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What Are Learning Pods? Here’s What You Need to Know.

Learning pods have risen in popularity among parents in light of the Covid-19 crisis.

With coronavirus cases still rising in the country and many places across the globe, schools and parents turn to alternative learning methods for the coming school year. Over the past months, parents have taken the role of educators following school closures. And as we head into the new school year, parents now have several learning options for their children. This includes traditional homeschooling, remote classrooms, blended learning, and recently, learning pods or pod learning.

However, this presents another problem. Most schools are not prepared to welcome students back in the fall under the varied current options. Meanwhile, parents continue to be overwhelmed as the new school year approaches, which is why many of them have turned to pod learning as one way to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on education.


What Are Learning Pods? 


Simply put, learning pods are small groups of families whose children gather in a shared space or online for supplementary learning. Homeschool families traditionally use pods so children can socialize and interact with other homeschooled students.

Learning pods are typically conducted in one of the participating family’s homes. Instruction often comes in the form of a private tutor or teacher. But sometimes, parents themselves take turns in teaching the children.

While learning pods are not entirely new, it has become one of the solutions adopted by parents who want to make sure the current health crisis does not hurt their children’s academic growth even further.


Why Parents Are Opting for Learning Pods 


With school closures forcing students to finish this past school year at home, many families were thrust into remote learning for the first time. And the consensus over this drastic change has not been favorable.

Last spring, many families voiced their struggle with online or remote learning. Apart from the challenge of having to overhaul work and daily schedules, parents often reported this transition to be stressful.

We have seen parents grapple with the challenge of keeping their children engaged in schoolwork while ensuring mental and emotional support. Initial studies have also shown us that even with efforts to beef up remote learning, students still face higher learning loss risks. And although some schools have drawn-up measures to facilitate blended and in-person classes in the fall, safety remains a concern.

But pulling children out of schools entirely also comes with its own set of concerns. For starters, some parents are not confident with their ability to provide adequate academic instruction to their children. And then, there is the issue of socialization, which is crucial in child growth and development. And for most parents, online-based education will not be able to provide enough interaction or replace hands-on instruction. Child care is also another major problem, especially for working parents whose schedules rely on their children’s time at school.

Now that families have to prepare for a full school year during an ongoing pandemic, it is, understandably, making parents worry. As such, the sudden popularity of learning pods comes as no surprise. If the numbers of students are low in each pod, this will be a great solution. And if safety is still a concern, online pods will become increasingly popular.


Learning pods conduct classes online or in-person. Parents share the responsibility of teaching the children, but most of the time, a private tutor or experienced teacher is hired to conduct the instruction.


The Rise of “Pandemic Pods”


With most schools opting to either go fully remote or implement a blended learning system in the fall, learning pods (or “pandemic pods,” in light of the worldwide health crisis) offer students a semblance of what school used to be, all while alleviating parents’ concerns over safety, child care, and academic progress.

Parents rallying for learning pods see it as the best option to limit their children’s exposure to possible health risks. It also allows kids to have the chance to foster friendships and build social skills. And most importantly, learn and have fun in an intimate, more controlled setting.

Learning pods offer an effective way to stem learning loss, guarantee safety, and even a break from parenting responsibilities. However, not all families are as privileged.

Some argue that learning pods widen the educational gap and cause students from lower-income families to fall further behind. And while these concerns are undoubtedly valid, it is also easy to see why pod parents find pod learning appealing.

In this article by Jessica Calarco, associate professor of Sociology at Indiana University-Bloomington, she mentions how learning pods address three critical problems when classes move online. These include:

Ensuring hands-on or in-person instruction and support, which is critical for some students
Giving working parents necessary childcare support during the day
Providing social interaction for children

Calarco presented several suggestions to help level the playing field for all students. But until school and government authorities can implement a more equitable learning method, learning pods will continue to be the most viable option for families who have the means and resources to organize one. Parents will have to rely on themselves.


Pandemic pods are becoming popular among parents who want to stem learning loss and guarantee their kids' safety during the current pandemic.


How Learning Pods Work


One of the advantages of learning pods is that there are no set rules on how it should operate. Everything is determined by the parents who organize it and the common goals they want to achieve. Some learning pods have students enrolled in the same school and attend online or video-based classes together. In other cases, parents take their children out of school and opt for full-time pod learning instead.

