Archive for February, 2012

Seeing Red?

Jack & Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of …Red #40?
by JAK’s guest mom blogger from Pleasant Prairie, Bonnie Hahn

For the past two months or so, every time I scold my son, make an unwelcomed suggestion (clean your room?) or…speak pretty much anything out loud or breathe, he asks ‘Who crapped in your cornflakes?’. Talk about beating a dead horse! AND…I don’t even like cornflakes.

I’ve been spending some time at my kid’s school helping out in classes, shortly after school starts in the morning. I’ve noticed a lot of ‘behavior’ that is puzzling to me. Given that these are 6-10 year old children I’m dealing with, expecting perfection is certainly unreasonable. Though, I find myself expecting much more than I am seeing…Read More…

I know there are a lot of legitimate cases of ADD/ADHD, but I also know that there are a lot more that could be helped by simple dietary changes and eliminating certain things from the home environment. As I was sitting there with a couple of kids, I started thinking…I wonder what these kids had  for breakfast today…?  I wonder how many of these kids eat crap at home…? How many had Fruit Loops, Pop-Tarts, or something equally artificial and disgusting for breakfast…? How many brought a Lunchable today (or everyday!), or drink Hi-C or Capri Sun or some other ‘juice’?

Is someone crapping in their cornflakes?

Just to clarify:
 ADD: A term given to the condition of children, teenagers or adults when they show poor attention, impulsiveness or unexplained emotional outbursts in normal day to day activities.

ADHD: A term used to describe children, teenagers or adults who have low attention span, exhibit high levels of distractability, are chronically disorganized and are in “perpetual motion”.

According to one source, the average attention span of a child age 6-8 is 1-20 minutes, and age 9-12 is 30-45 minutes. Now, I am 37 years old and I doubt that I have a 30-45 minute attention span. A more reasonable source says to add 2 minutes to a child’s age, and start there.

Taking the above into consideration:  3 to 10% of school aged children get diagnosed as ADHD every year.  That’s a ton of kids! Most of them go on to be treated with drugs that have both minor and serious side effects, like loss of appetite, insomnia, mood swings, suicidal thoughts and psychotic behavior. Neither of my children have ADD or ADHD, so I haven’t been in that position, but just thinking about what could possibly happen is frightening.  I, as a parent, would certainly try everything in my power in order to avoid something that would cause these side effects, and if doing something as simple as dietary changes and natural cleaning products could significantly change my child’s need for drugs, you better believe I would be ON IT.

Traits commonly observed with ADD/ADHD:

Inattention: easily distracted, can’t complete tasks, does not listen.

Impulsivity: acts without thinking, does not wait his turn, goes from activity to activity without organizing or completing anything.

Hyperactivity: can’t sit still, fidgety, bothers others, always on the go – “perpetual motion”.

Emotionally Unstable: social loner, angry outbursts for no reason, often involved in conflicts or fights, poor response to discipline.

A lot of people may not realize how significant of an impact that food ingredients and chemical exposure have on so many aspects of our lives! Food allergies don’t just cause hives or rashes, but can cause behaviors that may fall under the heading of ADD/ADHD, as can exposure to things like bleach or ammonia. An average child consumes over 10 pounds of food additives per year. TEN POUNDS! Of toxins, chemicals, artificial ingredients and colors, preservatives and who knows what else. Crap. Garbage. Disgust-o-rama!

Here are some of the conditions that have possible links just to food dyes in particular:

-Cancer, including brain tumors
-Asthma and allergies
-Behavior problems, ADD, ADHD
-Decreased cognitive function and lowered IQ

How many products do you have in your home, that your children consume, that include food dyes?
I bet it’s more than you think.

There have been studies upon studies done about this…I’m not just some radical fruitcake treehugger making stuff up. One recent study by the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics analyzed 15 other studies of the effect of artificial food colors and preservatives on hyperactivity, and found that 28% of the children (who had previously been diagnosed as ADHD) tested had increased hyperactivity after consuming artificial colors and preservatives.  And that’s just testing for those two items, not any of the other usual suspects.  Another study took children who had NOT been diagnosed with anything and removed artificial colors and preservatives from their diets for 8 weeks.  At the end of the 8 weeks, the children were given a juice beverage containing some combination of food colorings and sodium benzoate (a preservative). The results were clear in that the amount of artificial food colors and preservatives found in a typical child’s diet is enough to trigger hyperactivity in many of those children.

