Talking is putting thoughts into words: it clarifies thinking that later may be expressed in writing, and can also motivate and stimulate ideas.
The curriculum therefore places considerable emphasis on the skills of talking and listening in the classroom. Teachers are aware that many children including children who stammer may need support to develop these skills (see Talking for Scotland).
Monitor for underachievement
Children who stammer have the same range of abilities and personality traits as children who do not. It is easy to underestimate the ability of a child who stammers as he may not always be able to express his thoughts and ideas. Teachers should TRACK achievement in relationship to the potential of the child, using whatever cognitive tests are favoured in their school.
Remember that just because a child does not appear able to talk, it does not mean that he does not understand
When a child stammers teachers have observed:
Worrying about friendships, simple social demands such as buying sweets, paying bus fares, telephoning, and feeling generally worried about what is coming next.
Children who stammer do worry about this and parents are understandably concerned. All schools follow policies to prevent this and parents and children are encouraged to report any concerns as soon as possible. Every child needs to feel able to safely approach the teacher with a problem.
However, children who stammer may have problems talking to their teacher about such an emotional issue and could be helped by strategies which allow them to give information in writing, to be placed in a 'bully box' or similar. See Bullying in this resource.
The key to preventing bullying is effective personal and social education that emphasises the diversity of the human family, and activities in PSD/PSE or Circle Time, for instance, can be ideal.
In some schools, children who feel different in some way are encouraged to give a short talk to the class to create some empathy with their feelings. If a child who stammers has the confidence to do this with support, that can be helpful. It is advisable for the teacher to consult with the parent and therapist before considering an approach to the child.
By adulthood, 75% of communication is non-verbal and over time stammering may have interfered with the development of communication skills such as the appropriate use of eye contact and facial expression, listening and turn-taking. Consequently, it is very important that the child who stammers is encouraged in school to develop these skills and the therapist may involve the teacher with his social skills development.
There is some research evidence that adults who stammer believe that their speech has had a negative effect on their employment opportunities and job performance.
A survey of BSA members reinforces this view. However, with more support in schools for children who stammer it is hoped that this trend may be reversed and they can achieve their potential to the same degree as every other pupil.