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5 Tips on How to Keep Your Voice Healthy When Teaching Online

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Tips on how to keep your voice healthy and prevent vocal fatigue for teachers.

Transitioned to online teaching and noticed a change in your vocal quality?

You are not alone, and there is a connection.

It is the middle of 2020, and in an attempt to flatten the curve of the Covid-19 pandemic, schools and gyms have closed, and teachers and instructors have transitioned to teaching remotely. 

The tiredness or hoarseness you feel is not just you. Laryngeal fatigue is real. 

If you want to maintain good vocal health in this new era of online teaching, here are some easy tips on how to keep your voice healthy that you can start incorporating into your daily schedule.

 

1. Hydrate—before, during, and after classes

Having hydrated vocal folds is key for optimal voice production. There is lots of research that shows dehydrated vocal folds do not function as well as hydrated ones. 

If you are teaching back to back sessions, or have multiple online classes per day, fill up a water bottle. And not just the little 16 oz ones. Challenge yourself to sip slowly over the course of the morning or afternoon. Drink before, during (if possible), and after sessions. 

You can also try a nebulizer and 0.9 percent isotonic saline to hydrate the vocal cords, or a cool-mist humidifier to moisturize the mouth and throat. 

 

2. Use some resonant hums as a warm-up and cool down.

If you’re wondering how to keep your voice healthy, you might want to think about balancing your vocal subsystems (respiration, phonation, and resonance) with some resonant voice sounds before and after teaching. 

The goal of “Resonant Voice” according to Dr. Stemple, “is to achieve the strongest, ‘cleanest’ possible voice with the least effort and impact between the vocal folds to minimize the likelihood of injury and maximize the likelihood of vocal health” (Stemple et al., 2010). 

Resonant Voice was further studied by Kittie Verdolini Abbott in her LMRVT approach. She discusses how creating hums and vibratory /v/ and /z/ sounds in the front of your face can decrease the forceful impact on the vocal folds during phonation and help you speak better.

 

3. Blow bubbles in a cup—yup, exactly what you think it is.

The idea here is to alleviate some of the stress that may be placed on the vocal cords when speaking or teaching for extended periods. Dr. Ingo Titze discusses at length the magic of SOVT (semi occluded vocal tract) exercises. 

According to Dr. Titze, “SOVTs help stretch and un-press your vocal cords” and take a load off the glottic tension at the level of the vocal cords. So, what should you do? Blow bubbles into a cup. 

All you need is a straw, cup, and an ounce or two of water. Blow some air through the straw into the cup to create some bubbles. Then turn your voice on, add sound, all while keeping soft rounded lips around the straw. For variation, glide from a low note to a high note and then vice versa. 

Side note: You don’t actually need the water and cup. The bubbles are there just for a fun visual feedback. 

 

4. Use noise-canceling headphones or an amplification device.

Kristie Knickerbocker is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. One of her solutions on how to keep your voice healthy is using noise-canceling headphones. She says that “when we cannot hear clear feedback for our own vocal output, we put ourselves at risk.” 

In her blog, Knickerbocker talks about the Lombard Effect and why she recommends wearing noise-canceling headphones for your online classes or sessions.

If noise-canceling headphones are not an option for the class format or session you teach, try an amplification device such as Chattervox. Play around with volume control during classes and find what works for you and your voice.

 

5. Stretch your muscles to release tension.

Chances are that if you switched to remote learning and online teaching, you are sitting more. Perhaps less active and more stressed. 

This can have an overall effect on posture and create muscle tension in multiple areas surrounding the head, neck, and shoulders. This can affect the laryngeal area and cause vocal strain. 

(Click here to know more about how to tackle the “sitting disease.”) 

To prevent this, reduce sitting time, increase “non-exercise” physical activity during the day, and incorporate more movement to alleviate some of the stiffness. 

Another option is to do some manual therapy to release restricting tissues that might be causing the tension. Reach out if you want more information on manual therapy.

When it comes to how to keep your voice healthy, keep in mind: The more you prehab, the less you rehab. Take the right steps, make the right choices, and your vocal fold tissue should work efficiently and smoothly.

 


Our special thanks to Chaya for writing this post and providing us with her excellent tips. Chaya can be reached by contacting us at info@brooklynletters.com, where she provides voice therapy services.

* Huge thank you to all the teachers and instructors who have seamlessly transitioned to and embraced an entirely new world of online learning and coaching.

