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Monday, April 28, 2008

Is drug free treatment of "Attention Deficit Disorder"possible?

According to a research, between 4 and 12 percent of school-age children have ADHD. It has been given a great deal of attention by neurologists and psychologists. ADHD is now widely recognized as a legitimate mental health problem.

Attention Deficit Disorder(ADD) and / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) are common disorders among children and adults. But are they really affecting our lives or career?

To know more about these mental disorders go to:
* What is "Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD)"?

* Latitudes.org"- helping us in alternative therapies!

"Drug-Free Treatment of ADD"
By Lendon Smith, M.D. has fought for children's health and nutrition issues for over three decades. Dr. Smith was among the first to caution against sugar, white flour, and junk food known to contribute to sickness, hyperactivity, obesity, allergies, and many illnesses in children and adults.

(This article is a taken from an exclusive interview in Dr. Joseph Mercola’s Newsletter, available at http://www.mercola.com/)

My father was a pediatrician and he believed that behavior was more genetic than environmentally produced. I was going to be a psychiatrist from about age 15 on. I felt that if we straightened out one generation, every one, including their children, would be normal after that - Freudian concept (wrong!).
In my fourth year in medical school I attended a lecture by a Portland pediatric neurologist. In the 1930s he was in charge of a home for "oddball" children. One of his clients was a wild and crazy girl. He told his nurse to give her a dose of bromide. She reached up and by mistake got hold of the benzedrine bottle. In about 30 minutes the girl was asleep.
The doctor said to the nurse, "That bromide works." The nurse said, "What did you say?"
Of course she had to fill out an accident report, but the two of them could not believe the therapeutic results. They repeated the maverick dose the next day and the girl calmed down again. The doctor wrote a paper about this and it was reported in one of the pediatric journals. He noted that most of the kids he was seeing for this same syndrome had had some sort of "hurt" to the nervous system at birth such as:
• Cord around the neck
• Prematurity
• Second of twins
• Collapsed lungs
He felt it was a "hurt" to the part of the nervous system that had to do with self-control. He had no idea why a stimulant had this calming effect. We now know that it is because there is not enough norepinephrine in their limbic system, the part of the brain that is supposed to filter out unimportant stimuli.
This serendipitous result of an accident has now allowed the psychiatrists and pediatricians to prescribe this type of narcotic drug to 4,000,000 kids on any given school day, and even pushed some of them into psychosis and homicide.
I was one of those drug-pushing pediatricians for a couple of decades. Then it became clear to me that there was a pattern to the behavior of these children. Genetics is there, of course, and can result in "hurts" to the nervous system, but my patients were 80% boys. I found in examining them --- trying to find some common denominator that I could use as a diagnostic criterion --- that they were exquisitely ticklish.
They were unable to disregard unimportant stimuli.
That is why they have trouble in the classroom with 30 other kids burping, coughing, passing gas and dropping pencils. The teacher says, "Charlie, sit down and stop moving around." No wonder home schooling is becoming popular.
Blood tests were not helpful, but hair tests showed me that they were all low in calcium and especially magnesium. No wonder they craved chocolate. (There is more magnesium in chocolate than any other food on earth.)
I began to treat them with oral doses of 500 mg magnesium and 1000 mg calcium daily. It took three weeks, but 80% of them were able to get off Ritalin or dextroamphetamine, or whatever stimulant they were on. It did not work on all of them. As time went by, I had them take vitamin B6 if dream recall was poor and essential fatty acids if they had dry skin or a history of eczema. If they had ear infections as infants, they were taken off milk.
As time went on, I found it worked on adults if they had symptoms of ticklishness and inability to disregard unimportant stimuli. Apparently these people have some enzyme defect, genetic or nutritional, that prevented them from making norepinephrine, a stimulant, which we all now recognize is made to help the filtering device in the limbic system do its job.
It is too bad that psychiatrists have failed to recognize that if a stimulant acts as a calming agent, then they must shore up the flagging enzyme that is under-producing. This all fits with the damage that we have done to the top soil. It is washing and blowing away and with it, the magnesium. The psychiatrists have made ADD/ADHD a disease, like pneumonia.
It is actually a syndrome due to a defect in the screening device of the brain. I understand that since they had made it a disease they can be compensated for treating it. Another rule they have used: "If the Ritalin works, they need it." Sort of like a Ritalin deficiency.
But the condition is not a bona fide disease. It’s a collection of symptoms and signs that seems to get in the way of a child being educated. The teacher or school administrator is usually the one who suggests that the child see a doctor for the behavior problem (psychiatrist or pediatrician), whom they know will put the kid on Ritalin or a similar drug.
The doctor hears the story from the parents that her child (usually her son) will be thrown out of school unless something is done. She has tried isolation, spankings, standing in the corner, etc, but nothing seems to work. She also knows that a one-to-one situation would be effective.
The teacher may write down the symptoms noticed: restlessness, talkative, doesn't seem to listen, forgetful, short attention span, distractible, class clown, wants attention, may be a bully, as well as a few other related symptoms and signs.
