MEMPHIS, Tenn. (July 17, 2008) — It's the first day of school and one of your pupils stutters. If you're the teacher, what should you do?
Kids aren't the only ones who are apprehensive on the first day of school. Teachers are too. If a student stutters, should you call on him in class, or will that make it worse? Do you talk with him about his stuttering, or ignore it hoping it goes away? Does it help to tell the student to relax or slow down?
A new tip sheet, 8 Tips for Teachers, published by the Stuttering Foundation, helps educators work with students who stutter. If you're a parent of a student who stutters, give the teacher a copy before the first day of school.
“Young children are busily learning to talk,” explains Lisa Scott, Ph.D., of The Florida State University and author of the tip sheet. “As such, they may have effortless repetitions and prolongations of sounds. In most instances, this is very normal. If parents and teachers listen to and answer these young children in a patient, calm, unemotional way, the child's speech will probably return to normal.”
“Some children, however, will go beyond the normal and begin to repeat and prolong sounds markedly,” explains Scott. “They may begin to struggle, tense up, and become frustrated in their efforts to talk. These children need help.”
“Any time teachers are concerned about a child's fluency,” notes Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation, “they should consult with the school speech clinician as well as the parents to make sure their approach is consistent. Talk with the child privately and reassure him or her of your support; let them know that you are aware of their stuttering and that you accept it — and them.”
For more answers to questions about stuttering, download a free copy of 8 Tips for Teachers or contact the Stuttering Foundation at 800-992-9392.