For some reason, when our seven-year-old is at school, within the first hour, his teacher says he begins to stutter and just withdraws. However, we have never heard him do this. How should we approach the situation in a healthy and non-aggressive manner?
When a child stutters in any situation, it is always good for the parents and the teacher to work together as a team. A great resource for both is the Stuttering Foundation's free brochure, 8 Tips for Teachers, that can be found at www.StutteringHelp.org. It offers ideas that are useful for everyone working with your child. A few of these tips include:
- Don’t tell the child “slow down” or “ just relax.”
- Don’t complete words for the child or talk for them.
- Help all members of the class learn to take turns talking and listening. All children, especially those who stutter, find it much easier to talk when there are few interruptions and they have the listener’s attention.
- Expect the same quality and quantity of work from the student who stutters as the others who don’t.
- Speak with the student in an unhurried way, pausing frequently.
- Convey that you are listening to the content of the message, not how it’s said.
- Have a one-on-one conversation with the student who stutters about needed accommodations in the classroom. Respect the student’s needs, but do not be enabling.
- Don’t make stuttering something to be ashamed of; talk about it just like any other topic.
You may want to consult with a speech-language pathologist and discuss your observations with them. If you, the teacher and the speech pathologist agree that your child’s disfluencies are different from other children in the classroom, you may decide as a team to evaluate him for stuttering and possibly begin speech therapy. - Jane Fraser, President, Stuttering Foundation, in Memphis, TN
There are a number of scenarios that could be taking place. Ask his teacher for as much information as possible and what the school offers to accommodate your son. There should be a speech-language pathologist available in your son’s school or within the school district that can help determine specific challenges. In many districts, they are available to come to the school and work with children, while others offer a pull-out program where he is transported to an off-campus location. Either way, get him tested as quickly as can be arranged and don’t be afraid to ask questions to help you understand what is exactly taking place. Find out how you can work closely with the teacher, pathologist and your son to make the experience a positive one and don’t forget to ask about sessions and treatment throughout the summer.
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About Jodie Lynn:
Jodie Lynn is an award-winning, internationally syndicated family/health and education columnist and best-selling author. Her column Parent to Parent™ (www.ParentToParent.com) has been successful for more than 13 years. She is a regular contributor to several sites and has written four books and contributed to three others, one of which was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Her latest books are Mom CEO (Chief Everything Officer) - Having, Doing, and Surviving It All! and Syndication Secrets - What No One Will Tell You!