The doctor knows what to do. Usually without even an exam, except a quick look in the eyes, and a listen to see if his heart is beating, the doctor reaches for his prescription pad and writes one out for Ritalin, 5 mg, #20 (or one of the newer drugs of the same type). "Try one or two in the morning after breakfast, and see what the teacher says. It may wreck his appetite, however."
The next day, the very first day of treatment, his attention span is better and he cannot eat his lunch. It works. It is a miracle. The doctor is called and thanked profusely. He assumes since it works that the boy needs it.
When I became familiar with nutrition, I found that if a stimulant drug had a calming effect like the above, it meant that the child did not have enough norepinephrine (a stimulant) in his limbic system, and that I could help with a good diet and some supplements which should shore up the enzymes in his brain that make that neurotransmitter.
• If he had ever had ear infections, I stopped his dairy products, and added calcium 1,000 mg, usually at bedtime.
• If he was ticklish, I added magnesium - 500 mg is usually safe for child or adult.
• If he was a "Jekyll and Hyde" type of person (severe mood swings), he had intermittent low blood sugar and he needed to nibble all day to keep his blood sugar up. Or at least eat some additional protein and less carbohydrates for better maintenance of blood sugar levels. No sugar or white-flour junk food.
• If he could not remember his dreams, he needed vitamin B6 - 50 mg is about right.
• If he ever had eczema or dry scaly skin, he is to take the essential fatty acids.
• If he had dark circle under his eyes, he was eating something to which he is sensitive. Milk, wheat, corn, chocolate, eggs, citrus. Usually it is his favorite food.
I often ask these children what they like to eat. I often get a smart-alec answer, like, "rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, and broccoli." (The mother is sitting in her chair shaking her head.) People tend to eat the food to which they are sensitive. It is like the alcoholic who has low blood sugar. The child who loves milk is usually sensitive to it. They continue to drink dairy products, because somehow they need the calcium, but they are so sensitive to it, it does not get absorbed. Blood and hair tests will reveal the deficiencies.
Back in the 1960s and 70s, I began to notice there were certain common symptoms and signs amongst the "hyper" children I saw who had been pre-diagnosed by the teachers.
In addition to being 80% boys, they were usually blue-eyed blondes or green-eyed redheads.
About half of them had dark circles under their eyes (a give-away that they were eating something to which they were sensitive. Not necessarily allergic, but at least sensitive.) In most cases, that sign indicated a dairy sensitivity.
That stimulated me to ask about any ear infections the child had as an infant. Almost all had suffered from a few of those painful conditions. This is another clue that dairy products may account for some of the symptoms. Next question I asked the mother: "Does he drink milk?" Her answer: "Oh, yes, he loves it. Isn't he supposed to drink it?" Well, yes and no. If a person loves something, it suggests that he is allergic, addicted, or sensitive to it. Like chocolate or booze.
Next question for the mother: "Anything unusual about the pregnancy with him?" Many, but not all, of the mothers responded with some or all of the following problems:
• Nausea for all the nine months
• Not much weight gain during the pregnancy
• Threatened miscarriage with spotty bleeding
• Overwhelming food cravings (sweets, chocolate, dairy, pickles, or whatever)
• Emotional stress (e.g., stress from mother-in-law)
• Fetus was always moving in the uterus ("he once kicked so hard, he knocked me out of bed.")
Some mothers had delivery problems like:
• Placenta previa
• Precipitous delivery
• Nurse tried to hold him back
• Big baby--- over 10 pounds
• Small --- under 4 pounds
• Blue coloring at birth
• Needed the incubator for a few days
Still other mothers reported problems during early infancy:
• Could not latch on to breast feeding
• Constant colic for the first several weeks
• Required many formula changes
Some had all of the above; but some had none of them.
Then there followed the ear infections, as well as high fever and screaming after the vaccinations. He was a "touchy" kid.
My next question: "Does he have mood swings? Is he a Jekyl-and-Hyde person?" If yes, it is due to fluctuating blood sugar, as sugar (glucose) is a substance that the brain needs in a constant supply.
Then the physical exam started. He noticed what I was doing and needed constant reassurance that I was not going to hurt him. The heart was beating, and as I moved the stethoscope around to hear the different heart sounds, he would ask, "Can't you find it?" When I looked in his ears, and usually noted some retraction of the eardrums, he acted a if he could hear the light. The abdominal exam was difficult because he was so ticklish --- exquisitely so. I had to forget the hernia exam, even though I had backed him up against the wall by this time. These patients were usually of wirey and/or athletic build; they were rarely obese.
Because so many of these patients had some or all of the above symptoms and signs, it suggested to me that they had a vitamin or more likely, a mineral deficiency. I did some blood and hair tests. All of them, yes, all of them, had a calcium and magnesium deficiency, despite the fact that many were drinking a quart of milk a day. Apparently they could not absorb the calcium from the dairy products because of their sensitivity. The intestines were rejecting it. It also explained why they loved the milk: somehow the body was telling them to drink it to get the calcium.
