I run a children's etiquette school in NYC. Here's how I'm helping my high-profile clients' kids learn manners and people skills amid a pandemic.
Faye de Muyshondt is an author and the founder of Socialsklz, a Manhattan-based social etiquette school for kids. She works with students from ages four to 18 and teaches them skills like how to introduce themselves properly, how to initiate small talk, and how to use dining utensils correctly. The pandemic has caused a temporary end to de Muyshondt's in-person lessons, so she and her staff are instead conducting workshops virtually. Here's how de Muyshondt's has shifted her job and business during the pandemic, as told to freelance writer Jenny Powers. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Before becoming a social etiquette instructor, I worked at an international public relations agency for 14 years building brands, securing media coverage, and conducting media training. My specialty was prepping high-profile clients for appearances on programs like "60 Minutes" and "The Today Show." We'd work on eye contact, body language, active listening, and how to handle difficult conversations. Afterwards clients would always say, "Gosh, I wish I did this sooner." Then while teaching public relations and marketing as an adjunct professor at NYU and Fordham Graduate School of Business, I first realized there was no formal social or communications skills training in elementary, high school, or even college. I was inspired to start building these lessons into my curriculum, and the feedback I received from students was great. I volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America as a Big Sister, and approached them about teaching the same type of lessons to kids. They had a program pairing high schoolers with corporate mentors, and asked me to work with the students on their workplace interactions. Several of the corporations working with BBBS were thrilled with the results, and invited me to work with their own interns. Next, I approached YMCA and Girl Scouts and began working with thousands of children throughout the public school system, many from at-risk areas. In 2009, I launched Socialsklz for kids ages four through 18 to help equip them with the vital tools needed to succeed on the playground, the classroom, and ultimately, the workplace. Our signature courses EssentialKidz and EssentialTweenz last four hours each, and have a maximum of 10 children per class. We also offer private instruction, but I don't allow parents to sit in on trainings, because we've found they are less impactful. We teach four-year-olds to maintain eye contact by having them peer through a long tube with a person on the other end of it. Students learn about greetings, introductions, and small talk by acting out real-life scenarios such as arriving at a friend's birthday party. In PresentationSklz, kids interview one another and give a presentation on the other person. In DiningSklz, we eat together and learn how to use utensils and napkins properly for any situation, whether you're in the cafeteria or at a fancy restaurant. Traditionally, the bulk of our interactive workshops and one-on-one instruction are in person.
We had an 800-square-foot ground floor space on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for the past eight years where my staff and I taught workshops. There was a conference room, classroom, and kitchen. We all wear a uniform of a striped blazer during the warm months and a navy jacket with red trim during the colder seasons, paired with jeans. But in early April when the pandemic hit, I contacted our landlord and said that we needed to get out of our lease. He let me out of it, thankfully, because who knew how long we would have to remain closed. I'm just beginning to truly mourn the loss of our space and grapple with the fact that we had to shut down so suddenly. COVID-19 has forced us to reinvent what we do and how we do it, and really ramp up our virtual instruction offerings, because now, they're suddenly our lifeline. I've had to scale back my business by letting some full-time instructors go, and transitioning some others to part-time.
It hasn't been easy. All of our instructors have education degrees and went through rigorous training, which included shadowing me for 10 two-hour workshops before running their own, and working in our space for six months before they were permitted to lead outside workshops. The silver lining of the pandemic is that I've been able to spend more time with my family.
Before the virus, I worked after school and on weekends. Now I'm able to spend that extra time with my own children and my husband at our home in Westchester. My kids and I started a YouTube channel where we weave Socialsklz lessons into videos. Socialsklz also recently launched a certification instructor program where people pay an annual fee to become certified in our programming, allowing them to take on their own clients from anywhere in the world area. SO far, we've certified a dozen or so people all over the world, from Boston to Mexico to Singapore. Private school interviews are right around the corner this fall, so we're working virtually with young clients to prepare.