Learning pods may have in-person sessions while others limit their classes to online instruction. In some groups, parents hire a tutor or experienced teacher to teach and oversee students. This is arguably one of the best ways to conduct pod learning. Having a teaching professional ensures that your children receive proper guidance and adequate hands-on instruction.

Whether your learning pod aims to supplement school-based curriculum or provide full-time instruction, it is crucial to provide your children with the best support to ensure optimum academic growth.

Fortunately, Themba Tutors and Brooklyn Letters are prepared to offer you tutoring services for all your pod learning needs. We provide in-home and live online pods as well as one-on-one in-home and online tutoring sessions.

Themba Tutors is a New York-based private tutoring company that offers fun, individualized, and dynamic tutoring and coaching services for children and teens. We work one-on-one with students of all ages and provide multidisciplinary, personalized services. 

Composed of traveling learning specialists, academic tutors, and executive functioning coaches, Themba Tutors provides in-home and online services in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Long Island, Westchester County, Fairfield County, Connecticut, and sections of New Jersey. 

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

Our private-pay online and doorstep speech-language feeding therapy, reading services (Orton Gillingham, Wilson, etc.), and math tutoring for all ages and for all skills are individualized and adapted based on your child’s and peers’ needs.

We offer the following services:

  • Online Services
  • Orton Gillingham Approach
  • Writing and Speaking Intervention
  • Writing Intervention
  • Comprehension – Listening and Reading Intervention
  • Reading Comprehension Tutoring
  • Decoding and Encoding
  • Reading Fluency Services
  • Spelling Intervention
  • Vocabulary Intervention
  • Math Tutoring


Get in touch with us today at:

Themba Tutors

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


Brooklyn Letters

(347) 394-3485

(917) 426-8880

Text: (917) 426-8880

Brooklyn Letters

How to Teach Children the Alphabet? We Asked One of the Top Experts Dr. Jan Wasowicz

How to teach young children the alphabetLearning the alphabet or letter recognition is your child’s first step towards mastering reading and writing. But sometimes, teaching such an important skill can be a confusing process for parents. Do you start with the letter names or letter sounds first? Is there a particular way children should learn their ABCs? And how do you make sure you are laying down the right literacy foundation for your little one? Dr. Jan Wasowicz, a speech language pathologist, gives us her insight on how to teach young children the alphabet.


When teaching young children the letters of the alphabet, do we teach them first to say the letter names or the letter sounds?


Dr. Wasowicz: “It depends,” applies here.

“Students need to learn how to form letters and need to know letter names. If that is our objective in a lesson, we use letter names, and the student says the letter name as they form the letter.

Students also need to learn and make connections between sounds and letters -phoneme (sound)-grapheme (print) mapping- to read and spell words. If alphabetic principle, letter-sound relationships, encoding (spelling) and decoding of words, and development of robust lexical (vocabulary) representations of words and word parts is our objective in a lesson, we have the students say sounds as they write (or read) the letters.

With a student who already knows her letter names, can form all the letters but needs to improve letter formation/handwriting skills, and also needs to improve phonological awareness (when listening to words or sounds), phonics (print-sound relationship), and reading and spelling skills, having the student say the sounds as she writes the letters allows us to simultaneously address multiple learning objectives at once.

As Dr. Virgnia Berninger says, the teaching of reading and writing is a very, very complex process. She writes, “Literacy instruction drawing on integrated reading-writing is like fine cuisine, which is made from multiple ingredients.”

When working with students, I often feel like an orchestra conductor leading an assembly of musical instruments (some of those instruments are not so well-tuned!). The processes of reading and writing—and the literacy instruction itself—are a dynamic interplay of multiple linguistic, cognitive, and sensorimotor elements that need to be called upon at just the right moment, in synchrony and fully integrated with each other for a masterful performance.

What we teach at a given point in time and how we teach something depends on many factors. Not the least of which is our instructional learning objective.

Effective teaching of reading and writing requires us to know what the individual student brings to the table. It also requires us to understand the WHY we do what we do.

When we understand the who (the individual student) and understand the why, we know what to do when.”


Dr. Jan Wasowicz has 35+ years of experience as a language, literacy, and learning specialist working with students who have language-based reading, writing, and spelling disorders in a variety of educational settings, including public schools, Head Start programs, and private practice.

Dr. Wasowicz has taught numerous university-level courses and is frequently invited to speak about best practices in literacy assessment and instruction at professional conferences.

She is the inventor of the Earobics® software, author of SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing, and lead moderator of the SPELLTalk professional listserv — the FREE professional discussion group dedicated to improving literacy through discussion of research and evidence-based best practices.