Another possibility: when they had ear infections, they were put on antibiotics and those frequently needless use of powerful drugs could have wiped out the friendly bacteria and allowed the yeast, candida to grow, or at least produce an intestinal dysbiosis, and poor absorption. As I mentioned previously, but can't stress enough, there is this rule: If you love something, you are probably sensitive to it.
Diagnosis Recap
Just to recap some of my previous statements, after a few years of trying to be a good diagnostician, I accumulated these findings:
1. If a person is ticklish, goosey, sensitive, and notices everything in his environment, as he is unable to disregard unimportant stimuli, it means that he is low in magnesium, and possibly calcium. Muscle cramps and trouble relaxing or going to sleep also suggest low magnesium and calcium. These symptoms correlate nicely with the hair test showing low levels of these two minerals.
2. Poor dream recall is related to a need for vitamin B6.
3. A history of eczema or dry, scaly skin usually means a person is low in the essential fatty acids. These acids are also necessary for brain function. The nutmeg-grater feel to the skin on the thighs and back of the upper arms is usually a Vitamin A deficiency. White spot on the nails is due to low zinc.
4. A bad self-image could be the result if the parents, teachers, and classmates who are all screaming at him to sit still, shut up, and constantly asking disparagingly "What are you doing now?"
Ritalin works in just 30 minutes, while the minerals and the other supplements and diet changes take about three weeks to achieve results. The whole family has to stop the desserts, sugars, white flour, and "put-downs". Too many questions and commands lead to the poor self image.
The Use of Drugs on Children
There is no doubt that stimulant drugs are being over-prescribed for these out-of-control children. If, however, the prescribing doctor feels he/she has no alternative for the child who has been "diagnosed" by the teacher who is trying to scrape this child off the wall, the drug seems mandatory. "If it works, the child needs it" seems to be the motto.
Those of us working with these children like Dr. Doris Rapp and Dr. Billy Crook have no doubt that this is usually "a physiological screwup" and not a disease. (One reason it is called a disease is that insurance companies need a standard diagnosis before they will pay for the treatment.) ADHD and ADD have been now called diseases and have a diagnosis code number, for the psychiatrists along with the previously mentioned "disease" called dyscalculia.
ADHD will subsequently soon become a palpable disease called a neurosis when the child gets depressed and even suicidal if he is put down at every turn by teachers, parents, and his peers.
The only result of these drugs for a vast majority of kids --- as I have come to realize --- is that they will temporarily control the restless behavior.
If it works, it is not a "Ritalin deficiency", but likely a magnesium, calcium, or vitamin B6 deficiency. I have learned from my naturopathic and herbal therapists that our topsoil is becoming deficient in several minerals. The farmers are putting nitrogen, phosphates, and potassium (NPK) on the soil and their plants grow and look healthy but magnesium, zinc, selenium and other valuable minerals are depleted.
At the height of the dust bowl, the US Department of Agriculture put out a "white paper" saying that the minerals in the top soil were deficient and people may have to supply their own with supplements to avoid sickness and problems like early aging, heart attacks, joint problems, and surliness.
The point seems to be that sometimes we cannot get everything we need for healthy living from eating foods from the store or maybe even from organic farms, although those will likely be better.
Then, on top of that, if we or our children are eating the "Standard American Diet" (SAD) our nutritional status will only be worse. If a person has even one cavity, he is flawed already, and it is a clue that other nasties are just around the corner.
Even after nutritional therapy, maybe a small percent, like ten percent or less of "hyper" children may be thought to need the drugs to calm them, mainly because they have had some sort of injury to their nervous system that diet will not touch.
Many of those, however, can be still be salvaged with neurodevelopment therapy. I have seen the work of those therapists and know of the miracles they can perform. Homeopathy is a well-known and sometimes surprising type of treatment, that has saved many of these "throw away" children before they give up and go into crime for their kicks.
There are so many side effects from the stimulant drugs, I would recommend that the diet modifications, outlined elsewhere, should be tried first. These children realize they are not so bad and will even start to smile and laugh. It helped me. I was the class clown in the 6th grade, because the teacher did not know what to do with me besides making me the "humor editor" of the class newspaper.
Don't give up on these children! Remember Edison, Sir Winston Churchill, and Einstein.
Practical Tips on Children, from Pregnancy On
A couple should start taking nutrients as soon as they decide to have a child --- if they can predict this sometimes unpredictable event. Folic acid is a must for the mother to start before conception. He needs zinc, and they both should be on essential fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, and the B complex.
Vitamin C, starting at 1,000 mg a day for the first three months and then moving up to 5,000 mg a day until delivery day, has been shown to provide a more care-free pregnancy, a baby with few allergies, and an increased chance of being able to breastfeed successfully. (Dr. Frederick Klenner)
She should aim to gain about 30 pounds during the pregnancy.
The baby is more likely to be healthy and free of allergies. She should not drink cow's milk every day, if at all, and rotating the other ingredients of the diet would be important to prevent the possibility of allergies. No one should eat foods that come in packages.
Do not have sugar or white flour products in the house: someone will eat them!
Organically grown foods are better.
