Stuttering is pretty common among youngsters 2 to 5 years of age. It generally disappears on its own by the time a child is 5 years old. If you’re concerned your munchkin’s not outgrowing the dysfluency, you can help her learn how to control the stuttering. Slowing speech and pausing between groups of words are two strategies used to help kids overcome or control stuttering. The slow, relaxed pace reduces stress and makes word formation simpler. Pausing reduces the frequency of stuttering by reducing the rate of speech. If you're concerned about her stuttering, talk about your concerns with a speech-language therapist.
1. Tell a Joke
Joke-telling gives stuttering kids an opportunity to practice pausing and makes working on their speech a fun activity rather than a boring lesson. If you’re working in the classroom with early readers, bring a few joke books to your next class. Have the group sit together in a circle on the carpet and pass the book around so everyone has an opportunity to tell a few jokes. You can start off the joke-telling to demonstrate the slow speech and frequent pausing used with each joke. Have a few of your students share a joke and then take another turn to reinforce the slower pace and pausing. If you’re working one-on-one with your own youngster, the activity works just as well. Take turns telling jokes.
2. Simon Says!
Play a game of Simon Says with your own child or a group of youngsters. When you’re playing in a group, give each child an opportunity to lead the game, but always be the one to start so you can demonstrate the speech pattern. For example, “Simon says,” then pause for a moment before, “touch your nose.” Remember, include a few instructions without “Simon says” and each child who responds is eliminated from the round until there is a winner. Then play the game all over again so everyone has the opportunity to lead the game.
3. Guess What?
Instead of guess who, play a game of guess what with early readers or writers. If you are working with children beginning to read, write out several clues for them on cue cards. For example, “I am orange. I am round. You peel me. I taste sweet.” Write the answer, “an orange” beneath the clues. You now have to modify the clues a little bit with commas to help with the slow, pausing speech. For example, “I, am orange. I, am round. You, peel, me. I, taste sweet.” Tell the children to pause each time they see a comma. Have each of your youngsters read out their clues and let the group try to guess the answers. For young writers, have the group come up with their own clues and answers to share.
4. Tell a Story
Even a pre-reader can use his imagination to tell you a story from an old book. Find some books with pictures the group has never read and have them take turns creating a story, based on the pictures in the book. Encourage slower speech and pausing throughout the entire story. You can work individually with the kids or have each one share his special story with the group to practice slow speaking and pausing in front of an audience.