Dr. Wasowicz is an ASHA-certified, IL-licensed, and FL-licensed speech-language pathologist, and she holds a professional educator license with multiple endorsements from the State Teacher Certification Board of Illinois. She is also the founder and CEO of Learning By Design, Inc.

What is Executive Functioning? Here’s What You Need to Know

Download our Free What is Executive Functioning Pamphlet here!

Does your child struggle with executive functioning skills?When you read discussions in parenting groups and forums online, you often see parents looking for tips on how to help their child or children be more focused and organized with their school work, or asking for advice on how to help their child and children better manage their emotions and prevent meltdowns. These are examples of executive functioning skills, a hot topic among parents and tutoring companies! 

Explicitly learning how to maximize one’s executive functioning processing is crucial for a child’s success in school and later in their home and adult life. Executive functioning is not taught in school and is also misunderstood in education. 


What is Executive Functioning? 


According to the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child, executive functioning refers to the skills and mental processes that allow individuals to plan and execute tasks, focus attention, and follow and remember instructions within the context of achieving a goal. In other words, executive functioning acts as our brain’s management system, and it plays a huge role in our behavior and in learning across the ages. 

Executive functioning involves three major types of brain functions or core skills. These are:

  • Working memory, or the ability to hold and process information over short periods. It can also include drawing from past learning experiences and applying them to current or future projects and situations. It allows an individual to hold information while actively processing information without losing track of a bigger task.
  • Mental or cognitive flexibility, which enables an individual to adapt to changing conditions, respond to different demands, and analyze situations in several ways. This plays a key role in solving problems, whether in school or daily life.
  • Inhibition or self-control allows an individual to set priorities and curb impulsive behavior.

In their book Smart But Scattered Kids, Dr. Peg Dawson and Dr. Richard Guare further expand these skills. Aside from the three main areas of executive functioning mentioned above, Dr. Dawson and Dr. Guare also include the following:

  • Emotional Control – the ability to manage emotions while finishing a task or goal; controlling and directing behavior
  • Sustained Attention – the ability to focus and complete tasks despite fatigue or boredom
  • Response Inhibition – thinking before acting; ability to assess and evaluate a situation before responding to it
  • Task Initiation – starting projects without procrastination
  • Planning and Prioritization – making decisions and mapping out plans towards achieving a goal or completing a task while identifying irrelevant information
  • Organization – creating and maintaining a system that helps keep track of information, materials, personal possessions
  • Time Management – the ability to estimate and allocate the time needed to complete a task or meet deadlines
  • Goal-Directed Persistence – ability to not lose sight of a goal and seeing it to the end without getting swayed by distractions or competing interests
  • Flexibility – adapting to obstacles, new information, or changing situations
  • Metacognition – ability to step back to assess and observe oneself in situations; involves self-monitoring and self-evaluative skills 

While children are not born with these skills, they start to develop them from infancy and strengthen them over time. Like other learned skills, such as language, executive functioning skills can also be improved in children who struggle with it.


A child with executive dysfunction will struggle with planning, organizing, and starting and completing goals.


What are the Signs of Executive Dysfunction?


In an interview with Dr. Lisa Jacobson, head of the Executive Function Clinic at Kennedy Krieger Institute, she defines executive dysfunction as “difficulty in getting the job done” and regulating behavior. Individuals with executive dysfunction will often have trouble with planning, organization, time management, and solving problems.

Without well-developed executive functioning skills, a child struggles with organization and managing behavior. This can, later on, affect his or her ability to set and accomplish long-term goals.

So what are the signs to look for if you suspect your child is struggling with executive functioning? Here are some of them, as listed in the Executive Function 101 ebook by The National Center for Learning Disabilities (click the link to download the book):

  • Easily distracted and requires plenty of reminders or prompts to stay on task
  • Struggles with setting goals
  • Has trouble identifying a starting point in tasks and often procrastinates
  • Struggles to understand the amount of time required to complete a task or project
  • Has difficulty focusing on both details and the big picture
  • Takes longer than peers to finish tasks or homework
  • Has problem checking and assessing their own work
  • Has trouble following multi-step directions

Additionally, it is important to note that executive dysfunction is not a diagnosis, nor is it a learning disability. However, it is one of the hallmarks of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Specifically, most of the symptoms of executive dysfunction are similar to the inattentive subtype of ADHD. And like ADHD, issues with executive functioning are part of the brain’s physiology and cannot be “fixed.” They can, however, be improved and managed.


