Teachers of stammering children

Primary school child

 

Top tips for teachers!

Did you know?

... stammering is repeating words, repeating sounds, stretching sounds or getting stuck on a word

Primary school child

Top Tips For Teachers Of Primary School Children

• Our short film and book are invaluable sources of information
• Some of the tips for the younger child are also right for this age group too - talking sensitively to the parents, referring to a Speech and Language Therapist or contacting the therapist if the child has one
• Talk to the child; if it is clear that they are aware of their stammer, then it will be appropriate (with parents' permission) to take them to one side and talk to them about it. Find out whether there are things the child wants to do more of, but needs a bit of support, or whether there are things that are really worrying them e.g. taking messages to another teacher or participating in circle time
• Try to be flexible with oral tasks. Routines like answering the register can be a daily nightmare to the child who stammers - is there another way? E.g. everyone putting their hands up instead. This is a good topic to discuss in your 1:1 session and the suggestion sheets are a great starting point
• Paired reading can be really good practice and often results in the child reading more fluently too
• Anticipating a turn in reading aloud can be especially difficult. There is time for real anxiety to build up when there is a fixed routine for this (for example row-by-row or in alphabetical order). Choosing at random or having an early turn can be helpful - again checking with the child is a good policy
• Raise awareness amongst all staff, including cover/supply teachers, secretaries, assistants, dinner ladies, etc
• Don't advise the child to take a deep breath or to slow down. It probably won't help for more than a few moments
• Don't finish the child's words for them - it may increase anxiety and tension
• Reduce time pressures to speak quickly
• Deal with bullying and teasing immediately - these make stammering
much worse
• Deal with unkind behaviour - e.g. mimicking or sniggering
• Praise them for the things that they do well, e.g. listening, taking a turn, being polite, helpful with tidying, etc

English as an additional language

Over half the world's population is estimated to be bilingual and about 5% of children start to stammer. Lots of children who stammer will therefore be learning to speak more than one language. However, being bilingual does not cause stammering and lots of children learn two languages and don't stammer. For some children, learning two languages at once can be difficult to manage and may impact on their fluency.

The general advice for supporting children who stammer, who are learning more than one language, is very similar to the suggestions outlined above. It is important to consider the language skills of the child and how long they have been learning English, to know what can be expected of them linguistically. Children who are delayed in their language development will benefit from additional time to plan and organise what they want to say and to retrieve the vocabulary they need.

Follow the link for some additional suggestions for parents of bilingual children who stammer, for helpful ways they can support their child at home.