Attention Deficit to Attention Abundance

  • Written by Maren Schmidt, M.Ed.

Nine million prescriptions were written last year in the United States for school- aged children for attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). In 1975 roughly 150,000 children were taking Ritalin. In 2003, the latest figures available, about 6 million American children took Ritalin.

Drugging children to get them to behave seems to be the trend. What we have learned in the past 10 years with information from FMRI’s (functional magnetic resonance imaging) of children’s brains is how rapidly the brain is changing and developing.  Neurologists call this brain development  “brain plasticity.”

Children are learning how to concentrate and neural pathways are being created in the brain structure for concentration. We need to ask: Are we using drugs to change behavior or our children’s brains? Surely there is a better way.

A study using FMRI’S on monks’ brains showed that during meditation the monks’ brains changed dramatically, suggesting that mental training changes the structure of the brain.

Dr. David Stein, author of Ritalin is Not the Answer and father of two sons diagnosed with ADHD, says that our children have learned to be inattentive instead of learning to pay attention. Children with ADHD haven’t been shown how or when to pay attention. Stein lists these behaviors that parents and teachers associated with ADHD:

Active Manipulations: Not doing as told (non-compliance), defying commands (oppositionalism) and temper tantrums.

Verbal Manipulations: Poor-me statements, negative statements, nagging, interrupting, physical complaints (saying they are ill or hurt when in fact they are not).

Inattention Behaviors: Not paying attention, helplessness and dependency, dawdling, poor reading skills, poor school performance.

Other Common Misbehaviors: Tattling, fighting with siblings, aggression, lying.

With his caregivers skills program, Stein recommends visiting with the child and going over this list, saying something like:  “My job is to help you learn how to pay attention. Here are some behaviors that show me you are not paying attention.  When I see you doing one of these things, I’m going to ask you to go to a chair and sit for 10 minutes.  Then I will come and ask you why I sent you to the chair.  If you can’t tell me, I’ll ask you sit for another 10 minutes or until you can tell me.”

“The chair” is a place where the child is safe and comfortable (Stein recommends an upholstered chair), but cannot see, hear or do anything distracting — no TV, radio, music. No window to gaze out of. No books or toys.  And no talking.  Just the chair, the child and his or her thoughts for 10 minutes.

An example:  We’ve asked Tommy to get his pajamas on.  He makes no effort to do so.  We give no second reminders.  We simply say, “Tommy, please go to the chair.”

Tommy starts to cry. “But Mommy, what did I do?  I don’t want to go to the chair.”

Kindly and silently, we walk Tommy to the chair, then say, ‘Ten minutes.”

If Tommy talks or gets out of the chair, we add another 10 minutes to his chair time for each infraction.

After 10 minutes, we return to the chair and ask, “Why did I send you to the chair?”

Tommy should say something like this: “Because you asked me to get my pajamas on and I didn’t turn off the TV and I started watching another show.”

If Tommy says, “I don’t know,” we kindly say, “Ten more minutes.”

I have used Dr. Stein’s program successfully with five to nine year olds. My experience is that a child will do a 20- or 30-minute session in the chair only once. For children under age five, five minutes instead of 10 may be appropriate.

Dr. Stein’s technique trains a child to think and pay attention. Those 10 minutes in the chair are spent creating mental pathways for concentration. With Dr. Stein’s program, as the adults in charge, we can unemotionally direct the child to appropriate behavior.  No raising our voice.  No saying, “How many times do I have to tell you?”  We make requests once.

Dr. Stein makes recommendations for situations requiring stronger measures.  If a child continues to be disruptive, consult a pediatrician or family counselor for guidance in establishing effective training techniques.

Let’s teach our children to pay attention, instead of paying for drugs.  Let’s use brain plasticity to help our children learn to attend and to “be here now.”

Kids Talk TM deals with childhood development issues. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit  Copyright 2011.


  • Written by Jeffrey D. Woolley, Head of School
The concept of respect is so fundamental to Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy as to comprise the only proper stance of one human being toward another. In his Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals (1785), Kant writes, “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or the person of any other, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end.” Treating people respectfully, then, for Kant, is to treat them as ends in themselves and therefore humanely, acknowledging their free and rational natures. At a basic level, student respect demonstrates an awareness of the fundamental differences making us all unique. Respect at Dartmoor builds on this awareness beginning with the enrollment meeting, wherein students have a chance to articulate their educational experience, their triumphs, and their frustrations. This stance of respect continues throughout a student’s attendance at Dartmoor. All of our students have individualized programs that, while referencing general standards, remain relevant to specific learners, all of whom we consider to be sui generis.

These programs originate from a battery of internal assessments as well as professional evaluations, and the anecdotal information shared by students and parents. Another key to showing student respect resides in the fact that we place all students at instructional level rather than grade level: sometimes these are the same, but when a discrepancy exists, we modify programs to fit our students and not vice versa. This means a 10th grader who reads at a 7th grade reading level begins with 7th grade reading skills and builds from there, and a 7th grader who reads at a 10th grade level starts with 10th grade materials.

As a student progresses, Dartmoor staff ensure the program evolves organically to accommodate the student’s growth and changing needs.This simultaneously guarantees student engagement and demonstrates respect for the learner. For most students, Dartmoor’s approach represents a volte face from their former academic experiences in which the inertia toward conformity dominates with its apparatus of authority and attending rewards and punishments. The Dartmoorian educational experience rather is one of liberation, reengagement, and rediscovery in which students revive their innate passion for learning. Respect is the seed of transformation here, and, for all of us at Dartmoor, helping students realize their potential more fully is both compelling and rewarding work.

