Speaking and listening
Staff should be aware of strategies to support your child.
What your pre-school staff need to know to help your child. These may be printed and passed on. Advice from the therapist should always be followed.
Inevitably there will be occasions at the setting when the curriculum requires the staff to lead speaking and listening sessions with the children, and this is when your child needs to be properly supported so that he has the confidence to say what he wants to say, whether he is stammering or not. He should feel that his comments are listened to by the staff and other children and contribute without any sense of anxiety.
Remember that the basis of self-esteem and confidence is laid down in the pre-school and staff should always be capable of understanding how the child feels about his stammer. Some small children are totally unaware of their speech patterns and, when that is the case, should just be gently supported as the BSA-Leaflets suggest. Others may have picked up that their speech is different to that of other children and may not be concerned about it and the same support should be given to them.
However, some children are very aware of their speech difficulty, even at a very young age, and in the pre-school staff should respond to that by allowing them to talk about it when they need to. If the child is stammering and struggling staff should respond with a sympathetic comment to acknowledge his efforts 'you really tried hard there, well done!' This can make him feel valued.
Supporting your pre-school child at home
Monitor your child's speech without appearing to him to be worried or anxious. It is helpful for you to note what situations seem to affect his speech at home and in the pre-school, so you can make adjustments to lower the demands on his speech at certain times. If he has a speech and language therapist then it is important to make a note of these and discuss them with her.
For example, if he seems very tired when he returns from pre-school it may be best to have a quiet time with him when he only talks when he feels like it, and gets away from the pressure he might be feeling from the interactions with other children and adults at the setting.
Always set aside time when you can be with your child without interruption and allow him to set the pace of the playing and the conversation. At such a time he is more likely to talk about his time at pre-school and anything which is worrying him. His anxieties may seem trivial to an adult but you should take them seriously and talk through with him ways to deal with them. If his worries really concern you then you should always bring them to the attention of pre-school staff so they can give support too.
If there is a younger child at home it is important that your pre-school child feels that his toys have not been played with or disturbed by the younger child, as a young pre-school child can easily believe that the younger child at home is taking over while he is out of the house. This belief can fuel jealousy and cause stress that could affect his speech.
The BSA has been told by some parents that the new curriculum has led staff in their pre-school setting to observe the children playing for assessments, and avoid talking directly with the children. These parents are concerned that the setting is not aware of their child's stammer and is not therefore giving effective support. These may be isolated concerns affecting a few parents of children who stammer, but you do need to bear this in mind and talk to pre-school staff if you are worried.
See Does your young child stammer? for more information.
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Text for this page: How to support your child's speaking and listening
Text for this whole section: What is taught in a pre-school setting