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How to Supplement Classroom Learning at Home With Tech for Kids

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(StatePoint) When the school bell rings at the end of the day, the learning doesn’t need to stop. Some of the latest and greatest tech can get kids excited to expand their knowledge at home in ways that are fun, all while supporting and augmenting what happens in the classroom.

Here are some of the coolest tech-infused options to consider introducing to children this school year:

Screen Free Fun

LeapPods Max from LeapFrog are comfortable over-the-ear headphones designed to be safe for little ones’ ears while offering an immersive audio experience and a break from screen time. Beyond listening to music, hours of included activities spark a different kind of learning, taking kids on audio adventures, getting their mind and body moving with active challenges, introducing mindfulness activities and more. The included 14-page Adventure Passport guidebook that accompanies the audio adventures pairs engaging soundscapes and animal sounds with detailed illustrations. Play right away with no web connection, downloads or account setup required.

Jump-Start to Coding

Kids can explore the fundamentals of coding while having fun using apps like Cargo-Bot. Puzzles challenge them to teach a robot to move crates. Another great subscription-based option is Kodable. Offering an array of activities that familiarize kids with coding skills, along with opportunities to create original programs, this self-guided approach allows kids to master 21st century tech skills at their own pace.

Interactive Books

Explore exciting new ways to learn with the touch-and-talk pages of the LeapStart Learning Success Bundle. This interactive system includes activities such as games, puzzles and creative challenges to enhance learning and help kids build math, reading, problem-solving skills and more. It comes preloaded with the Go! Go! Cory Carson Superhero School book based on the popular animated series and an additional activity book, and can be expanded with the compatible LeapStart library of books (sold separately). Covering a variety of preschool through first grade subjects for 2-7-year-olds, each title features more than 30 re-playable activities, so kids can start at the right level and move up when they’re ready. For example, the LeapStart Level 1 Preschool 4 Pack features four popular books that focus on the alphabet, shapes and colors, math and baby animals.

Supplemental learning at home can provide kids with the tools they need to thrive in the classroom. Thankfully, new tech is making it fun, interactive and engaging.

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New School Year Tips From a Foot and Ankle Surgeon

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(StatePoint) Kids’ feet grow and change quickly, which means you’ll likely be shoe shopping this back-to-school season. As you head to the store, consider these tips and insights from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS).

• Find the right fit: “Your child’s feet can grow up to two sizes in six months, so you need to account for rapid growth when buying shoes,” says Dr. Michael Coyer, DPM, FACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon and Fellow Member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

Dr. Coyer cautions against the temptation to buy oversized shoes though, as they can cause the foot to slide forward, putting excessive pressure on the toes. “A good fit is about a finger’s width from the end of the shoe to the tip of the big toe,” he says.

On the other hand, don’t wait too long to replace tight shoes. Tight shoes can cause blisters, corns and calluses on toes, blisters on the back of the heels and ingrown nails, which can become infected. If you notice signs of infection such as pain, redness or fluid draining from the area, schedule an appointment with a foot and ankle surgeon, who can perform a simple, safe in-office procedure to remove the affected area of the nail.

• Replace worn-out shoes: Because shoes lose shock absorption over time, wearing worn-out shoes can elevate the risk for heel pain, Achilles tendonitis and even ankle sprains and stress fractures.

“Inspect old shoes and replace any that lack sufficient cushioning and arch support, or have excessive wear to the bottom or around the edges of the sole,” says Dr. Coyer. “When shopping, don’t assume a new pair will offer proper support. Check to see that the toe box is wide enough and the shoe doesn’t bend in the middle of the sole.”

• Protect young athletes: “Every new season, we see an increase in ankle injuries among young athletes,” says Dr. Coyer.

Help prevent sports-related injuries by equipping your child with proper footwear this fall. Start each sports season with new shoes and always buy the right shoe for the sport. You can also protect young athletes by never allowing them to play through foot pain. Foot pain isn’t normal and if it lasts for more than a few days and interferes with normal activities, seek medical attention.

• Consider other factors: Children with flat feet need shoes with a wide toe box, maximum arch support and shock absorption. The best shoes for flat feet are stiff-soled, lace-up shoes that have enough depth for an orthotic insert, if necessary.

“A common persisting myth is that children will ‘grow out of’ foot problems. But foot problems developed in childhood can become more serious if left unaddressed,” says Dr. Coyer. “One of the most important steps you can take to prevent pediatric foot issues is by taking time during the back-to-school season to buy footwear that fits well and offers good support. Further, having your child evaluated by a foot and ankle surgeon member of ACFAS at the first sign of trouble can help reduce the likelihood of worsening problems and help keep your child active.”

For more back-to-school tips, information on foot and ankle health, and to find a foot and ankle surgeon near you, visit FootHealthFacts.org, the patient education website for the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

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Photo Credit: (c) allensima / iStock via Getty Images Plus

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Study Shows Americans Aren’t Planning for Future Healthcare Needs

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(StatePoint) If you haven’t spent time considering what your healthcare needs will be in the years or even decades from now, you’re not alone.

Recent research suggests that many aging Americans aren’t aware of the full range of options available to them. As we age, our healthcare needs intensify, and experts say that the U.S. healthcare system will need to embrace home healthcare options to meet the demand of an aging population.

The new national survey, titled “Aging in Place: Assessing Senior’s Understanding of Home Healthcare Options,” conducted by Bredin on behalf of Cross Country Workforce Solutions Group, shows that while most people aged 50-79 years old would prefer at-home care as they age, 91% of respondents have not proactively researched the care they may need as they grow older. Further, 34% have not thought about their care needs, and awareness of existing managed-at-home care programs was low among the survey respondents.

“By living at home, seniors can maintain their independence and be close to their loved ones and community, and by and large, that is what they want to do. At-home care can both meet the needs of those requiring long-term care, while alleviating some of the mounting challenges faced by hospitals and healthcare systems,” says Pamela Jung, president of Cross Country Workforce Solutions Group, a division of Cross Country Healthcare, the nation’s leading provider of in-home clinical and non-clinical care for aging seniors.

As you explore your options, consider the following tips:

• Leave no stone unturned: From transportation to medical appointments to help with household tasks, consider what your potential needs might be and research programs in your community to address them. While there are assistance programs available to help seniors age with dignity, the Cross Country Workforce Solutions Group survey found that the majority of older Americans are unaware of an important one: Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), a national program of comprehensive care for adults age 55 and over who would prefer to remain living at home rather than in a nursing facility. In some communities, PACE is known as Living Independently for the Elderly (LIFE). These programs can make living at home a safer and more affordable option than institutionalized care.

“This program has provided me with the best caregiver. She is a great person with a great heart, and she goes above and beyond during my home care services,” says Luther Bell, PACE participant. “I feel like I have improved a lot in many ways because my caregiver meal preps for me, provides quality care, and our daily interactions bring positivity to my life.”

• Start a dialogue: Talk to your family and friends about your wishes and where you would like to receive care. Also, continue to have regular conversations with your doctors about your health.

• Consider your budget: While the average senior collects just $18,000 annually in social security, 57% of survey respondents have not considered the budget they will need for aged care services and support. Take time to learn how much various aspects of care will cost, factoring in standard living expenses.

For additional survey results and information about home healthcare, visit www.crosscountryhealthcare.com/aging-in-place.

“At a time when the burden on hospitals and health systems has at times compromised their ability to deliver quality care, living at home with support can provide optimized care and independence to seniors,” says Jung.

Photo Credit: (c) PeopleImages - iStock / Getty Images Plus