Final edits on my book "Voice Unearthed: Hope, Help, and a Wake-Up Call for the Parents of Children Who Stutter" are done and with the layout person. It should be available by the end of the month! So back to blogging. This blog topic has been inspired by a parent's question on the NSA Parents listserve...
To School or Not To School?
For the sake of transparency - I'll tell you up front that we have homeschooled all three of our boys and that decision had nothing to do with Eli's speech struggles. He was a wee babe when we started homeschooling his older brothers. They are now 19 and doing great. I am very grateful for having had that choice but I recognize that not every parent has that option, or would choose it even if they did. For those who include it in their list of possibilities - here is my perspective...
Dr. Jerry Halvorson states:
"Allow every stutterer to talk, talk, talk… no matter age, severity or situation. The more the better. The less inhibition the better. The more initiations the better. The more verbal reactions, the better, the more socialization the better, and infinitum. Release his speech. Allow him to speak as much as is physically, emotionally, and cognitively possible – and do so without forcing."
The more you can have your child in an environment that allows this level of freedom and inhibition, the greater likelihood that your child’s speech tension will melt away, or at least, not get worse. Unfortunately, this is pretty much in contrast to the classroom environment, where kids spend most of their childhood years. In the classroom:
- Acceptable talking is most often in response to questions designed to assess performance and comprehension, adding pressure and layers of anxiety around speaking.
- Children are expected to talk in front of large groups and the content of their speech is continually being assessed.
- Uninhibited, spontaneous talking is highly discouraged.
The best teachers in the world cannot get around these classroom management parameters – and our classrooms are only getting bigger.
Today there are many exciting alternatives available from home schooling to free online public schools to home school cooperatives. I would strongly recommend that parents with children experiencing any type of communication apprehension consider and research these options.
Does this mean your child will sit at home and never have to speak to anyone outside of the immediate family? Absolutely not. Options to the brick and mortar public schools are thriving and there are many families out there to connect with for social experiences and academic events. There are also community options (4H, Scouts, local theater, church, music, chess club, etc…) that can keep a family very busy and provide many safe and relaxed social experiences. These are wonderful choices for children who are stuttering because they will have more flexibility to pursue their interests, have less pressure and anxiety around speaking, and have far more freedom to talk, talk, talk.
My book talks more about how you can support your child in group settings, such as a classroom or club setting. I am happy to be a resource for anyone considering alternatives to the public school setting. Feel free to email me at voiceunearthed.gmail.com.
Doreen Lenz Holte