Studies have also been done regarding chemical exposure. Typical household cleaning products contain a plethora of dangerous chemicals.  But…they sell them at the grocery store, they must be safe, right?!  NO. Chemical companies don’t care if they are making you sick. They get away with it legally for many reasons that would take me another whole blog to tell you about.

Here are some of the conditions that have possible links just to bleach and ammonia:
-Cancer, neurological disorders, weakened immune system, autoimmune disorders
-Asthma and allergies
-Infertility and miscarriage
-Behavior problems, ADD, ADHD, mental retardation
-Decreased cognitive function and lowered IQ
-Alteration of hormones, endocrine disruption

How many cleaning products do you have in your home that include bleach or ammonia, not to mention the hundreds of other toxic chemicals?!
Again, I bet it’s more than you think!

If your child shows signs of ADD/ADHD, there are a number of areas to address:

*Clearly, diet and nutrition: If you feed your kid sh*t, they’re gonna act like sh*t. Cut out the processed foods, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, even sugar-free/artificially sweetened items.  Have your child tested for food allergies, including gluten. Consider nutritional supplements, especially Omegas.

*In relation to food and diet; bowel health: Get a ton more fiber into their diet, and definitely add a probiotic.

*Remove toxins from the home. Replace your cleaners with non-toxic choices. Choose better laundry detergents and fabric softeners. You and your children could be wearing chemical residue-laden clothing all day and sleeping in it (think about your sheets!) at night. You are absorbing chemicals into your skin.

*Consider an air purifier.

*See if hypoglycemia is an issue.

*Eye and ear disorders and psychological wellness can also be investigated.

Naturally, these solutions won’t pertain to everyone. It’s not going to be quite so simple for every child who has been diagnosed as ADD or ADHD to be ‘fixed’ by what I’ve discussed above, but how many does it pertain to?
I’m willing to bet…it’s more than you think.

There is help beyond drugs.  A lot of doctors would have you believe that pharmaceuticals are the only option, but that is not the case at all. Nutrition, diet and environment should be examined and appropriate changes made before resorting to drugs whenever possible, especially if those three steps solve or relieve the problem. If a pharmaceutical is necessary, then it should be used in conjunction with other, natural solutions. Could you imagine finding out that you had been drugging your child for a perceived problem, only to find out that their breakfast cereal (among other things) was causing the problem?!  Drug your child, so they can eat junk? I think not.

I have heard many people say they don’t care about food additives or ingredients, or whether they use chemicals in their homes.  I have seen a mom hand a kid a pill, then give them a can of soda and chips. What?! Noooooo!  It’s easy to make better choices!

Come on, we know better than this. We can do better than this. Make healthy changes! Quit buying crappy cornflakes! Start caring about what goes into and onto your body and what you bring into your home! Your children (and their teachers!) will thank you!

Bonnie is a stay-at-home mom of two kids, ages 6 & 10, with a Shaklee health and wellness business. She focuses on teaching her family how to eat right, why exercise is important, about recycling and composting, and why we should take care of our environment. They don’t usually take her seriously. She is also married, and she states “He doesn’t listen to me, either. HA!”

Read more of Bonnie’s blogs at http://adventuresingreenness.blogspot.com/

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There’s No Place Like Home

Getting Educated on Education, part 3

“Being a native of Denmark, we wanted the freedom to travel back to my native land.”

“We homeschool because you just cannot beat the class sizes or the chance to teach kids the morals and values your family feels are important.”

Another parent chose to homeschool her child with autism.  She statesSchool staff is not properly trained to work with kids with Autism. They viewed his behaviors as ‘bad’. They taught him like he was stupid or a baby, many MANY levels below what he is capably of, I know, because I use age appropriate work”. Read More…

Finally, another mother’s take on why she choose to homeschool: “I firmly believe that the Lord is very serious when He says that parents are to ‘train up a child…’  The secular world is very different from that which the Lord wants us to be a part of. Within the schools our children are attacked on all fronts- confronted with gangs, bullies, liberal agendas, risking indoctrination, poor educational standards and a lack of good information and solid moral grounds.  As a Christian mother I take very seriously the commandments of the Lord – that being said I feel my children need to know Him and be in a place where He and His word are within all that is taught.

