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Questions and Answers

When the child is not usually anxious about stammering, question and answer sessions should just encourage participation. 

The younger pupil is more likely to do this as he may be unaware of his stammering or more likely is aware but has not become anxious about it. The rest of the class should be following some whole-class ground rules in place for speaking and listening.  The teacher's normal scanning of the class should ensure that none of the children are reacting to the stammering in an unacceptable way.

In the video clip the teacher gives the class the chance to plan their answer with a partner and than asks for volunteers to give the answer. It is Matthew who stammers who puts up his hand and gives the first response: the fact that he has the confidence to do this is evidence that the support he receives is enabling him to join in as he wishes. However, the older child who stammers of his age is often very likely to have become more anxious about his speech and may need a differential strategy which could support the communication needs of the whole class. He may have worrying thoughts about his speaking and may be clearly anxious about it.

He should be given an opportunity to talk over worries with the teacher, and encouraged to think about ways in which he could approach oral tasks. In this instance the teacher can at first ask simple questions which do not increase demands on the child as the child is more likely to stammer when struggling to express complex ideas.

The parents and the speech and language therapist need to be involved in this ongoing negotiation with the child, so that a balance is maintained between encouraging participation in oral work and ensuring that the child's confidence is not undermined by pushing him too much.

Question and answer sessions are ideal for ensuring that the teacher is moving at a pace which is right on that occasion for the child who stammers, as there is so much flexibility provided by the nature of a question.  The range from simple closed questions to open reflective ones allows this flexibility.

Summary

  • Question and answer sessions should be related to the child's capabilities bearing in mind the variability of a stammer.
  • Fluency is not a goal for the teacher.  It is important to encourage the child to develop a confident attitude to talking.
  • Value the content of a reply.