Bumper Pumpkin Crop

  • Written by Remlinger Farms

PumpkinAdPic2011_003Ever seen a perfect pumpkin? Is it the color, or the spherical shape, or the weight that we use to determine worthiness in our holiday décor? Well, according to local farmers this may be the year to go out and seek this wonderful member of the squash family.  We managed to catch Diane Hart (formerly Diane Remlinger and a third generation farmer in the Snoqualmie Valley) for a quick pumpkin update.

“The Remlinger family is thrilled with this year’s crop.  Perfect complexion, vivid orange coloring, fantastic shapes and durable skin.  What more can you ask for in a pumpkin?” This is a great outcome for the Remlinger Farm family as they, along with nearly every other Western Washington farm, have experienced a late harvest of nearly every berry and veggie crop this year. Remlingers actually plants every year in two of three patches (leaving the third to rest) to up the chances of “pumpkin” success and boy did it pay off this year. So put on those boots, load the kids up and visit the popular Remlinger Farms for pumpkins and a host of Fall Harvest activities (every weekend in October).

DiStefano Winery gives Woodinville a dining option

  • Written by Deborah Stone
DiStefano Winery is offering casual meals and family style culinary dinners. Courtesy photo.
Wineries are known for their wines, but at DiStefano Winery, food also takes prominence.

This summer, the longtime local winery entered the dining arena, offering casual meals and family style culinary dinners. Although the winery had been doing special events for a number of years, outside caterers had always provided the food.

“It was as a direct response to these events that we decided to build a kitchen and expand our dining area, which we call the Cellar Room,” explains Jaci Kajfas, DiStefano’s event coordinator. “Now, we can seat 40 people for an intimate sit-down dinner in the Cellar Room, as well as offer casual food options in our tasting room or out on our deck when the weather is nice.”

During regular hours in the tasting room, the emphasis is on bistro style, with offerings that include small artisan plates consisting of local cheeses, charcuterie, house marinated olives, fig jam, bruschetta and Macrina baguettes, along with Muffuletta or New Orleans style sandwiches and assorted salads.

Delectable dinners, “culinary delights that tantalize the imagination,” as DiStefano owner Mark Newton describes them, take center stage in the Cellar Room on various weekend evenings.

They feature fresh local cuisine accompanied by the winery’s high quality, award-winning wines.

An open kitchen design allows diners the ability to watch Executive Chef George Stevenson in action, as he whips up such specialties as hazelnut crusted hanger steak with potato-leek gratin Brussels sprouts or Coq au Vin, traditional French Chicken and red wine stew. “The dinners are usually built around themes,” says Kajfas. “Chef Stevenson has a great background in a variety of cuisines. He’s very talented and creative and we’re fortunate to have him heading up our kitchen.”

Stevenson is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute and The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

He grew up in the South, as well as spent time in Belgium and Germany, giving him an international upbringing which has greatly influenced his culinary style.

Stevenson sharpened his skills working in award-winning restaurants, including Fuller’s in Seattle and The Sunset Grill in Nashville. He also served as chef for Lowell-Hunt Catering and banquet chef of Willows Lodge in Woodinville.

Some of the events Chef Stevenson does at DiStefano Winery focus on culinary demonstrations. An upcoming session is all about Spanish Tapas.

Another one emphasizes cooking with wine.

In the past, he has also taught knife skills to guests, instructing them on the different types of knives, how to select the right one and the proper way to use a knife in the deboning process.

Once a quarter, the winery holds cigar dinners, which include a five course dinner where each course is paired with a cigar and wine.

“These usually sell out,” comments Kajfas. “They’ve gotten to be very popular, and yes, with women as well as men.”

The response to the added component of food at the winery has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Kajfas.

She notes that people appreciate having fresh and tasty food options available while they sample and taste the wines.

“It’s just a nice addition and something that not many wineries offer, mainly because they don’t have a kitchen,” she adds.

DiStefano plans to continue to slowly grow the food side of the business and do more catering and special event dinners in the future.

“We’re thrilled that our special events have been so well-received,” says Kajfas. “We’ve done minimal marketing, so it’s really been a lot of word-of-mouth among people who know the winery. They come to one and then tell their friends and the interest just builds. It’s an exciting time for us.”

For more information about DiStefano Winery’s upcoming special event dinners, private events and catering services: (425) 487-1648 or


  • Written by Submitted by Best in Class

According to the Department of Health and Human Services: The early years of a child’s life are crucial for cognitive, social and emotional development, therefore it is important that every step is necessary to ensure that children grow up in environments where their social, emotional and educational needs are met.

Many advocates of pre-school state that sending your child to an early education program, such as pre-school, can help with how they view and act in the social structure. The early introduction of education can influence and perhaps improve children’s cognitive and social growth.

Early education programs in Washington state, such as Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), offer free services to help children build their learning and social environment. These programs provide educational, health, nutritional and parent involvement services to low income families and children.

For example, Head Start offers children early academic enrichment in subjects such as: pre-reading, literacy, vocabulary, and pre-mathematics skills. Students, many of them 4 years old or younger, are also provided nutritious meals throughout the day. Furthermore, Head Start focuses on the well-being of the family by offering a wide array of social services, such as free health, physical and dental screenings.

A benefit to early education is giving children a chance to develop their personalities and nurture their behavioral growth, so they can become more independent.

Additionally, sending your children to these types of programs gives kindergarten teachers more leeway to teach students about school work rather than spending half the day teaching them about behavioral skills.

There is also a negative side to the field of early education programs. Some adversaries of early education programs argue that children can lose their concentration skills to focus on one activity because programs may bombard children with too many different simultaneous activities.

This type of bombardment can overwhelm the young mind because they are being read books that they may not fully comprehend or learning words that just don’t seem to make any sense to them. These frustrations can cause young children to become introverted or unfocused.

In any case, it is important to be involved with your child’s curriculum; doing so will help you create a stronger bond emotionally and academically with your child.