Reasons for homeschooling and curriculums used are as unique as each child is and it’s popularity has grown tremendously in the last decade, as described by a homeschooling mom of a 15 year old.  She chimes “It used to be if we were out and about during a normal school day, people would look at us strangely or inquire ‘is school out today?’ “ That’s not so much the case these days.  Keeping in mind the many personal reasons family choose homeschooling, another reason is that our state happens to make it easy on families who choose this route.

There are few laws the govern home-based educational programs, including pretty lenient direction (really no direction) as to curricula. Though the state requires least 875 hours of instruction each school year, those hours don’t need to be verified.  Home-based private educational programs are not monitored either.  One thing homeschoolers must do is to report that fact that they are homeschooling each school year that that choose to do so.  This can be done easily online.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction does provide a lot of information, including a link to home-based parent associations you may wish to contact for further information about home-schooling.  Here is a great place to start when considering homeschooling: Wisconsin DPI.

When it comes to educating your child(ren), we parents have so many choices.  It’s just having the knowledge that you do have options, finding out what those options are, investigating/info gathering on those options that interest you/are a good fit, make the decision, and sign up!

Do your homework!


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Do Your Homework

Getting Educated on Education, part 2

Needing to take my own advice as I post this week’s commentary, a follow up to last week’s “Pro Choice: Getting Educated on Education”.  Wheeow, so many options, so little time.

My regrets to those with wee little ones who (dare I say, luckily) you don’t have the task of scouting out high schools, something in my day, there wasn’t much of a choice to make.  You just went to your local public high school, though we did have either the all-girl or all-boy Catholic high schools as options.  My have the times changed, eh?  Brace yourselves, young mamas! Read more…

When I mentioned earlier/in the title, to do your homework, you’ll see that JAK here, needed “to get an extension” or rather, should have/could have broached the subject several weeks back (live and learn).  With that said, if you are a parent looking for a high school for your student for the 2012-13 school year, you’re not too late, though some of the early bird registrations for tuition-based schools may have passed and events such as Freshman Orientation meetings perhaps have taken place.  Additionally, with the extension of open enrollment from 3 weeks (originally slated for February 6th-26th) to 3 months (deadline now is April 30th), it gives you more time now to scout out your options.

So in our area (JAK’s area of interest is Racine and Kenosha Counties), here are your brick and mortar choices:

Kenosha Unified School District Public High Schools: Bradford High School (traditional), Indian Trail High School (traditional)/Indian Trail Academy (magnet), Reuther Central High School (traditional), Tremper High School (traditional), Hillcrest School (alternative), LakeView Technology Academy and Kenosha eSchool (virtual) .

Racine Unified School District Public High Schools: Case High School (traditional), Horlick High School (traditional), Park High School (traditional), REAL School (charter), Walden III (magnet), Keith R. Mack (alternative) and Racine Virtual Learning (virtual).

Public high schools located in the western part of the counties:  Westosha Central High School in Salem, Wilmot Union High School, Union Grove High School, Burlington High School, and Waterford Union High School.

Remember, with the open enrollment option, you may apply for your child(ren) to attend school districts other than the one in which you reside.

Here are some of your private high school options: Christian Life School, St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy, Shoreland Lutheran High School, Lutheran High School, St. Catherine’s High School, The Prairie School, Catholic Central High School, and Union Grove Christian School.

In last week’s blog I gave a link for virtual schools.  <<There you go, again!

While it may seem and it can be a daunting task to find the right fit for your child, think about how lucky our kids are to have choices. You may not find the need to look elsewhere than your neighborhood public high school.  Or perhaps, you breakout completely from tradition and consider homeschooling, which isn’t that uncommon anymore and the subject of next week’s JAK Chat.  So come on back, you may learn something new and might be the right fit for you (and yours).

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Pro Choice?

