How can I promote confidence in communicating during class activities or presentations?

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It is common for children who stammer to experience some anxiety, frustration and embarrassment around talking. However, it is important to remember that anxiety does not directly cause a stammer. People who stammer are as likely to experience the same range of emotions as peers who do not stammer. Nevertheless, children may experience negative reactions when they stammer which can cause apprehension about public speaking and lead to low self-esteem and heightened anxiety.

In this article, we have provided some ideas for supporting pupils who stammer in the classroom. However, if you have concerns about a pupil's mental health and wellbeing, it is important to raise these with the school SENDCo/Inclusion Team and the child's family.

In the classroom, try to:

  • Avoid correcting a child’s stammer.
  • Comment on what is said, not how it is said.
  • Give the young person the time to finish their own sentences and show that you are interested in hearing all that they have to say. 
  • Introduce a 5-minute class time to share general successes and worries to increase self-awareness, confidence and problem solving. Talk about success: sharing ideas, making friends, sharing a joke and asking questions to take an interest in others.
  • Emphasise what makes a confident communicator rather than emphasising speaking smoothly. 

Depending on what is available in your school, it might be worth encouraging the student to get involved in wider social groups and activities that focus on positive well-being and self-confidence.

  • For example, some schools run group sessions where pupils can talk through evidence based emotional and social skill strategies e.g. the Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) programme. 
  • There might also be other confidence building programmes in schools, such as children becoming part of the school council or being a buddy for younger children, all of which can help students develop their self-esteem and confidence communicating in different contexts and with different groups of people. 


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