 

Top 3 Homeschooling Tips for Parents Who Want to Keep Their Child Engaged

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Keep these homeschooling tips for parents in mind to ease your transition into this new type of learning.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to change the way today’s students learn, more and more parents are now looking at homeschooling their children for the coming school year. Likewise, school districts are shifting to blended and distance learning in lieu of in-person classes. This new method will follow the school’s regular curriculum and recreate classroom settings online as best as possible.

These changes aim to ensure the pandemic that forced most of the world to retreat into the safety of our own homes does not derail education.

But while studying at home can ease concerns on safety, it can also be challenging. Even more so for parents who did not plan on becoming their children’s primary educators.

And like many challenges, the biggest hurdle seems to be knowing where and how to start. From finding the right curriculum to setting up a learning space, the process can be overwhelming for parents. Particularly those dipping their toes on homeschooling for the first time.

To help ease you into this transition, we have rounded up some of our top distance learning and homeschooling tips for parents.

 

1. Create a suitable learning space

You don’t need to recreate a classroom inside your home, but having a designated learning space is key. This helps your child to focus on and embrace the idea of studying at home better.

Having a space that fuels their creativity and learning materials within reach will encourage them to concentrate and participate more.

Similarly, it’s important to have a daily schedule to guide your child through the day. This will recreate the structure they had in schools and help them ease into this new type of learning. 

However, it’s also necessary to keep your child’s routine flexible and loosen up your expectations. Let your kids share control over their schedule, and include them in decision-making. Make sure to have room for playtime, breaks, and, if possible, outdoor activities.

 

2. Make learning more fun with activities

Bombarding your child with tons of schoolwork will do more harm than good. Whether your child is entirely homeschooled or part of your local school’s distance learning program, it’s important to keep things balanced with fun activities. This is especially true in making sure boredom doesn’t get in the way of your child’s online studies.

One of the most important homeschooling tips for parents is understanding and being aware of how your child learns best. That way, you can tailor activities in a manner that will be easier for them to grasp. (And you will know which things will easily distract them.) A multimodality approach takes advantage of learning by using visual, audio, kinesthetic, and motion to help students learn.

For young children, adding sensory play in their daily activities will boost curiosity, improve motor skills, cognitive function, and problem-solving skills. Include crafting activities and give them simple tasks to complete independently. Doing so will give your child a sense of accomplishment and boost their confidence.

If you have a teen, introduce practical applications of their lessons. It can be tricky to ward off boredom and distractions (such as video games and social media) when you have a teen, so shake up their routine from time to time.

One way to do this is by challenging your child. Introduce activities that stretch their imagination and encourage academic and personal growth. Whether it is through simple experiments or tasks that teach essential life skills. What matters is you allow them to have first-hand experience by showing them how concepts apply to real-life situations.

Homeschooling is a good opportunity for your child to dive into passion projects and pursue their interests.

 

3. Encourage your child to pursue a passion project

One of the best homeschooling tips for parents is to allow your child to pursue their interests. Especially the ones that may not fit in their regular school curriculum.

Passion projects can be particularly empowering for your child. They take the lead in deciding which project to do, how they want to present it, and which direction they want to go.

For tech-savvy teens, this can be learning how to code, build an app, or starting a blog or YouTube channel.

For younger kids, passion projects can be a great way to encourage their curiosity and sense of discovery. They can choose to learn an instrument, start a little vegetable garden, or create an illustrated guide on the life cycle of their favorite animal.

 

Homeschooling Support for Kids and Parents

Distance learning is set to become one of the primary teaching methods when students return in the fall. But like homeschooling, its main concern is how to keep students engaged. It is no wonder most guides and homeschooling tips for parents give focus on techniques and activities that will keep children interested in their studies.

As both teaching methods rely on independent studying, it can be challenging for parents to make sure their children stay focused. As such, it may result in students falling behind their peers when it comes to academics.

Luckily, this doesn’t mean distance learning or homeschooling cannot be successful. Research shows that independent or virtual learning tends to be more effective when a child has a guide or mentor on hand. 

Having a facilitator is key in redirecting focus, tracking progress, and supplementing gaps that may cause a child to fall behind. And one of the ways to ensure your child is getting the support they need is by providing them the help of a private tutor.

Themba Tutors and Brooklyn Letters are New York-based private tutoring companies. They are fully committed to providing fun, individualized, and dynamic tutoring, coaching, and therapy sessions for children and teens.

