Before you read the book to your class
If you have a student in your class that you suspect may be stuttering or who you know stutters, please send this book home with the child first and let the parents know that this book will be read aloud in class. The student may not want to have the book read aloud and then sending the book home with the student to read or having it on the book rack for silent reading time may be enough. Please do not make a student who is not comfortable or not ready to have stuttering talked about in the class be forced to do so. Having the student participate in another activity with the resource teacher may be one idea to read it to the class and discuss the topic of stuttering without making the student feel uncomfortable.
Group Discussion – Talking Stick
Most children like to discuss books after they are read. One idea for the group discussion is to have a talking stick passed around in the group. Whoever wants to make a comment or ask a question will need to raise their hand to retrieve the stick. They need to be holding the stick before they can start talking. Then everyone is not allowed to talk until they are holding the talking stick. This activity really slows down group discussion and allows children to really understand WHEN they are interrupting people in general. Not just people who stutter. If a child jumps into the conversation and interrupts, a comment can be said “Opps, I see that you are not holding the talking stick and (input name) is the only person who is allowed to talk right now. It is hard not to interrupt, and we all must practice”
For students who are in older grades, please see the writing prompts tab for writing ideas.
Best Practices for when you have a student who stutters.
When consulting with a registered Speech Language Pathologist in your school or district, they can advise you on the best ways to control the speaking environment, model healthy communication, and how to deal with difficult situations.
Here are some of my thoughts to consider.
- Smaller groups for discussion makes the children feel less competitive when talking because they feel they will have more time to communicate.
- Research shows that coral reading, people reading at the same time, increases fluency in children who stutter. Having children read in pairs for presentations will help reduce anxiety in the child who stutters and build up confidence for future solo presentations.
- Be aware of timed responses. Some math games that are competitive or language building games may be fun and increase learning for some students and be a nightmare for others. Anything that is timed or the expectations of a fast response will increase pressure, stress, and stuttering. Children who stutter may exhibit behaviors that get them sent to the office, or may withdrawal from school on purpose to avoid these situations.
- Some children will deliberately say the wrong answer in class just to avoid stuttering. They know the answer is wrong but that is the word they feel they can say fluently. People who stutter who are not accepting of their stuttering order food they do not want, say words they do not mean, or even give themselves a false name all to avoid stuttering. If work that the child produces on paper doesn’t match what is being said verbally, it may be an avoidance technique.
- Research connects stuttering, turrets, and ADHD as similar disorders that connect in similar ways and areas in the brain. Some language tests and dyslexia have also been suggested that they overlap higher in people who stutter. An SLP who specializes in stuttering and who has kept up with the current research will be able to best update you on these studies. It’s something to keep in mind with your student and their literacy.
- There needs to be a zero tolerance for any kind of imitating, teasing, or bullying of kids who stutter. Kids will pick up on your own feelings about stuttering through your facial expressions, body language, your modeling of your own patience and comfort level with stuttering. If you are not comfortable with your student’s stuttering, your students will not be either.
- The desired classroom atmosphere should reflect that it’s OK to stutter and that it is more important for you to participate and say what you want to say.
For Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students: here is ASL storytelling of the story. Produced by BC School for the Deaf.