A big part of our business had been going into high-profile people's homes and helping prepare their children for school interviews. The more children are going to be faced with digital scenarios like Zoom meetings, the more practice and resources they'll need. One day I'd like to go back and get another space for my business, because I love having in-person interactions with our students. That's been our bread and butter, but for now we'll continue with our digital programming for the foreseeable future. And as for our training, we've made one big update: No more handshakes. We are also teaching kids to give slight bows in lieu of elbow bumps to maintain social distancing. Faye de Muyshondt is the founder of Socialsklz, a Manhattan-based social etiquette school for kids. She's also the author of Socialsklz for Success: How to Give Children the Skills They Need to Thrive in the Modern World. Jenny Powers is a New York-based freelance writer who covers a variety of topics including business, pop culture, sex, parenting, and religion. SEE ALSO: I'm a Google intern and TikTok influencer who's living with my parents in Texas for the summer — here's what my days are like READ MORE: A day in the life of a COVID-19 tester in South Carolina, where new cases surged to a record-breaking daily high this week Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What it's like inside North Korea's controversial restaurant chain
More like this (3)
Summary List Placement Looking to make a little extra cash without having to leave the job...Summary List Placement Looking to make a little extra cash without having to leave the job you already have? You may want to consider picking up a side gig. Some side jobs allow you to take what you love — a passion, a hobby, etc. — and turn a profit. If you've ever wanted to start your own food photography blog, teach a yoga class, or hone your HTML coding skills, side jobs in these professions can allow you to boost your income while pursuing those interests. FlexJobs, a job board focused on remote, part-time, and flexible positions, put together a list of the highest-paying side jobs. Business Insider then turned to Payscale and Glassdoor to find the average hourly pay for each position. Most of the jobs on the list do not require any formal or specific education or degrees. Here's FlexJobs' list of high-paying side jobs you may want to consider, listed from the lowest hourly pay rate to the highest:SEE ALSO: How to make money from home, without going to an office every day 21. Food photographer Rate: $16/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Freelance, part-time Education/requirements: Bachelor's degree may be required if working for a studio, 3+ years experience, photography skills/online portfolio Job duties: Many restaurants rely on their website and promotional materials to reflect their food. Oftentimes, this involves beautiful food photography. If you have a knack for taking stunning photos, a side job as a food photographer may be a perfect way to make extra cash. Food photographers meet with new chefs, photograph them and their food for restaurant promotional materials, and help food professionals to market themselves in the best light. 20. Social media content manager Rate: $16/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, remote Education/requirements: Previous experience, bachelor's degree Job duties: Social media content managers play a vital role in a company or business' success. Social media managers manage and maintain individual or company social media accounts, perform outreach to followers, and create and curate all published content to suit their client's needs. With plenty of part-time and remote opportunities, it's never been easier to work in social media management from the comforts of home. 19. Amazon delivery driver Rate: $16/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, set your own hours Education/requirements: No formal education required. Must be at least 21 years old, have a US social security number, pass a background check, have access to a qualifying vehicle, have a valid driver's license, must show proof of auto insurance, and must have a smartphone Job duties: As part of Amazon's Flex driving program, pick up packages from various delivery stations, stores, and restaurants and deliver them to customers using directions from the Amazon Flex app — it's like Uber but for Amazon packages. 18. Bookkeeper Rate: $17/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, freelance opportunities Education/requirements: Relevant experience, high school diploma/GED required for some, knowledge of QuickBooks and Microsoft Office Job duties: Bookkeepers are responsible for conducting payroll, handling accounts, supervising payable/receivable tasks, and performing account reconciliations. Acting as an in-house accountant of sorts, bookkeepers also generate general reporting on the business or company's financial records. This side job is an ideal fit for detail-oriented, organized people looking to make a little extra money. 17. Massage therapist Rate: $20/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time Education/requirements: Certification required Job duties: Certified massage therapists assess clients' range of motion and muscle strength/weakness and provide treatment of medical conditions and injuries through massage. Massage therapists also promote client well-being and help them to relieve pain and built-up tension. 16. Web developer Rate: $21/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, freelance, remote Education/requirements: Bachelor's degree in an appropriate field of study; equivalent work experience; master's degree for some upper-level positions; HTML, PHP, and Java. C#, C/C++, and ASP.NET skills Job duties: For coding experts or those just getting into it, becoming a web developer may be the perfect way to stretch your skills while making some serious money. Web developers are responsible for designing, coding, and modifying websites according to client needs and creating visually appealing and functional sites. The websites they create should feature user-friendly design and clear navigation so visitors can enjoy a seamless browsing experience. 