Composed of traveling learning specialists, academic tutors, and executive function coaches that work one-on-one with students of all ages, they provide multidisciplinary and personalized services.

Brooklyn Letters offers in-home and online literacy (Orton-Gillingham Approach) and math tutoring services as well as speech, language, and feeding therapies in the New York City metro area seven days a week.

Themba Tutors provides in-home services in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Long Island, Westchester County, Fairfield County, Connecticut, and sections of New Jersey.

 

For more information, contact:

Themba Tutors

(917) 382-8641 / (201) 831-9848

info@thembatutors.com

https://thembatutors.com/

 

Brooklyn Letters

(347) 394-3485

(917) 426-8880

Text: (201) 899-4399

info@brooklynletters.com

https://brooklynletters.com/

————

Want to know more homeschooling tips from the experts? Here are some videos we recommend!

Watch this video as Brooklyn Letters director and homeschooling mom Nicole interviews Brooklyn Letters reading specialist Joana on how to make online classes a success!

 

Looking for online resources and websites you can use for your child’s homeschool and online classes? Here are Brooklyn Letters speech language pathologist Amy’s recommendations!

 

How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Changing the Way Your Child Learns

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The effects of coronavirus on education extend beyond school closures.

Without a doubt, the coronavirus pandemic has reshaped the world as we know it. It has changed even our simplest habits, the way we interact, and our everyday routines. The health crisis has undeniably altered social, cultural, and economic norms. And among the world’s biggest concerns is the effects of coronavirus on education.

 

The Impact of School Closures 

 

Around the world, schools were among the first public institutions to close down to contain the spread of the virus. UNESCO data shows that a total of 180 countries have opted to shut down schools as of March 2020. In the United States, all 50 states and U.S. territories have chosen to close school doors. A decision made even without a nationwide order for a shutdown.

As a result, 87 percent of the world’s student population — about 1.5 billion youth and, consequently, their parents — are left wondering about the future.

The effects of coronavirus on education aren’t only on the disruption of learning. According to a report by UNESCO, school closures have only highlighted the existing problems in the education system. And it becomes even more evident as schools push for distance or home learning. The impact is notably more severe for marginalized families.

Distance learning may be the best way to ensure learning continuity, but it presents its own set of challenges. These include:

  • Loss of learning, growth, and development opportunities
  • Teachers and students struggling to transition to distance learning
  • Parents unable to guide their children in their homeschooling because of work or limited resources
  • A rise in dropout rates
  • Concentration difficulties particularly for younger children and children with special needs
  • Challenges for teachers and school authorities in implementing a new method of learning
  • Challenges in measuring learning, particularly in assessments and exams
  • Delays in admissions and standardized testing
  •  Poor nutrition for children and families who rely on school meals

 

How the Coronavirus Pandemic Can Change Education 

 

In just a short time, Covid-19 has altered the way we teach our students. While some of these changes may be temporary, they also give us a peek of what might be here to stay.

One of the things worth noting is how quickly the majority of schools have been able to put in place a new mode of learning. Despite all its harms, the coronavirus has also become a kind of motivation for academic institutions to push for innovation.

Students in Hong Kong use interactive apps to recreate classroom lessons and interactions. Meanwhile, Chinese students without proper Internet connectivity can still access learning materials through live television broadcasts. And in Peru, UNESCO has opted to conduct its science program aimed at young girls online. This came after the Peruvian government decided to close schools for the rest of 2020.

Governments, education authorities, international organizations, and the private sector have come up with various solutions to help students cope with the effects of coronavirus on education.

As today’s students are more adept at using technology, these new modes can easily complement traditional classes. But, there is a downside. Integrating online learning methods can also widen the digital divide.

Because online education relies heavily on the quality of digital access, this puts some learners at a disadvantage. The challenge, therefore, falls on governments and Internet service providers. For digital learning to take off, the quality of Internet access must increase while lowering costs.

 

Measures to Counter the Effects of Coronavirus on Education

 

Aside from added funding for the education sector, authorities have laid out new policies for the coming school year. While the current focus remains on online learning, preparations are being made for when students return in the fall. These include new regulations and learning options.

In the last few weeks, more and more countries have started easing lockdown measures. And with that, the gradual reopening of schools, particularly in Europe and Asia.

