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Teaching Tips to Help Children Who Stutter

written by: AlyssaAst • edited by: Beth Taylor • updated: 1/6/2012

Stuttering is hard for young children to deal with, and many elementary school teachers are not equipped handle this issue. Luckily, there are many teaching techniques that can be used in the classroom to help children who stutter.

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    Teaching children who stutter can be a difficult task. Initially, you will probably have to devote extra time and attention to the student. With a few different teaching techniques, a child’s stuttering can improve and even be eliminated. It is very important for stuttering children to feel comfortable speaking at school because if they are not, their grades and education will suffer. It is important to expect the same quality of work out of the child who stutters as you do the rest of the class despite the child’s speech complication.

    By the time children reach elementary school, it is relatively obvious to tell which children have speech impediments. Stuttering produces obvious signs of speech complications because the child often has sudden prolongation of sounds or repetition of sound. A stuttering child can become noticeably tense and frustrated when trying to speak resulting in a struggle to talk. If you suspect a child may suffer from stuttering issues you can speak to the school's speech pathologist. If you are unsure who your school's speech pathologist is The Stuttering Foundation of America offers free referrals and other information about stuttering.

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    Speak With the Child

    Take the opportunity to speak with a child who stutters privately. Explain to the child that speaking is part of a learning process and when we learn we sometimes make mistakes. Tell the child that it is nothing to be ashamed of. It is just part of learning and with practice the mistakes can improve. By speaking with the child, you let him know that you are aware of the stuttering and you are there to support and help him.

    When talking to a child with a stuttering problem it is important to speak at a steady pace and pause frequently. If the child is speaking to you or others, you should not tell the child to slow down or relax because it could embarrass him and make the problem worse. Never complete sentence or words if the child seems to be having trouble, and do not talk for him.

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    Teasing Policy

    Create a no teasing policy in the classroom. Teasing can cause a child’s stutter to become worse. If a child has been teased, speak with him calmly and discuss ways he can properly respond if he is teased again. The child that did the teasing needs to be spoken with and told why teasing is inappropriate and the consequences if the teasing continues.

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    Reading Aloud

    When the classroom reads aloud it can make a child stutter worse because of added tension and anticipation. Stuttering children can often read aloud without stuttering if they read in unison with another voice. When the classroom has to read aloud, use the teaching technique of allowing the children to read in pairs in unison. This eliminates the feeling of being singled out for the child that stutters and can build that child’s confidence. Practicing reading aloud at home will also improve the stuttering.

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    Answering Questions

    When a teacher has a child who stutters, the teacher may be reluctant to ask the child a question because of the risk of embarrassing him. With an easy teaching technique, the child will easily answer questions aloud with the rest of the class. Before beginning to ask questions, assure the class they will have as much time as they need to answer. This will relieve stress from the child who stutters. When asking the child a question, decide on a question that will require a short simple answer with few words. It is best to pick the child that stutters early when answering questions because as the child sits waiting for a turn, the anticipation and tension can build up and cause stuttering. To make speaking aloud more comfortable for the stuttering child enforce a 'listen while others are speaking' rule. This will reduce the number of interruptions.

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    References:

    “Notes to a Teacher: The Child Who Stutters at School” By Lisa Scott, Ph. D. 2/24/2009

    The Stuttering Foundation of America

    “How to Help A Stuttering Child” Reviewed by John M. Goldenring, MD 1/24/08

    WebMD.com