However, they still may not contain all the minerals needed for health. She should aim for breast feeding for the first year of the baby's life at a minimum. A lactation expert can help plan for that activity.
If possible, a home birth is less traumatic than a hospital one. Nurse, nurse, nurse is the smart way to feed the baby. No solids for the first six to eight months and then maybe some steamed zucchini or homemade applesauce to start. One might wonder about the vaccines, which we now know can be factors in the production of neurological symptoms.
Love and limits are the rules for rearing a child.
Ear infections should not be treated with antibiotics, if possible, as their use may lead to overgrowth of the yeast, Candidiasis and dysfunction of the intestines. These infections are a give-away that the child is eating something to which he is sensitive or even allergic, like cow's milk. (If the mother is drinking cow milk, those sensitizing proteins could be in her breast milk.)
There are safe natural methods of treating these infections. She can place a little vitamin C powder on her nipples every day and the baby will suck it off. The dose is about 100 mg of C per day per month of age: the six-month old would get 600 mgs a day. The dose would be 1,000 mg daily at one year and about 2,000 mg per day at age two, then decide how much daily for life after that age.
Preventing infections and the use of antibiotics should keep the baby's intestines functioning optimally. The dysbiosis of the gut may lead to improper nutrient absorption and nutritional imbalances. (From Dr Billy Crook)
If the child shows any of the telltale signs of hyperactivity like ticklishness, overreaction to sights and especially sounds, they would lead the alert parents to suspect incipient ADD. Magnesium in the 300 to 500 mg amounts daily should help. Once the parents are shouting and scolding more than they are complimenting and rewarding the child, then some psychiatric screw-up may be on its way secondary to the neurologic or nutritional defect.
Parents should be able to say nice things to their child twice as often as they give commands or ask questions.
Be nice to your child, hyper or not. He/she is the one who will put you away in a nursing home some day.
In addition:
• Bedwetting after age five years may be a clue about food sensitivities or low magnesium. (Magnesium can help the bladder muscles stretch and hold the required amount so the child may stay dry all night.)
• White spots on the nails are not a clue that the child has a lover; it is a sign of low zinc intake.
• Dry skin or eczema suggests low intake of essential fatty acids.
Breastfeeding is protective in warding off the risk of developing ADD and a host of other problems.
The essential fatty acids and many other substances present are important for the development of the brain. The breastfed baby has a slightly higher IQ than the strictly bottle fed baby. Breastfed babies have fewer infections, and hence require fewer antibiotics than the bottle fed ones. As previously discussed, if antibiotics are used for every infection that comes along, the infant and child (and adult) is likely to develop the candida yeast infection in the intestines with its attendant problems of malabsorption or dysbiosis.
Also, the immune system does not learn anything; it is not strengthened when antibiotics are used. In addition, breastfed babies are more likely to develop a better set of jaws and optimally spaced teeth. (Dr. Weston Price.)
The benefits of breastfeeding are not limited to the substances in the milk itself. Closeness and bonding are an important part of growing up.
Babies breastfed are more likely to be secure --- not spoiled ---secure.
The best years of my life were spent in the arms of another man's wife --- my mother.
There is a notion out there among some child experts that it’s best to let a baby "cry it out" in the crib when he or she is having a fit. I think that this concept sounds like an abomination of what parenting stands for. I understand this is what the Third Reich advocated, because in the 30s and 40s, the Nazi idea was to rear a tough Aryan race of children who would be obedient, used to stress, and learn to rise above the pain.
The Nazis had blue-eyed blonde true "Aryans" mate and reproduce, but the children were placed in nurseries with tough, no-nonsense nurses who "supervised" their care. The infants were only fed and changed at set intervals. Holding and cuddling was not allowed. The children thus treated --- or not treated --- in their infancy grew up to be stupid.
Love and cuddling conquers all.
If your baby cries, pick the poor thing up and try to find out what the matter is. Many people cannot believe that their baby could be hungry. You must remember that the stomach can empty itself in just an hour and a half. Assume that hunger is the cause. If the distressed little thing vomits, and then feels better, assume their is something wrong with the milk. It is most likely a sensitivity to cow milk.
Babies NEED people whom they can trust. They need to feel secure, and I might add, and a feeling that they are wanted.
The Feingold Diet
About 30 years ago, I met the late Dr. Ben Feingold, an allergist in San Francisco. He had found that many people were sensitive to aspirin. They often developed asthma, nasal polyps, skin rashes and even irritability and odd behavior, including hyperactivity. When he had these patients, often adults, stop using aspirin, the symptoms, including surliness and hyperactivity disappeared.
That started the whole Feingold Association. He discovered that aspirin or salicylates were also in many foods, including citrus, some berries, and other fruits and some vegetables. Mothers of children with hyperactivity could tell when her child ate some of the forbidden foods. It certainly worked for some children.
I was on a panel of doctors talking to parents of these children, and asked him why he did not eliminate sugar while he was at it. Ben's reply was "I bit off a little more than I could handle with the salicylate business."