15. Social media influencer Rate: $24/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Remote, ability to set your own hours Education/requirements: No formal education required Job duties: In the age of smartphones and social media, it seems as though everyone is trying to become an influencer. There's a definitive reason this career has taken off in recent years — it has the propensity to make big bucks. Social media influencers post photos and text posts to their social media accounts, work with brands on sponsored posts and other promotions, and work to increase their following in order to further their reach. The best part about this lucrative side job: All you need is a cell phone. 14. Mental health therapist Rate: $24/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, freelance, remote opportunities Education/requirements: Bachelor's degree, master's degree Job duties: Mental health therapists perform extremely important work, and now it's even easier to be one in addition to your regular job. Mental health therapists work with individuals, couples, groups, and communities to improve mental health and find ways to manage issues such as substance abuse, aging, bullying, anger management, careers, depression, relationships, LGBTQ+ issues, self-image, stress, everyday emotions, and more. 13. Project manager Rate: $25/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, remote Education/requirements: May require a bachelor's degree in management or a similar field Job duties: Project managers are responsible for managing key client projects, ensuring that company projects are on-budget and completed on time, and setting project deadlines. Project managers may also delegate tasks, manage employees, and monitor and assess the success of projects like a new building. Interpersonal communication and organizational skills are a must-have, as project managers are tasked with liaising between their staff and the client. 12. Technical writer Rate: $25/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, freelance, temporary positions available Education/requirements: Some require a bachelor's degree, others 3+ years experience Job duties: Technical writers combine knowledge of the tech space with superb writing skills. Technical writers are responsible for conducting research, generating and developing ideas, and writing content for companies or websites. Those looking to pick up a gig as a tech writer should also feel comfortable pitching ideas and writing engaging copy on a variety of field-related topics. 11. Yoga instructor Rate: $25/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, remote Education/requirements: GED or high school diploma, previous teaching experience, yoga teaching certification Job duties: Perhaps the most relaxing side job on the list, yoga teaching can be a perfect way to transform your passion into a side hustle. Not only do yoga teachers lead yoga classes, but they may also be tasked with lightly maintaining the fitness facility. Whether you're all about a downward dog or love a good child's pose, you can make money doing both. Plus, there are options to teach both socially distanced and remotely. Namaste. 10. Tasker for TaskRabbit Rate: $25-$100 per task Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, ability to set your own hours Education/requirements: No formal education required. Must be at least 18 years old, have a US social security number, pass a background check, be able to work in one of TaskRabbit's active metro areas in the US, have a smartphone, and have both a checking account and a valid credit card Job duties: No matter what your special talent or skill set may be, someone on TaskRabbit is in need of your help. By becoming a Tasker, you can perform various odd jobs and tasks for people in your area depending on your skillset (moving homes, cleaning, fixing appliances, installing lighting, hanging picture frames, etc.) Taskers make between $25 and $100 per task and signup is available online. 9. Professional organizer Rate: $26/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time Education/requirements: High school diploma or equivalent, work experience Job duties: Are you a self-described neat freak? Did you watch "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" at least a thousand times on Netflix? Professional organizing may be the perfect side job for you. Professional organizers can either be employed by a company or work independently. Professional organizers clean workspaces or homes. They also work with clients to implement efficient and user-friendly organizational systems in order to make their lives easier and a little more satisfying. 8. Music teacher Rate: $26/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, temporary, set your own hours Education/requirements: Instrument training, teaching experience, master's degree to teach at the college level Job duties: For those more musically inclined, teaching children or adults how to play your favorite instrument can be a great way to make extra money. Music teachers are tasked with planning and preparing lessons, instructing students, offering feedback, liaising with academic staff and parents, and arranging recitals — either remote or in-person — for students. This rewarding side job also allows you to set your own hours, making it the perfect gig for someone looking to supplement their regular income. 7. Software developer Rate: $28/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Remote, freelance opportunities, part-time Education/requirements: Bachelor's degree or relevant experience; knowledge of HTML, PHP, and Java. C#, C/C++, and ASP.NET Job duties: Software developers will be charged with handling the design, installation, testing, and maintenance of different software systems. Those interested in software development should have a strong background in HTML, PHP, Java, and other software systems. 6. Podcast producer Rate: $30/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, remote Education/requirements: Previous experience, may require a bachelor's degree in a related field Job duties: Podcast producers are extremely important to the success of a podcast. They record, edit, and produce podcast audio, work as part of a team to direct and drive the vision for podcasts, prepare hosts and talent with necessary information prior to recording, and upload final files for distribution. These positions are often remote, which allows the producer to form their schedule around what works for them. 5. Application developer Rate: $3o/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, remote work, freelance opportunities Education/requirements: Bachelor's degree in an appropriate field of study; equivalent work experience; master's degree for some upper-level positions Job duties: Ever wondered about the masterminds behind Instagram Stories or Snapchat filters? Everything that makes an app worth downloading is created almost entirely by application developers. When things go awry, application developers are also tasked with testing, debugging, and improving faulty applications for clients to ensure a streamlined customer experience. 