What Causes Executive Dysfunction?


The jury is still out as to what exactly causes executive dysfunction, but some studies suggest it may be hereditary. A child who has trouble with executive functioning skills is likely to have a parent with the same problem.

study also revealed that executive dysfunction could be the result of diseases, disorders, and injuries that affect and damage the prefrontal cortex. 

Differences in brain development is also another factor, as found by researchers who have studied the causes of executive dysfunction and ADHD. Results show that the brain’s areas responsible for working memory and emotional control develop more slowly in people who have trouble with executive functioning skills.


Studies show that executive functioning skills and speech language development are closely linked.

What is the Link Between Executive Functioning and Language? 


Executive functioning plays an essential role in language development and reading. Working memory and flexibility, for example, are crucial to improving a child’s reading comprehension skills.

This article further explains how various executive functioning skills affect other aspects of literacy, which include:

  • Letter recognition
  • Decoding or sounding out words 
  • Words with multiple meanings (vocabulary)
  • Passive voice (understanding more complex grammar)
  • Focus while engaged in literacy

The same connection is true when it comes to the early years of speech and language development. For starters, this study found that a caregiving environment is a must for executive functioning skills and early language development. The following findings further support this connection:

  • Joint attention skills (sharing attention with others by showing, pointing, and coordinated looking between object and people) are crucial for language development (Kasari et al., 2006)
  • Preschool children use metacognitive strategies (involving working memory, planning), cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control for storytelling and expressive language (Trainor, 2010). Children at this age also rely on “self-talk” for problem-solving tasks.
  • Executive functioning skills are crucial when it comes to tasks that involve verbal reasoning, making inferences, and discourse.
  • Metalinguistic awareness or the ability to reflect on language requires executive functioning skills and facilitates language development in children (Morgan, 2015).


Steps you can take to boost your child's executive functioning skills

How to Boost Executive Functioning Skills


Struggling with executive functioning can have a significant impact on a child during his early years and later in life. Here are some steps you can take to help improve your child’s executive functioning:

  • Explicitly teach the skill and motivate your child with positive statements. Teaching children to push themselves with positive self-talk will help them get through the steps to achieve their goals.
  • Respect the child’s developmental status. Be mindful of expectations and look for ways to help them learn continually.
  • Set up routines and systems to boost organizational skills. 
  • Use pictures, charts, sticky notes, and other visual or tactile cues to help manage schedules and tasks.
  • Start a daily report card or rewards system to keep track of goals and encourage accomplishing tasks.
  • Use clocks, counters, or timers to address “time blindness” and help them understand the concept of time (how much time has passed, is left, and how quickly it is passing).
  • Seek the help of an executive functioning coach or tutor to help your child improve organization, time management, and studying skills.

Providing your child with the best support to improve executive functioning skills starts with finding the right professionals with a custom approach to coaching and tutoring. Themba Tutors is a New York-based private tutoring company that offers fun, individualized, and dynamic tutoring and coaching for children and teens.

Themba Tutors provides in-home and online 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. 

Themba Tutors is composed of traveling learning specialists, academic tutors, and executive functioning coaches. They work one-on-one with students of all ages and provide multidisciplinary, personalized services. Executive functioning is an area of our expertise. 


Get in touch with us today at:


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


Brooklyn Letters
(347) 394-3485
(917) 426-8880
Text: (917) 426-8880



Here is a short video to recap everything you need to know about executive functioning skills!


How to Get a Dyslexia Diagnosis for Your Child

Download our Free How to Get a Dyslexia Diagnosis for Your Child pamphlet here.

Read on to know more about how to get a dyslexia diagnosis for your child.Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities in children and adults. It affects 20 percent of the population and accounts for 80 to 90 percent of those with learning disabilities. As with all learning disabilities, early detection and intervention are crucial. Particularly in stemming further learning difficulties in later life. If you’re worried that your child may have dyslexia, below is a guide on what signs to look out for and how to get a dyslexia diagnosis.


What is Dyslexia?


The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as a specific and unexpected learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. Individuals with dyslexia primarily have difficulty in phonological processing. Phonology is an underlying skill that facilitates both learning how to decode and spell. Students with dyslexia struggle with isolating the sounds in words, matching sounds with letters, and blending sounds into words. 

