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Why Communication Fascinates Me – Guest blog by Martha Webster, Communication Ambassador

I have been thinking a lot about where my interest with how we communicate started and I think it began with dealing with my own dyslexia whilst at university studying Fine Art Sculpture. I had received extra help in classroom and exams since age 11 but as I became interested in artists I began to become interested in myself and my dyslexia.  I created an installation called ‘I am managing my dyslexia’ which was really about how every book I pick up about dyslexia was really hard for me to read and was aimed at adults helping children with their dyslexia not people with dyslexia looking at how they could learn how to use their dyslexia to their advantage and how to manage issues that arise with being dyslexic.

After I left university, I continued to be fascinated by words and I moved to Berlin, where I taught English as a Foreign Language to 3 -7 year olds. I began to discover more about how we learn words and that song, rhythm, actions, and repetition are key ingredients to learning. The children had a real thirst for learning, particularly the 3 year olds and this amazed me.  So after I had my first son back in the UK, I began working towards an NVQ level 2 in childcare learning development.  This led me to getting a job as Teaching Assistant, where my role was to support one child with cerebral palsy and another child with his language development. Doing this, I saw what a struggle it was for these children to process the language used in class and why language, talking and listening are so important to help our children achieve what they are capable of inside and outside the classroom.

When we moved to Stratford upon Avon, I began going to the Children’s Centre regularly. Corrin, the Centre’s Chatter Matters Champion offered me information to become a Parent Communication Ambassador. I was really unsure what it was and what was expected of me but I thought it was worth going to the meeting to find out. We attended a training session on the importance of children’s communication and how parents can develop these skills. Since the training, in my role as an I CAN Communication Ambassador, I have enjoyed talking to lots of parents and carers about the importance of language development. I have also been able to organise two different events to encourage parents to come along and learn about communication. The first event was a drama workshop for under 5’s where we re-enacted Oliver Jeffers Story ‘The Way Back Home’. This gave parents a chance to have face to face time with their children, learning to repeat phrases and get totally involved with their children’s imagination. That event was a great success so I decided I wanted to create some more immersive play and communication development workshops. So with support from I CAN and the Children’s Centre, we put together a funding application to the local town’s trust to create 6 free workshops for under 5’s. So far they are proving to be very popular and great fun! Check out my blog for more information on the workshops and photos http://marthawebster.blogspot.co.uk/

I am really enjoying being an I CAN Communication Ambassador and plan to continue to work with art, language and children in the future.