children have said they have watched it at home to learn to sign so they can sign back to our child. It's very sad to feel that you are wary of the TA - it is supposed to be a team approach in school, she should be supporting you. It's also ok to say that you can't remember signs - I often have to look them up - the children appreciate this as it shows you as a learner along side them and they often forget things. Another tool you may find handy is using the Communicate in print computer programme (widgit). You type in a word eg cat and a picture appears above the word of the cat (rebus like). You can buy the makaton add on for this programme so when you type in cat it will give you the option of the picture or the sign . Signs we are using or trying to learn we have displayed in the classroom to help us all remember.I have really seen the benefits of trying to teach all children to sign - today my child saw a child from another class and signed to him "name?" He was able to say his name and sign back . This was great for my child. Have fun with the Makaton [​IMG]
  11. <h1>hi, i worked with a Downs Syndrome little boy until recently.H e used Makaton and i knew nothing but what his mum was telling/showing me, so my school sent me on a Makaton course which proved invaluable and was great fun to learn! I was very daunted at first with the ammount of signing there was to learn but they explained it so well and we got to practise during the course.You also get a book to keep with all the signs and some to refer to if you do happen to forget any. Good Luck!! </h1>
  12. Does a SALT ever visit your school? Maybe you could ask them to show you one or two new signs each time they come in? Then use those signs straight away and you hopefully won't forget them! Or does the child use Makaton at home? Maybe a parent/carer could show you a sign a day?

    Mr Tumble is a good source for signs - he works with Makaton trainers so all of his signs are correct Makaton. I think the cbeebies website has a whole Something Special section with signs on it. (Sing and Sign type resources are less likely to be pure Makaton - they make up a few of them!)

    A school near us that uses makaton with one of its pupils has a signing choir - they even performed at the Christmas concert - which I think is a lovely idea, and a great way of encouraging other children to learn the signs...

    If you get really stuck trying to find resoures, let me know as I have some. My son has a language delay - he doesn't sign as he has never picked it up - but I've done the courses and have the materials. I can photocopy them for you - Makaton charges so much for them! Message me if you'd like them.
  13. HI,
    My son is in a year 1 class where there is a little girl who uses makaton. She joined them in reception and has various special needs that mean she has a full time TA. The whole class has been involved in learning signs and as far as I'm aware they have never had specific signing lessons. The TA's have obviously been on various courses, use the makaton books, work closely with parents etc so I think they are fairly fluent in signing now and I know often the teacher will look to her if she is stuck for a sign, and they do also have the makaton books to hand and will often look things up. But from the start in reception signs were just introduced at as many times as possible - eg doing the register, asking to go to the toilet, snack time, and mostly through songs. I helped a lot when they were in reception (being a teacher myself we just can't keep away can we!) and they had all sorts of songs about colours, days, animals etc and they would just learn to copy the TA & teacher to learn the signs without really realising it. Now they are in Y1 this is continuing and it is lovely to see all the children responding to the register with signs, and just signing when singing without seeing it as unusual. In fact it was funny at their Christmas party when a song they all could sign came on the CD player and they all sang and signed their way through it and the other Y1 class looked a bit bewildered at what was going on! The school does also have a signing choir which is really lovely to watch too. In the classrooms I have also noticed that there are signs around the room - eg on a display about colours there are little pictures to show the sign, or in the role play area and on the toilet door. I assume that these are official pictures available with the makaton resources. My son loves learning the signs and will come home showing me new ones, or telling me that so-and-so doesn't do it right and this is the right way! Even being parent helper I have picked up a few signs myself and like others have said if you take it small stages - learn to do good morning/good afternoon and use it all the time with the register, then add a new one each day or so you'll probably be surprised how quickly you pick them up. I wouldn't try and fit in separate signing lessons - you need to make it just a natural part of the day's activities. Good luck!!
  14. Twinkles

    Twinkles New commenter

    Have you any suggestions for a Down Syndrome boy we have in YR whose mother is totally opposed to Makaton or any form of signing at all?
    He has communication difficulties but his mother is adamant that he must be treated exactly the same as all the other children and will not hear of using any signs at all. We tried to explain that all children would learn signing and it would be part of their everyday experience but she is totally opposed.
    Any suggestions?
  15. With respect, given that the programme is sponsored by Makaton I would expect the signs to be pretty accurate!!!! My daughter also watched Sing and Sign and those signs are subtly different but basically pretty similar. As both systems are based on simplifying BSL it is to be expected that there will be a crossover. We have never had a problem and Something Special is a really easy way to pick up some core signs!
  16. The main thing to get across to this mum is that Makaton is not to replace speech, but to aid its development! My daughter who has Down Syndrome rarely signs at all but loves watching Something Special and that period of signing really helped her language development - the main thing was that I could grasp what she was trying to say and model the correct speech.
    I should also say that I went on the official Makaton training courses but it was Something Special and Sing and Sign that got me signing.
    PS My daughter is a lively 8 year old in mainstream school and VERY chatty!!!

  17. clear_air

    clear_air New commenter

    You are welcome to put her in touch with me, if you like. PM me, if it'll help. It's so difficult, finding the right way to go about things with a parent who is, understandably, deeply anxious, and doing their best to normalise a situation in a family, as (I suspect) a coping mechanism. I hated other people trying to tell me hat they knew my son better han I did (still do ;)), it might come better from another parent. The other thing that occurs to me is that she might have some history with speech therapists (or other professionals) who have, with the best of intentions, said hard things that have rocked the careful balance when one is trying desperately to hold on to the 'there is more to my son than an extra chromosome' thing and 'just because he has an extra chromosome sloes not automatically mean blah, blah, blah' thing.
  18. Please feel free to put her in touch with me too. My daughter is in Year 3 and does not use makaton much at all - but talks loads - but it did help at that stage to bridge communication difficulties and reinforce her speech. She still uses the sign for /more/ now even though she can say it really clearly LOL!
    Alternatively, point her in the direction of the DSUK email list - there is loads of informed advice there from parents

  19. clear_air

    clear_air New commenter

    Down Syndrome Education Trust also has some useful stuff - and I read an interesting article by hem abou reading - my son has found reading (starting from a whole words standpoint - his brain still soesn't really work fast enough to process the phoneme, and them blend it into a word...but we're getting there!!) an excellent scaffold to speech. (visual prompt together with sign - similar in principle to the jolly phonics thing)

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