In other words, these students have problems “cracking the code.” This means arbitrary written symbols (called orthography) are not automatically processed as well as their peers who have cracked the code with more automaticity do. As a result, an individual with dyslexia will find it difficult to sound out words and show poor spelling and decoding abilities. 

When left unaddressed, dyslexia can also lead to problems in reading fluency. If you aren’t reading fluently, you will be at risk for having reading comprehension difficulties and will most likely avoid reading since it’s an unpleasant experience. Lack of practice reading means less exposure to vocabulary and reduced learning background knowledge. In short, without proper intervention, dyslexia leads to a foundational literacy issue, which then causes downstream issues. 

For the most part, however, what exactly causes dyslexia is still unknown. We do know there is a genetic link; studies show that children with a family history of dyslexia or other learning disabilities are more susceptible. There are also other risk factors to consider, such as low birth weight, premature birth, and exposure to harmful substances (drugs, nicotine, alcohol) during pregnancy. 


Common Signs of Dyslexia


Dyslexia can occur at all levels of intelligence. Children who struggle with dyslexia can often excel in other areas of learning and creative thinking. This is arguably one of the reasons why early signs of dyslexia are easy to overlook, especially in bright students. These students can easily compensate for this sometimes “invisible” learning disability, which makes knowing when and how to get a dyslexia diagnosis all the more necessary. 

Typically, dyslexia is detected once a child enters school and starts learning to read. But younger children may also show symptoms that hint at a learning problem. Here are some early signs of dyslexia in children and teens to watch out for from The Mayo Clinic:

Early/Pre-School Years

  • Late talking
  • Slow to learn new words
  • Often reverses and confuses word sounds, especially those that sound alike
  • Difficulty naming letters, numbers, colors, and even recognizing letters in their own name
  • Struggles to learn nursery rhymes, understand rhyming patterns, or play rhyming games

Elementary Years

  • Reads below the expected level for their age (slow or inaccurate reading)
  • Struggles with understanding and processing what they hear
  • Struggles to find the right words or form answers and often opts to substitute words 
  • Difficulty in remembering the sequence of events or things
  • Difficulty in distinguishing similarities and differences in letters and words
  • Unable to sound out the pronunciation of new words and struggles with spelling
  • Takes a long time to complete reading or writing exercises and shies away from reading tasks

Teens and Adults

  • Problems with reading, often leaving out short words or parts of longer words
  • Struggles with spelling and writing
  • Difficulty pronouncing expected or familiar words or names
  • Takes a long time to complete tasks that involve reading and writing or avoids reading activities
  • Struggles with “getting” jokes, puns, or expressions with meanings that are not readily obvious
  • Difficulty grasping a second language and telling or summarizing a story
  • Struggles with memorizing or doing math problems

Dyslexia becomes easier to recognize as a child enters school and starts learning how to read.


When and How to Get a Dyslexia Diagnosis


Dyslexia becomes easier to spot once a child enters kindergarten or first grade. This is because children with dyslexia often struggle with understanding basic reading skills, so they will noticeably fall behind their peers. 

Your child’s primary teacher will hopefully notify you if he or she is falling behind reading benchmarks. They may suggest an assessment and offer assistance on how to get a dyslexia diagnosis for your child. However, school districts and schools use their own metrics to determine what’s expected in terms of learning literacy. What parents don’t know is that many of these popular metrics are not researched-backed (This is another topic to be discussed at a later point).  

A licensed clinical psychologist (ideally, a neuropsychologist) performs the testing for dyslexia on a child. Likewise, a licensed clinical psychologist can also work with a licensed speech language therapist, who can also collect necessary and relevant data (see below).  Meanwhile, an occupational therapist can evaluate fine motor and visual spatial skills.

According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia evaluation should consider the following factors:

  • Background information from parents and teachers
  • Oral language skills
  • Word recognition
  • Decoding
  • Spelling
  • Phonological processing
  • Fluency skills
  • Reading comprehension
  • Vocabulary
  • Graphomotor skills

Moreover, a child or adult should undergo a neuropsychological evaluation to get a closer look at brain functions. This type of test can measure attention span, memory, and language skills. It can help determine the reasons a child is struggling in school and help you plan an intervention. And like any type of learning issue, clinical psychologists can also rule in or out co-morbity since many learning issues are not “pure” in nature. 


Why Diagnosing Dyslexia is Important 


When left unchecked, dyslexia and other learning disabilities can persist well into adulthood. Without any support, children with dyslexia can experience frustration and learning blocks that may ultimately hamper their learning growth and development.

