Tips for Teachers to Deal with Students who Stutter
It is no secret that educators have an influential role when it comes to dealing with children who stutter. Teachers, owing to their inherent patient and empathetic demeanor, are expected to exercise their skills more elaborately when it comes to interacting with children with a stutter. In this blog, we let you in on some useful tips and tricks that teachers can include in their repertoire and use them to improve their rapport with children who stutter.
- Openness and Rapport Building: It is typical for children who stutter to appear withdrawn, reserved, and introverted in social settings. To break the ice, the teacher is advised to initiate an open-minded conversation with the child about their stuttering condition. Tell the child that stuttering is not a big deal. Ask the child what are the tasks and activities that they face difficulty speaking in. Seek suggestions as to what you could do to make the child feel comfortable communicating in class. Having such open talks and discussions will allow the child to start trusting you, and help build a healthy teacher-student dynamic in the long run.
- Be a Role Model Communicator: When a child stutters while speaking in class, avoid sentences such as “Relax” or “Slow Down.” On the contrary, you must encourage the child to finish what they are saying without rushing them. In such situations, you must maintain eye-contact with the child and emanate confidence in your face so that the child feels at ease. To be a role model communicator for children who stutter, teachers must show interest in what the child is saying, and not on how the child is saying it. If you find that the child is experiencing speech pressure, you can diffuse the situation by changing your speech pattern. Try to include more pauses in your conversation with the child so that it gives the latter the impression and belief that it is completely normal and acceptable to talk slowly.
- Find out What the Child Wants on Their “Off Days”: We all have our difficult days, and stuttering kids are no exception. As a teacher, it is best to be ahead in these matters. If a stuttering child is feeling off on certain days, it is recommended that the teacher go up to him/her and talk about how they would be like to be dealt with during such a time. This forthright approach is ideal because most stuttering children have a preference for how they would like to be spoken to when they are having a difficult speaking day. Some children like and want to be treated like on any other day. While for some children who stutter, they wish for their teacher to not verbally engage with them – except when necessary. In a nutshell, the teacher must ensure that the child does not feel pressured on his/her difficult speaking day.
- Inform Other Students, Make Them Aware and Understand: Shoulder the responsibility of having “the talk” with other students and classmates about the child’s situation. Inform them about what stuttering means, and how must the students behave and interact with a child who stutters. Such a knowledge transfer session will play a pivotal role in ensuring that other students and classmates do not ridicule or make fun of the child when he/she stutters in class.
Stuttering children have the potential to be excellent learners. If teachers follow these advises and are patient, well-informed, encouraging, and supportive of their efforts, they will create a highly inclusive, empathetic and thus beneficial environment for everyone.