Dear Teacher

Dear Teacher,

You are asked to read this because you have a child in your class who stutters. Stuttering changes from moment to moment and is different in each child. That makes it difficult to deal with. Quite possibly the stuttering of this particular child is no problem for you or for any of the other children. But it is also possible that the other children react to the stuttering and that you yourself are not always sure how best to handle the problem.

Teachers usually have a lot of questions...

  • can I be of any help?
  • should I make the child read aloud?
  • should I talk about the stuttering with the child?
  • should I discuss it with the whole class?
  • should I ignore the stuttering altogether?
  • should I look straight at the child when he stutters or is it better to look away?

These are all legitimate questions. The answers differ for each child who stutters. You could begin by asking if the child has speech therapy, and if so, contact the therapist about what you can or should do. It has often been possible to make a plan by which the child is effectively helped to cope with the school situation.

Most children hate to be set apart, marked as different from the others. So be sure the child who stutters does not get special privileges or is excluded from any class activity. If the stuttering is severe, it is advisable to take the child aside and tackle the issue openly. Some children will appreciate this and feel relieved. Others will refuse to discuss the problem. It's best to respect this and not force the child.

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Stuttering is just as hard for the child as it is for you, well, probably harder. So he or she needs all the emotional support they can get. You will help the child by accepting him as he is, and by being warm, understanding and supportive in your attitude towards him or her. You won't have to show this openly, the child will be aware of it and feel more safe. Thank you for your help.

Adapted excerpt from Sometimes I Just Stutter, by Eelco de Geus.

Copyright 1999-2015 by Stuttering Foundation of America