Dr. Lendon Smith website: http://www.lifebalancesintl.com/

Read more at the topic:
"PhosADD Australia" brings to families affected by ADD/ADHD information on the discoveries of German pharmacist and researcher Hertha Hafer.
Her successful work over thirty years reveals that dietary phosphate is a major cause of today's ADHD epidemic.
Link to the site: ADHD and ADD. The Hyperactive Child

More resources:

* ADD Treatment Centre

* Treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD) from "Psych Central.com.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Family Web Watch" - helping your learn safe use of internet

As internet use is increased in last few years and number of people having access to internet is increasing very rapidly. Internet is a source of knowledge and learning, but at other side, we and our families are at risk. I try to bookmark all the sites or blogs, which provide any kind of internet safety guides or posts. As a parent and then an educator I can understand that we have to save ourselves from dangers of internet.

Family web watch is one of the blogs which parents can trust, because these kind of sites provide safe online surfing tips and resources.

You’ll find reviews about products and services that can help you reduce your risk to online threats. Other reviews involve sites that parents should watch out for to know where their child should and should not participate. I also post things that I think are safe, fun, and educational.

Ken Cooper, the author of this blog is an enthusiast of "protecting families in an online world". There are not many posts at the blog, as it is relatively new, but you can subscribe to the blog, to get fresh posting news at your inbox.

Blog is very useful as well as interesting for parents, kids and children, because there are many links, advice and tips for everyone.


More sites and posts about internet safety:

* Kids Konnect"- A safe internet gateway for kids!

* The world’s largest Internet Safety site “Wired Kids”

* Sites and links providing help for safe internet use!

* Useful links for online safety !

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Fema for kids"- teaching how to be prepared for disasters!

Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA is in charge of helping people before and after a disaster. FEMA is called in to help when the President declares a disaster. Disasters are "declared" after hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes or other similar events strike a community. The Governor of the state must ask for help from the President before FEMA can respond.

FEMA workers help disaster victims find a place to stay if their homes were damaged or destroyed.
FEMA also helps repair homes and works with city officials to fix public buildings that have been damaged.

FEMA helps people BEFORE a disaster so they will be ready. FEMA teaches people how to prepare for a disaster and how to make their homes as safe as possible. FEMA works with communities to help them build safer, stronger buildings that are less likely to be damaged. FEMA also trains firefighters and emergency workers, and runs a flood insurance program. FEMA is part of the EXECUTIVE BRANCH, which means it reports to the President of the United States.

Fema for kids teaches you to be prepared for disasters and prevent disaster damage.

You can also learn what causes disasters, play games, read stories and become a Disaster Action Kid.
Parents and teachers page has activities, curriculum and safety information you can use in the classroom or at home!

* Disaster web sites

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lean how the world actually works at "How stuff works?"-

It is exciting to learn new things and I believe that learning never ends. Being an educator I learn a lot from my students also. Internet has done a great favour for everyone, by providing a wealth of information by a click of mouse. Now you talk about dictionary or encyclopedia or news, everything is in your hands ( a click away).

At " How Stuff Works", you would feel like exploring the world in an easy and interactive way. Parents, teachers and students can equally get useful information about any topic from How stuff work?.

Let's see what you can find there:

From car engines to search engines, from cell phones to stem cells, and thousands of subjects in between, HowStuffWorks has answered it. You can find comprehensive articles, helpful graphics and informative videos on every topic.

On HowStuffWorks, you can also find consumer opinions and exclusive access to independent expert ratings and reviews from the trusted editors at Consumer Guide -- all of the information you need to make a purchasing decisions ¬in just a few clicks.

Mission:
“Demystify the world and do it in a simple, clear-cut way that anyone can understand"
Achievements:
HowStuffWorks has won multiple Webby awards, was among Time Magazine's "25 Web Sites We Can't Live Without" in 2006 and 2007, and has been one of PC Magazine's "Top 100 Web Sites" four times, including in 2007. Recently, HowStuffWorks became part of the Discovery Communications family, in a merger that will make HowStuffWorks the cornerstone of Discovery’s digital platform and ultimately create a fully multimedia version of an encyclopedia, with content and video that will answer virtually any question an Internet user might have. A HowStuffWorks program on the Discovery Channel is currently in the works.

HowStuffWorks, a wholly owned subsidiary of Discovery Communications, is the award-winning source of credible, unbiased, and easy-to-understand explanations of how the world actually works.
This site was founded by North Carolina State University Professor Marshall Brain in 1998.


