School is back in session and teachers have become acquainted with their students. Most children have some sort of challenge in the classroom and for some that can be stuttering. Being knowledgeable on how to help the child who stutters is critical for their educational and social development.
Here are the answers from the experts at the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation to the top five questions teachers often ask about stuttering.
Be a good communicator yourself:
• Keep eye contact and give the child enough time to finish speaking.
• Try not to fill in words or sentences.
• Let the child know by your manner and actions that you are listening to what she says – not how she says it.
• Model wait time. Take two seconds before you answer a child’s questions and insert more pauses into your own speech to help reduce speech pressure.
• Do not make remarks like “slow down,” “take a deep breath,” “relax” or “think about what you’re going to say, then say it.” This kind of advice is simply not helpful.
It’s always best to check with the child about what he would like you to do. Children vary greatly in how they want their teachers and peers to respond.
One child may want his teacher to reduce her expectations for his participation, calling on him only if his hand is raised or allowing him to take a pass during activities such as round-robin reading. Another may want to participate fully.
Deal with teasing of a child who stutters just as you would with any other child who is being teased.
• Listen to the child and provide support right away. Don’t dismiss it with a remark such as “Everybody teases.”
• Discuss problem solving and coping strategies for teasing and bullying with the child. These strategies may also have been a part of speech therapy.
• Educate others. Talk with the class about teasing and bullying in general. The child who stutters is probably not the only one being bullied.
Help make oral reports and reading aloud a positive experience for the child who stutters. Together, you and the child can develop a plan, considering:
• Order. Consider whether she wants to be one of the first to present, in the middle, or one of the last to present.
• Practice opportunities. Find ways he can practice that will help him feel more comfortable, such as at home, with you, with a friend, or at a speech therapy session.
• Audience size. Consider whether the child should give the oral report in private, in a small group, or in front of the entire class.
• Other issues. Also consider whether she should be timed, or whether grading criteria should be modified because of her stuttering.
Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation is known internationally for the quality of its resource materials available to the public.
You can find free streaming videos, downloadable books, brochures, newsletters and referrals through its website Stutt
Jane Fraser is president of the Stuttering Foundation and co-author of If Your Child Stutters: A Guide for Parents, which is available through Amazo
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