Teachers - primary school children

Some tips for teachers in supporting the child at primary school

Younger children

  • The Stammering Information Programme short film (click here) raises awareness among all education staff about stammering and how to support the pupil who stammers in school
  • If you think that a child may be stammering, it is really important to discuss this with the parents/carers. If all agree that there is a cause for concern, then the child needs to be referred to a Speech and Language Therapist
  • If the child seems to be aware of the stammer, for example the child is really struggling or giving up, then it may be helpful to mention it thoughtfully (discuss this with the parents first). For example: "That was a hard word to say but well done, you tried your best"
  • Avoid saying the word for the child. It is very tempting to help a child when they are stammering but it is better to give them the time to finish it for themselves
  • Being patient and giving time is really helpful
  • If the child is aware and wants to talk about the stammer, you might come up with some helpful ideas together. For example, it is harder to be fluent when everyone is talking at once, so knowing that they will get their turn will help the child
  • Help him to feel that there is no hurry to finish, by slowing down your own rate of talking (this will also make you aware of how hard it is to slow our talking down!)
  • Please don't tell the child to slow down or take a deep breath. The former is impossible and the latter can become part of the struggling to talk
  • Praise the child for the things that they are doing well. Try not to focus only on his talking
  • Don't ask lots of questions, one after another. One will do! Remember to give them time to reply
  • Keep your language simple. This will help the child not to make their sentences too long and complicated, which can affect fluency.

Older primary school children

  • The Stammering Information Programme short film (click here) raises awareness among all education staff about stammering and how to support the pupil who stammers in school
  • Talk to the child; if it is clear that they are aware of their stammer, then it will be appropriate (with parents' permission) to take them to one side and talk to them about it. Find out whether there are things the child wants to do more of, but needs a bit of support, or whether there are things that are really worrying them e.g. taking messages to another teacher or participating in circle time
  • Try to be flexible with oral tasks. Routines like answering the register can be a daily nightmare to the child who stammers - is there another way? E.g. everyone putting their hands up instead. This is a good topic to discuss in your 1:1 session
  • Paired reading can be really good practice and often results in the child reading more fluently too
  • Anticipating a turn in reading aloud can be especially difficult. There is time for real anxiety to build up when there is a fixed routine for this (for example row-by-row or in alphabetical order). Choosing at random or having an early turn can be helpful - again checking with the child is a good policy
  • Raise awareness amongst all staff, including cover/supply teachers, secretaries, assistants, dinner ladies, etc.
  • Don't advise the child to take a deep breath or to slow down. It probably won't help for more than a few moments
  • Don't finish the child's words for them - it may increase anxiety and tension
  • Reduce time pressures to speak quickly
  • Deal with bullying and teasing immediately - these make stammering much worse
  • Deal with unkind behaviour - e.g. mimicking or sniggering
  • Praise them for the things that they do well, e.g. having a go, listening, taking a turn, being polite, helpful with tidying, etc.
Working on it!