To get newsletter from the site:

How stuff work?

Related post:

How things work?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Note taking techniques

These tips and techniques are very useful as they are suggested from known College or Universities or their teachers. Proper note taking can help you in getting good grades. So keep this tips and techniques in mind either you are a student or teacher. Because these are equally useful for both.

These tips are provided from "Academic Tips.org":

Note Taking Techniques
"The most comprehensive note taking systems require attention on your part. You must be alert enough in class to take legible, meaningful notes. You can't rely on "writing everything down" because a lot of information in a given lecture won't help you actually learn the material. If you have problems determining the specific relevant points in a particular class, you can always ask the professor to clarify them for you.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

"Reading Rocket"- helping kids learn to read


Reading Rocket is a comprehensive and daily updated web site that includes reading news headlines, research-based articles, tips for parents and educators, video interviews with top children's book authors, a monthly e-newsletter, national and local resources, an online store, and much more.

"Reading Rocket" is a national multimedia project that offers research-based and best-practice information on teaching kids to read and helping those who struggle. It is an educational service of public television station WETA in Washington, D.C.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that one in five children has serious difficulties learning to read. These children are potentially among the most troubled kids in society. With early identification and a lot of help, however, children who struggle to read can flourish; without it they are at risk for failure in school and in life.
Reading Rockets: Reading & Language Arts Teaching Strategies for Kids

ReadingRockets.org


Since 1965, the federal government has invested more than $100 million to find out why so many children have problems learning to read and what can be done. Thanks to that research, we now know how to identify children at risk and how to help them before they fail. Reading Rockets' mission is to take that research-based and best-practice information and make it available to as many people as possible through the power and reach of television and the Internet.

Mission:
Reading Rockets aims to inform and inspire parents, teachers, childcare providers, administrators, and others who touch the life of a child by providing accurate, accessible information on how to teach kids to read and help those who struggle.

- The project is guided by an advisory panel made up of leading researchers and experts in the field of reading. They produce and distribute research-based PBS television programs, online services, and professional development opportunities, which are available at no cost.

* Teachers page gives you information that's research-based on how to teach reading effectively.
- Strategies to Help Kids Who Struggle

Sign up for free
newsletters to receive news and information about key issues in reading, learning disabilities, and other areas of learning.

* Free print guides created for parents, teachers, and others who want to improve the reading achievement of children. You're welcome to download and print these guides for your own use.
Link: Reading Guides

- Download link of the guides: Guides from Reading Rockets
- These are many of our favorite guides, published by organizations devoted to reading and literacy issues: Guides from Other Organizations

Friday, April 4, 2008

Eleven tips: parents can encourage the children to become good readers!


Teachers and parents both can play an important role in making the child a good reader.
Research has shown that enjoying books with a child for even a few minutes a day can make a measurable difference in the acquisition of basic reading skills, and that everyday activities – such as a trip to the grocery store – can be turned into enjoyable learning experiences.

These are 11 tips for parents can encourage the children to become good readers:

1- Create appreciation of the written word
Find time to read aloud with your child every day. Typically, parents play an important role in developing this skill by reading to children and showing how important reading is to their daily life. Lap time with picture books and stories can strongly motivate your child to enjoy reading. Try to make these books available for your children to explore and enjoy on their own as well.

2- Develop awareness of printed language
Teach about books. When reading aloud to your child, let your child open the book and turn the pages. Point to the words as you read. Draw attention to repeated phrases, inviting your child to join in each time they occur.

Point out letters and words that you run across in daily life. Make an obvious effort to read aloud traffic signs, billboards, notices, labels on packages, maps, and phone numbers. Make outings a way to encourage reading by showing your child how printed words relate to daily living.

3- Learn the alphabet
Play alphabet games. Sing the alphabet song to help your child learn letters as you play with alphabet books, blocks, and magnetic letters. Recite letters as you go up and down stairs or give pushes on a swing. A-B-C, dot-to-dot and letter-play workbooks, games, and puzzles are available at most toy stores. Many engaging computer games are designed for teaching children letters. Make sure these toys are available even when you are unable to play along.

Watch Sesame Street with your child. Show the child how to sing along, answer the riddles, and engage actively in its fun.

Make writing materials available to your child and encourage their use. Help your child learn to write his/her name and other important words or phrases. Gradually, help the child learn to write more and more letters. At first, most children find it easier to write uppercase letters.

4- Understand the relation of letters and words
Teach your child to spell a few special words, such as his/her name, stop, or exit. Challenge the child to read these words every place they are seen. Draw attention to these and other frequently occurring words as you read books with your child. Challenge the child to read these words as they arise or to search them out on a page. Play word-building games with letter tiles or magnetic letters. Have the child build strings of letters for you to read.

