Reading aloud with your child
The teacher and other key adults in school or at home are likely to hear pupils read aloud regularly, as they progress through the reading programme. Most schools encourage parents to read at home with their child for pleasure and to support the structured school reading programme. When you read with your child and he stammers, without perceived struggle or anxiety, you should listen attentively and comment supportively when he pauses. However, for a child whose reading needs to be heard, and is apparently struggling with his speech and showing anxiety, a paired reading strategy can be helpful for a parent to use.
Paired reading strategies to try
One method that has been reported as successfully encouraging the child who stammers is for the parent or other adult and the child to read aloud together in chorus. The rhythm of the adult's voice will give support to the child who stammers and he is most likely to keep up with that and enjoy the experience of talking fluently. When he feels ready to read aloud on his own, he should tap with a pencil and the adult stops reading, allowing the child to continue solo reading. As the child knows that he only has to tap again for the adult to join in with him, he may feel more confident and relaxed about talking; this could possibly improve his fluency in that reading task, although there is no certainty of that. Empowering the child in this way does seem to build confidence and make reading aloud sessions more enjoyable.
A further extension of the approach is for the adult to make the choice of who reads solo by tapping with the pencil so that the child has to be alert to the request to read, and cope with the kind of unexpected demand in a situation in which he should feel safe and supported. This experience may build confidence and allow the child to feel capable of responding without embarrassment when unexpectedly required to speak. You can use also story tapes for him to listen to so he hears experts reading aloud and encourage him to read along with them as he gets older He probably will not stammer when reading with the tape and this will build his confidence.
Try to monitor how much time your child spends in passive activities using the new technologies and make sure that he is not spending too much time on his own in his room with his computer or television. All older children nowadays are likely to have online friends on social networking sites and children who stammer who feel concerned about talking may find it particularly reassuring. However it does need to be monitored by parents as occasionally usage can get out of hand, be a substitute for real friends and at its worse lead to contact with inappropriate people. He is bound to watch this on his own sometimes as parents are busy people, but do make sure that the programmes are appropriate for his age and whenever you can sit down and watch the programme with him. Encourage him to make comments about the characters and the story and use the opportunity to build up his language by sharing ideas with him.
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Text for this page: Helping your child with reading and other media
Text for this whole section: How to help your child's learning