Top Tips For Teachers Of Young Children
- If you think that a child may be stammering, it is really important to discuss this with the parents/carers. If all agree that there is a cause for concern, then the child needs to be referred to a Speech and Language Therapist
- If the child seems to be aware of the problem, for example the child is really struggling or giving up, then it is okay to mention it thoughtfully (discuss this with the parents first). For example: "That was a hard word to say but well done, you tried your best"
- Avoid saying the word for the child. It is very tempting to help a child when they are stammering but it is better to give them the time to finish it for themselves
- Being patient and giving time is really helpful
- If the child is aware and wants to talk about the problem, you might come up with some helpful ideas together. For example, it is harder to be fluent when everyone is talking at once, so knowing that they will get their turn will help the child
- Help him to feel that there is no hurry to finish, by slowing down your own rate of talking (this will also make you aware of how hard it is to slow our talking down!)
- Please don't tell the child to slow down or take a deep breath. The former is impossible and the latter can become part of the struggling to talk
- Praise the child for the things that they are doing well. Try not to focus only on his talking
- Don't ask lots of questions, one after another. One will do! Remember to give them time to reply
- Keep your language simple. This will help the child not to make their sentences too long and complicated, which can affect fluency.
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 the child who stammers, 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 this link for some additional suggestions for parents of bilingual children who stammer, for helpful ways you can support your child at home.The primary school child