New study says children?benefit from taking naps

Any parent knows that a daytime nap can help keep preschoolers from getting cranky. Now a small study suggests that it helps them learn, too.

The lesson for grown-ups: Don’t cut out the naps if you try to cram more learning activities into a preschooler’s day, say researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

They studied 40 children, ages 3 to 5. In the mornings of test days, the children were shown a grid with pictures of nine or 12 items like a cat or an umbrella. That afternoon and the next morning, the children were tested on how well they remembered the location of each image.

All the children were tested under two conditions, one in which they were encouraged to nap before the afternoon test, and another in which they were kept awake. Without a nap, they were about 65 percent accurate. With a nap, their accuracy reached about 75 percent.

The research shows that “naps are important for preschool children,” Rebecca Spencer, senior author of the study, said in a news release.

The study was published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

— Malcolm Ritter

Associated Press

Hints from Heloise:

Phone answerer offers?suggestions for callers

Ms. Douglas in Mississippi writes: I answer the phone for an agency that services the whole state. We receive 300-400 calls per day. The following are suggestions that would be so helpful for us when the public calls our office:

•?Have a pen/pencil by the phone, and paper to write on.

•?Have the information they need in their hand (e.g., name and extension number of the person they need to talk with, etc.).

•?Also, reduce noises in the room — TV, kids yelling, cellphone, etc.

Thank you so much. It would make our day so much brighter!

Heloise says: Thanks for your good insight! Hint from Heloise: Always have something to do (read a magazine, clean out a drawer, etc.) so you don’t “waste” time while on hold.

— King Features

Consumers should pay?attention to fall releases

This fall, are you looking for …

• An iPod or other MP3 player? Before the newest versions are released for the holidays, be sure to check out your big-box stores for some great discounts on older models. Keep an eye out for extra incentives, such as gift cards.

• A new lawn mower? Buy now when stores are about to clear space. Ask about display models — you can save money and the headache of putting it together. Just be sure to get the instruction manual and any accessories.

• New meals? Use produce currently in season, such as broccoli, lettuce, pumpkins, spinach, sweet potatoes, apples, cranberries, grapes and pomegranates.

• A new ride? Auto manufacturers are releasing new models, so dealers want to get rid of the older inventory. If having a 2013 model doesn’t bother you, you can get great financing and other incentives.

— Tara McAlister

The Charlotte Observer