The Netherlands, for example, has reopened schools last May. High school students are required to observe social distancing but not nursery and elementary students. Younger students are also not obliged to wear face masks, but they must always practice hand-washing. They may also participate in outdoor play and activities as long as they are with the same group of people.

The less stringent measures on grade school students are perhaps because studies have shown that young children are less susceptible to the virus.

In Hong Kong, which resumed classes at the end of May, schools implement full health and safety measures. From wearing of masks and sanitizing hands to checking body temperatures upon arrival. The length of classes has also been shortened to half a day.

Locally, New York City schools chancellor Richard Carranza offered a glimpse of what the next school year could look like for students. These include observing the following health and safety measures:

  • Wearing of masks and personal protective gear
  • Trauma-informed approaches to teaching
  • Blended learning options, which combines in-person and remote learning
  • Phased-in start dates and split schedules
  • Limited movement within school buildings and premises
  • Providing support and focusing on the emotional and mental health of young learners

Parents play a huge role in helping children understand the changes caused by the crisis and in ensuring the continuity of their education.

What Parents Can Do to Help Their Children

Parents play a huge part in helping children make sense of the world’s current situation. This also means taking a bigger role in countering the effects of coronavirus on education. Especially now that learning is turning digital and home study is becoming the new normal.

As students transition from in-person classes to online lessons and home learning, parents must ensure:

  • They are available and are equipped to be their children’s primary educator
  • Their children have access to the Internet and other online resources
  • Their children have a suitable learning space
  • Mental and emotional support for their children
  • Their children stay motivated and focused
  • Their children do not suffer summer and Covid-19 learning loss

The last item is particularly important in preventing learning decline. Studies have shown that children can lose at least a month’s worth of academic gains during extended breaks from school. In some cases, the extent of loss can skyrocket to a full year.

The best way to prevent this is to supplement the focused learning provided by schools. And while the current health crisis may be limiting your options, supplemental learning can still be possible with the help of private tutors.

Themba Tutors and Brooklyn Letters are New York-based private tutoring companies that are fully committed to providing fun, individualized, and dynamic tutoring, coaching, and therapy sessions for children and teens.

Composed of traveling learning specialists, academic tutors, and executive function coaches that work one-on-one with students of all ages, they provide multidisciplinary and personalized services.

Brooklyn Letters offers in-home and online literacy (Orton-Gillingham Approach) and math tutoring services as well as speech, language, and feeding therapies in the New York City metro area seven days a week.

Themba Tutors provides in-home services in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Long Island, Westchester County, Fairfield County, Connecticut, and sections of New Jersey.

 

For more information, contact:

Themba Tutors

(917) 382-8641 / (201) 831-9848

info@thembatutors.com

https://thembatutors.com/

 

Brooklyn Letters

(347) 394-3485

(917) 426-8880

Text: (201) 899-4399

info@brooklynletters.com

https://brooklynletters.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding Summer Learning Loss and Covid-19 Learning Loss, and How You Can Help Your Child

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Over the summer, students lose up to a month's worth of academic learning, a phenomenon known as summer learning loss.

Holistic education goes beyond the four walls of a classroom. But it is also true that academic achievement and formation from learning institutions give students a significant advantage. It is one of the reasons parents invest a considerable chunk of their time and resources to provide their children with the best learning opportunities. Educators continue to explore new educational techniques and technologies to keep up with the changing needs of students and ensure dynamic learning. But over the years, studies have shown that despite the progress made by students during the school year, plenty of them are still susceptible to summer learning loss.

What is Summer Learning Loss?

During the summer or extended breaks from school, students lose up to one month’s worth of academic learning on average. This phenomenon is known as the summer slide or summer learning loss. A closer look at these studies shows that most of the decline is in subjects like mathematics and reading. Particularly, students at higher grade levels tend to suffer more significant losses. Meanwhile, gaps in reading are more evident among lower-income students.

In recent years, a more in-depth look at summer learning loss has produced mixed results. Particularly, when it comes to the extent of loss in grade levels, socioeconomic status, and geography. Still, the data is enough to worry parents and educators alike.

The 2015 NWEA RIT Scale Norms Study, in particular, reports a trend that causes much concern among educators. In this study, the researchers reported on the extent of learning loss between third and eighth-grade students. Results show a 20 percent loss of school-year gains in reading and 27 percent in math in the summer following third grade.