Getting Educated on Education, part 1

‘Tis the season for school open houses, tour schedules, testing and registration.  While a handful of schools began as early as October with their recruiting, typically the annual Catholic School’s Week (which is this week) celebration marks the beginning of what can be a couple months, and for some, years, of parents shoppin’ around for the best fit for their kid(s).

As a parent, how easy is it to make sense of all of this?  How early do you start?  Where do you start? What deadlines, if any, are looming? Virtual school, home school,  or brick and mortar?  Did our parents have all of these choices when we were kids.  For sure…no. Read more

The landscape of education options has changed dramatically, even within the last 48 hours.  Yesterday, Wednesday, Governor Scott Walker extended our Wisconsin school’s open enrollment period.  Previously, open enrollment ran for three weeks.  With this extension, parents now will now have three months to submit (up to 3) applications to a public school that is outside of their home district.  Open enrollment starts on Monday, February 6th and closes on April 30th.  Here is a link for you to learn more about Public School Open Enrollment.

More changes we’ve experienced, specific to the Racine Unified School District is the introduction of the voucher program, also known as the Racine Parental Choice Program. This pilot program, which went into effect as the school year wrapped up last June,  allows qualifying students in the Racine Unified School District to receive a scholarship to attend a participating private school.  This first year, the program had an enrollment cap of 250 students.  Five hundred students will be allowed to participate in the 2012-13 school year, and there will be no enrollment cap in succeeding years.  According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s website, there were 212.8 full-time equivalent or FTE students (a 4 year-old kindergarten student may be counted as 0.5 FTE or 0.6 FTE) participating as of November at eight Racine area participating schools.

For more information on Racine Parental Choice Program; including participating schools, eligibility, and frequently asked questions, please click the following link: http://www.chooseyourschoolwi.org/racine-parental-choice-program-parent-information.html

Don’t delay, according to the Choose Your School Wisconsin website, this enrollment period is in full-swing and the application deadline is February 20th.  I will keep my eyes open for extensions on this.  More information will be available at an Open House schedule for Saturday, February 11th from 9am-2pm at The DeKoven Center (Great Hall) – 600 21st Street in Racine.

So we’ve covered, Public School Open Enrollment and the Racine Parental Choice (aka voucher) Program.  There are also so many on-line school options, that seem to be ever changing.  In addition to private virtual schools, did you know that our area public schools also offer on-line versions?  Attached is a list of 2012-13 virtual charter schools to check out, whose application time-frames fall under the open enrollment period.  As mentioned, our two major school districts, Kenosha Unified School District and Racine Unified School District offer eSchools as an enrollment option for high schoolers (middle school options are available via KUSD, may be available at RUSD) as a full or part-time student.  Here are the links respectively http://eschool.kusd.edu/ and http://moodle.rusd.org/

More options to choose from are the area’s brick and mortar charter schools and Racine Unified‘s magnet schools, namely Brompton School-Kenosha, Dimensions of Learning Academy-Kenosha, Harborside Academy-Kenosha, Kenosha School of Technology Enhanced CurriculumPaideia Charter School Academy-Kenosha, McKinley Middle Charter School-Racine, REAL School-Racine, Bull Fine Arts Elementary-Racine, Jefferson Lighthouse-Racine, Red Apple Elementary-Racine,Walden III Middle & High School.  Check our website’s calendar for OPEN HOUSES that will highlight these schools along with the area’s private school’s open house events.

Then finally, for those with kids just starting their journey into school, here is the lowdown on our larger district’s kindergarten registration:

  • Kenosha Unified School District, although not yet official announced (confirmed), typically holds kindergarten registration during parent teacher conference days, which are Wednesday, February 29th through Friday, March 2nd. Please call the school your child will attend for specific registration times. For school attendance area information, you should call (262)359-6391

For information on Racine and Kenosha County’s smaller school districts, please search via this link: http://dpi.wi.gov/schlsrch3.aspx

In weeks to come, we’ll hit the high school’s and also chat about homeschooling.  If you have anything to add to the conversation, please choose to contact Just Add Kids by submitting a comment, sending an email to contact@justaddkidsonline.net, or via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

As peeps are looking at schools for their kiddos for 2012-2013…anyone wanna give a shout out for their school here?

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