In many cases, not knowing how to get a dyslexia diagnosis and ignoring the signs of learning disabilities can lead to moodiness and chronic stress, expose children as targets for bullying, and take a toll on the child’s self-esteem. These outcomes may worsen as a child gets older and cause further mental, academic, and career-related problems.

Having a formal evaluation and diagnosis also allows your child to qualify for their school’s special services and Individualized Education Program or IEP. In the United States, all students are eligible for IEPs.  Entering your child into a specialized program gives you access to accommodations and modifications in your child’s academic path and goals.

Modifications make changes to what your child is taught in school and adjust expectations in what he is supposed to achieve. An example of this would be giving a different set of homework or grading using a different standard. Modifications are made on the child’s IEP. 

Meanwhile, accommodations are steps taken by the school to allow children with dyslexia to keep pace with their peers. This may include:

  • Access to taped lectures and audio versions of learning materials
  • Use of text-to-speech software to help with writing
  • Extra time on tests and writing and reading exercises
  • No foreign language requirement
  • Access to vocabulary lists and new concepts ahead of time
  • Alternative books with similar content in the student’s reading level
  • Read-aloud exemptions\
  • Grading students on mastery of content instead of spelling or reading fluency

How to Best Teach a Child with Dyslexia


Finding out how to get a dyslexia diagnosis is only the first step in providing support for your child. Hence, your next goal should focus on finding out the best and most effective way for your child to learn.

But before anything else, it is important to understand that dyslexia is neither a disease nor a physical condition. It is a lifelong learning disability, which a timely diagnosis and the right intervention and teaching approach can successfully manage and correct. 

Because dyslexia affects not only a child’s ability to read but also write and spell, it requires a multisensory structured language education (MSLE) approach. 

One of the pioneers of this type of teaching method is the Orton-Gillingham approach. Its goal is to create a multisensory learning environment for individuals struggling with reading, writing, spelling, or a combination of all three. The Orton-Gillingham Approach uses sight, hearing, touch, and awareness of motion to assist the child in improving reading and other literacy skills.

Reading together often and consistently is crucial in bolstering a child with dyslexia's confidence and reading skills.


How to Support a Child with Dyslexia at Home


While schools play a big role in a child’s success over dyslexia, at-home learning and support are just as important. Some of the most important steps you can take as a parent are:

Staying on top of your child’s IEP. Knowing how to get a dyslexia diagnosis and making sure your child receives a school’s IEP is crucial. But your job doesn’t stop there. It is just as important to keep communication lines open with your child’s educators. This is key to ensure the student is making progress and to figure out how you may be able to provide more help.

Reading with your child as often and as consistently as possible. It may be a challenge to get children to hunker down and finish a book, so pick fun reading materials like comic books, graphic novels, or choose-your-own-adventure books that make reading less of a chore. Emphasize on teaching phonics, and allow your child to practice reading without the pressure of being criticized or graded.

Taking advantage of technology. These days, there is an app or software for everything. Including dyslexia learning needs. Think text-to-speech, reading assistant apps, and spell-checkers.

Seeking the help of professionals. Finding a professional with Orton-Gillingham training (at least 40 hours worth), or even a speech-language pathologist with training in literacy, is the best way to provide further support for your child. For your child to succeed, it’s crucial to work with a professional that has a keen understanding of his or her needs and delivers a custom teaching approach. 

Brooklyn Letters is a New York-based private speech-language therapy and tutoring company fully committed to providing fun, individualized, and dynamic tutoring, coaching, and therapy sessions for children and teens. We treat all kinds of speech and language delays and learning difficulties, specializing in evaluating and treating babies through adolescents.

Our services include:

  • Online Services
  • Orton Gillingham Approach
  • Writing and Speaking Intervention
  • Writing Intervention
  • Comprehension – Listening and Reading Intervention
  • Reading Comprehension Tutoring
  • Decoding and Encoding
  • Reading Fluency Services
  • Spelling Intervention
  • Vocabulary Intervention
  • Math Tutoring

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

Get in touch with Brooklyn Letters at:

(347) 394-3485

(917) 426-8880

Text: (917) 426-8880

Brooklyn Letters


Do you want to learn more about dyslexia? 

Here is a roundtable NYC discussion on dyslexia presented by a neuropsychologist, an educational attorney, a special needs advocate, and a head of a school specializing in teaching dyslexia. 


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

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, 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.