4. Executive recruiter Rate: $35/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, remote opportunities Education/requirements: Bachelor's degree Job duties: Finding the perfect candidate for CEO, COO, and other high-level positions isn't always easy for companies. Enter: an executive recruiter. Executive recruiters find candidates to fill executive positions in no time, saving companies from weeding through hundreds of applications. They often work within recruiting agencies hired by companies in order to find qualified candidates for their open positions. Executive recruiters may also be asked to assist in training new candidates and presenting candidates to management. 3. Adjunct faculty Rate: $39/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, temporary, opportunities to work at night, some remote opportunities Education/requirements: Master's degree Job duties: Adjunct faculty at colleges or universities are tasked with providing course instruction, giving student feedback, answering student inquiries, grading assignments, and participating in faculty meetings. Unlike full-time professors, adjunct faculty usually only teach a handful of classes. This allows adjunct faculty members to be flexible with their class times and choose subjects they have a wealth of knowledge on. 2. Marketing consultant Rate: $40/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, freelance, remote Education/requirements: No degree required, often need 3-7 years experience Job duties: Marketing consultants manage digital marketing, email campaigns, and web layouts to support the sales process for companies and businesses. They often work independently or on behalf of a consulting agency, meaning they are not actually employed by the companies they consult for. Marketing consultants also track sales and feedback to determine the success of their marketing strategies. For creative individuals with a background in marketing or sales, this flexible side job may be a perfect match. 1. Medical writer Rate: $41/hr Time commitment & flexibility: Part-time, remote, freelance opportunities Education/requirements: Relevant experience, bachelor's or master's degree Job duties: Medical writers should have strong writing skills and feel comfortable tackling research-based pieces. Medical writers conduct research and write technical projects including journals, abstracts, and other publications for medical practitioners, online medical resources, and more. Due to the need for strong research skills and a high-level educational background, medical writers make the most money per hour on this list — up to $50 per hour! Read more: 14 side jobs to try if you're looking to make extra money 10 websites to help you find remote work or freelance jobs quickly 10 in-demand remote jobs that are hiring right now, including some that pay six-figure salaries These 14 remote jobs with 6-figure salaries are all hiring right now
Santa School trainees are learning how to celebrate a socially distanced Christmas with face shields and velvet masks
Summary List Placement Donning festive face shields and red velvet masks are just a couple ways...Summary List Placement Donning festive face shields and red velvet masks are just a couple ways performers at a professional Santa school are figuring out how to celebrate Christmas during a pandemic. The Ministry of Fun, an entertainment company in London, claims to have the longest-running Santa training school in the United Kingdom. For 25 years, director James Lovell has been teaching wannabe Kris Kringles everything from reindeer names and costume design to how to handle fussy children. This year, Christmas parties and Santa Claus visits will have to be coronavirus-safe, so Santa School started early to allow for training of a new set of skills. "We need to be able to reassure the nation and people that book Father Christmas that it is still possible to produce a Christmas grotto safely and magically," Lovell told Business Insider Today. For one, Santa School students are learning how to manage long lines and enforce social distancing. Instead of having kids sit with Santa, they'll be seated 2 meters away, and can take a gift from a small sled, completely contact-free. "We want everyone to know that, you know, all the precautions are set in place so that Santa's safe," one Santa trainee said. "All the children are safe, and the adults are safe as well." The Santa School usually gets up to 700 bookings by September ahead of Christmas season, but this year, it's only seen half that. Lovell says the British government has only made guidelines more confusing. Movie theaters and museums are open in the UK, but fears of a second wave have left some hesitant to embrace a "normal" Christmas. "It's not that people have said no, it's just that they are hesitating about saying yes. There are a lot of mixed messages," Lovell said. "People don't really know what they're supposed to be doing." The director says families can rest assured that close contact with strangers can be easily avoided during a visit with Santa. And with all the coronavirus precautions and proper training in place, he's confident that Christmas won't be canceled this year. "You can't have Christmas without Santa. And so I'm hoping that after today, people will be reassured and we'll start booking them as they normally do," he said. "After everything that's happened this year, the magic of Father Christmas is more important than ever before, really. People need cheering up. I think more than ever this year, Father Christmas should be out there making people smile again."SEE ALSO: A coffee company in the UK is teaching inmates barista skills so they can find work on the outside DON'T MISS: Alternative-meat startup is hoping a 3D-printed steak can upend the meat industry Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Inside London during COVID-19 lockdown
The dancer and choreographer was on a career high when the pandemic hit. Now she has...The dancer and choreographer was on a career high when the pandemic hit. Now she has created a virtual school powered by the kind of social dance at the heart of her work.