Understand that language is made of words, syllables, and phonemes
Sing songs and read rhyming books. Sing the alphabet with your child, and teach your child songs that emphasize rhyme and alliteration, such as "Willaby Wallaby Woo" and "Down By the Sea." Emphasize the sounds as you sing. Play rhyming games and clap out names. Jumble the wording or word order of familiar poems and challenge your child to detect the error. Talk like a robot, syllable by syllable.

5- Play word games. Challenge your child to play with words. For example, ask your child to think of words that rhyme with bat or begin with /m/. What would be left if you took the /k/ sound out of cat? What would you have if you put these sounds together: /p/ and ickle; /m/ and ilk; and /s/, /a/, and /t/. Which of these words starts with a different sound – bag, candy, bike? Do boat and baby start with the same sound?

6- Learn letter sounds
Sound out letters. Point out other words that begin with the same letter as your child's name, drawing attention to the similarities of the beginning sound. Use alphabet books, computer games, or car games such as, "I'm thinking of something that starts with /b/" to engage the child in alliterative and letter-sound play. If you have a book that lends itself to alliteration and rhyme, such as a Dr. Seuss book, sound out rhyming words as you read or challenge the child to do so for you. Play word games that connect sounds with syllables and words. For example: If this spells cat, how do you spell hat?

7- Sound out new words
Point out new words. As you encounter them, say the sound while touching each letter in a new word. For example, say "s-u-n" and then blend sounds to create the word. In practicing new words, use predictable words with common sounds and spellings, like fun or sat instead of night or saw.

If you encounter words with unknown meanings or with complex spellings, encourage your child to try to sound out the words. However, if too many words require this kind of attention and effort, it is best to find an easier book.

Play spelling games with your child. After your child begins pronouncing words, encourage spelling by saying each sound in the words and then writing the letter that goes with the sound.

Encourage your child to spell. After your child has learned to pronounce words, have the child say each sound.

Independent writing. Encourage your child to use inventive or independent spelling. At this stage, the child will tend to omit letters and confuse letter names with letter sounds, producing such spellings as LFNT for elephant, BN for bean, and FARE for fairy. Use correction wisely. What you should be most concerned about is the child's sensitivity to the sounds that need to be represented.

8- Identify words in print accurately and easily
Help your children to read easy, enjoyable stories as often as possible. It is likely that your child will enjoy reading more and learn more from reading if you sit together, taking turns reading and encouraging discussion. In the beginning, invite the child to read well-chosen words. Gradually, as the child becomes able, take turns with sentences, speakers, paragraphs, and pages. At the end of each section or story, revisit those words that caused trouble. Rereading the entire story over several days, and again weeks later, is a powerful way to reinforce this learning.

9- Know spelling patterns
Now it becomes useful to point out the similarities between words such as will, fill, and hill or light, night, and sight. This is also the time to help your child learn the correct spelling of the words he/she writes.

10- Learn to read reflectively
Pause for discussions as you read. As you read stories to and with your child, stop frequently to discuss their language, content, and relevance to real life and other knowledge. Pause to explore the meanings of new words, using them in other sentences and contrasting what they mean with words that have similar meanings. Make an effort to revisit new words and concepts later, when the book has been put aside.

When reading stories, pause to discuss the various characters, problems, events in the story, and invite your child to think about how the problems might be solved or to wonder about what might happen next. When resuming a story, ask your child to review what has happened so far, drawing attention to looming mysteries and unresolved conflicts. In reading expository text, invite the child to marvel at the creatures or events described and to wonder about details or connections not mentioned by the text.

11-Above all: read, read, and re-read.

These tips for parents from top researchers for children with learning disabilities.
By: Ed Kame'enui, Marilyn J. Adams, and G. Reid Lyon
Link: Tips for Parents from Top Researchers

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Poor eating habits and how to change it?

Both parents and teachers teach their kids about healthy eating and spread the words about it. I have adviced many parents in this regard to check if their children are getting proper healthy diet. Because poor eating habits can effect the performance of your child at school.

Healthy food means "Eating a variety of foods, which could provide your child, essential nutrients such as protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, and minerals to well-nourish her/him. Naturally poor eating healthy habits would result in weak immune system, which increases the chances of sickness.

What are the poor eating habits?

Poor eating habits include:

- Eating a very limited variety of foods.
- Refusing to eat entire groups of foods such as vegetables.
- Eating too many foods of poor nutritional quality such as soft drinks, chips, and doughnuts.
- Overeating due to being served large portions or due to a parent saying "clean your plate" or "finish it all up.

What causes poor eating habits?
Poor eating habits can develop in otherwise healthy children for several reasons. Infants are born liking sweet tastes. But if babies are going to learn to eat a wide variety of basic foods, they need to learn to like other tastes, because many nutritious foods don't taste sweet.