For seventh grade students, these numbers are even higher: 36 percent in reading and 50 percent in math. This shows a significant spike in summer learning loss as students grow older and go from elementary to middle school.

To prevent this decline, parents and educators rely on summer programs to aid and enable continuous learning for children. As such, there is a demand for high-quality learning programs. Especially ones that mix formal lessons with recreational, outdoor, and hands-on activities.

But most of these programs are no longer viable as the coronavirus pandemic forces the world to a pause. Even more troubling, as school closures cut the school year short, students, parents, and teachers now face a bigger challenge: Covid-19 learning loss.

Initial estimates of Covid-19 learning loss reveal that students may lose up to 70 percent of school-year gains in reading and 50 percent in math.

Understanding Covid-19 Learning Loss

Most of the existing data on summer learning loss also apply to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on education. But for some, factors unique to the crisis have made the impact more severe. According to an article by Le Thu Huong, program specialist at the Education Policy Section, UNESCO, and Teerada Na Jatturas, digital communications expert and UNESCO intern, Covid-19 learning loss can threaten students because of reduced and unequal levels of learning and a higher tendency to drop out.

By not being able to attend school, students have no choice but to continue their studies at home. In doing so, it creates a disparity in the type and level of learning a child can get. Studying at home is affected by access to a suitable learning space and other resources. Not to mention, the parents’ availability to support and teach their child. These also happen to be some of the major factors that bring about summer learning loss.

Delays and learning gaps can also occur as home-based learning relies heavily on digital access. Something that is not always available to plenty of students.

The extended absence, lack of classroom interaction, and learning disruption are particularly concerning for at-risk students. As these might eventually encourage them to drop out of school.

In April 2020, the NWEA released a study on the potential impact of school closures due to Covid-19. Initial estimates of Covid-19 learning loss reveal that students may lose up to 70 percent of school-year gains in reading by the time school resumes in the fall. For mathematics, research shows that students could go back to school with less than 50 percent of the usual learning gains. In some grade levels, students could lose almost a full year of typical subject knowledge.

Combating Summer Learning Loss and Covid-19 Learning Loss

Despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic on the well-being, safety, and academic goals of each student, concerned government agencies, organizations, and educators continue to work with parents and families in ensuring learning continuity.

With over 1.2 billion students directly affected by the pandemic, UNESCO has recently launched the Global Education Coalition. The initiative aims to provide and encourage inclusive learning opportunities by focusing on remote or distance learning programs.

Additionally, traditional solutions previously adapted to counter summer learning loss can also be applied to address the learning decline during the Covid-19 pandemic. These include creating programs with an evidence-based curriculum and blend academic learning with extra-curricular activities.

To help students without Internet access, the Center for Global Development (CGD) suggests supplementing online learning with the use of radio, television, and SMS. Schools must also provide a way for families to receive or pick up necessary learning materials.

The CGD also stresses the importance of family involvement and supplementing the focused learning provided by schools. This supplemental learning can come in the form of private tutoring to meet each child’s unique academic goals and the needs and learning styles of each family.

Personalized private tutoring helps mitigate the effects of summer learning loss and Covid-19 learning loss.

How You Can Support Your Child

Providing your child or teen with the best support to prepare them for the new school year starts with finding the right professionals with a custom approach to tutoring. Themba Tutors and Brooklyn Letters are New York-based private tutoring companies that are fully committed to providing fun, individualized, and dynamic tutoring, coaching, and therapy sessions for children and teens.

Themba Tutors provides in-home services in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Long Island, Westchester County, Fairfield County, Connecticut, and sections of New Jersey. They aim to foster educational success by providing accessible tutoring for all learners in their homes and schools.

Composed of traveling learning specialists, academic tutors, and executive function coaches that work one-on-one with students of all ages, they provide multidisciplinary and personalized services.

Brooklyn Letters offers in-home and online literacy (Orton-Gillingham Approach) and math tutoring services as well as speech, language, and feeding therapies in the New York City metro area seven days a week.

Brooklyn Letters believes in working closely with families and the importance of understanding their learning needs and styles in constructing the most effective support system for each child.

For more information, contact:

Themba Tutors

(917) 382-8641 / (201) 831-9848

info@thembatutors.com

https://thembatutors.com/

 

Brooklyn Letters

(347) 394-3485

(917) 426-8880

Text: (201) 899-4399

info@brooklynletters.com

Brooklyn Letters