Available food choices: If candy and soft drinks are always available, most children will choose these foods rather than a more nutritious snack. But forbidding these choices can make your child want them even more. You can include some less-nutritious foods as part of your child's meals so that he or she learns to enjoy them along with other foods. Although in the division of responsibility it is your child's job to decide how much of a food he or she will eat at a meal, it is okay to limit dessert to one serving. It is your responsibility as a parent to decide what foods are offered as well as when and where meals and snacks are offered. Try to keep a variety of nutritious and appealing food choices available.

Healthy and kid-friendly snack ideas include:

- String cheese.
- Whole-wheat crackers and peanut butter.
- Air-popped or low-fat microwave popcorn.
- Frozen juice bars made with 100% real fruit.
- Fruit and dried fruit.
- Baby carrots with hummus or bean dip.
- Low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit.

The need for personal choice.
Power struggles between a parent and child can affect eating behavior. If children are pressured to eat a certain food, they are more likely to refuse to eat that food, even if it is something they usually would enjoy. Remember, your responsibility is to provide a variety of nutritious foods. Your child's job is to decide what and how much he or she will eat from the choices you offer.
Emotion. A child's sadness, anxiety, or family crisis can cause undereating or overeating. If you think your child's emotions are affecting his or her eating, focus on resolving the problem that is causing the emotions instead of focusing on the eating behavior.

If your child is healthy and eating a nutritious and varied diet, yet eats very little, he or she may simply need less food energy (calories) than other children. Similarly, some children need more daily calories than others the same age or size, and they eat more than you might expect. Every child has different calorie needs.

In rare cases, a child may eat more or less than usual because of a medical condition that affects his or her appetite. If your child has a medical condition that affects how he or she eats, talk with your child's doctor about how you can help your child get the right amount of nutrition.

What are the risks of eating poorly?
A child with poor eating habits is going to be poorly nourished. That is, he or she won't be getting the amounts of nutrients needed for healthy growth and development. This can lead to being underweight or overweight. Poorly nourished children tend to have weaker immune systems, which increases their chances of illness. Poor eating habits can increase a child's risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes later in life.

Source: Healthy eating for children

To read more about the topic:

* Factors that influence children's food choices
* Changing Your Family's Eating Habits

Related article from "A learner's diary":

* Healthy eating for your child

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Tox Town"- educating us about environment health concerns


"Tux Town"is an interactive guide to commonly encountered toxic substances, your health, and the environment. It helps users explore a Port, Town, City, Farm, to identify common environmental hazards.

Information on chemical and environmental concerns is from the TOXNET and MedlinePlus resources of the National Library of Medicine

Tox Town is designed to give you information on:

- everyday locations where you might find toxic chemicals
- non-technical descriptions of chemicals
- links to selected, authoritative chemical information on the Internet
- how the environment can impact human health
- Internet resources on environmental health topics

Tox Town uses color, graphics, sounds and animation to add interest to learning about connections between chemicals, the environment, and the public's health. Tox Town's target audience is students above elementary-school level, educators, and the general public.

For Teachers:

* Environmental Health Education

Tox Town and other National Library of Medicine resources can help with student-friendly information on human health and the environment, plus pollution and toxic chemicals.
Students can learn about their school's indoor air quality and environment, toxic chemicals in homes and communities, and the impact of the environment on the quality of drinking water or outdoor air.

Raising Environmental Health Awareness

Print and photocopy one or more of the location scenes on the clip artpage and pass to students.
Ask students to circle the places on the scene where they might encounter environmental health concerns and give examples of what they think they might find. List specific risks that those problem areas might pose, for example the river might be polluted, the school chem lab might store toxic chemicals or trucks may be spewing exhaust.
Then give the students time to explore Tox Town. Students can compare the concerns circled on paper with those they find illustrated in Tox Town.

Ask students to choose one environmental health concern from the scene and write 2-3 paragraphs about the possible effects of that concern on people's health.

-For higher level thinking, students can predict what risks might exist in their own community (that match the scene) and where. Students could also check local government resources, newspapers, and environmental groups to learn about and verify local concerns.

- Classroom Activities and Discussion Questions

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Kids would love to search this health and food related site


This site is health related, but it is so colourful and interactive that kids would love to browse it.

Kids home page is from FDA (U.S Food and Drug Adminitration) and have food safety and other health related stuff for kids.

* Link to other kids sites
* parents corner provides a lot of helping health related posts/links.

*News page would be informative for parents and kids.

For example: A news about "Apple Cider Safety"
Apple cider is a fun and delicious drink. It tastes almost like apple juice, but a little stronger and the color is a little darker. You can buy it mostly in the fall at the store and when you go to the pumpkin patch and fall fairs.

But some apple cider may not be safe to drink, especially for kids. If it hasn’t been pasteurized (a type of heating) or treated in another way to kill germs, it might make you sick. Be sure to ask your parents or teachers before drinking any apple cider to be sure it’s safe

* Another page from FDA: For Kids, Teens, & Educators

- An Activity Book for You to Color: Food Safety at Home, School and When Eating Out

* At another site, read about 10 of the best and worst foods for children: 10 of the Worst/best Children's Foods
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