28 Apr Ergo Tips for Your Children While They Home School
With nearly 55 million children homeschooling due to COVID-19, and reports of this continuing for some time, children are spending more time on the computer, tablets and phones to get their work done. Creating a work area for your child that comfortable and ergonomically sound is the key to setting them up to be able to concentrate, be productive and avoid any aches and pains now and in the future.
Here are our top 10 Ergo Tips for Your Child
1. Create a Dedicated Work-Study Space – It is crucial to create a dedicated space for your child to take their online lessons and do their homework and study. This is especially challenging during COVID-19, where your entire family is at home and you, yourself may be struggling to find a spot to claim for your work. Even if it is in the corner of a room, a card table that you haul out of the closet, create a designated place for your child to do their work.
2. Navigating Shared WorkSpaces – If your child is sharing their workspace with other members of your household, make sure to set a schedule, so everyone knows when it is their turn to work in the space. It is also very important to take into account that each person using the workspace may be a different age and size, and plan accordingly.
3. Desk Size and Height – If your child is small, it is best if you can set them up with a child-size desk that is appropriate for their age and height. (See below for tips to determine the right height for the desk) If your budget allows, getting a height-adjustable desk is best so that you can adjust the height of the desk as they grow. This is also very helpful if your child is sharing a desk with other household members.
4. Sitting (& Standing) – Healthy posture is a key factor in the ergo equation. It is best to get a chair that is the appropriate height for your child. This includes a chair that allows their feet to be on the floor and provides support for their back. If your child is using an adult size chair, at and adult size desk, you can use pillows for back support and as a way to “shrink” the chair. If their feet are dangling, you can easily provide support placing a box, books or a stepstool under their feet.
If your child likes to stand while they work, then make sure to provide an anti-fatigue mat to stand on and remind them to alternate between sitting and standing.
And whether they are sitting or standing, encourage them to sit and stand with a healthy, upright posture when doing computer work.
5. Laptops & Tablets – In general, laptops pose ergonomic challenges due to the fact that the screen height is not adjustable. Depending on your child’s size, using a laptop on the desktop may not be an issue if the screen is large and not too far below eye level. But the best set up is to prop the laptop on a laptop riser (or books, box etc.) or plug it into an external monitor. In addition, if the laptop is raised or an external monitor is used, it is important to also use an external keyboard and mouse.
If a tablet is used, then it is best to prop up the tablet and use with an external keyboard.
Last but not least, if your child uses their laptop or tablet on the couch or in bed, using a lap desk (homemade or store-bought) will help them sit in a healthy position.
6. Keyboard and Mouse – It is best to place your child’s keyboard directly in front of them and at or slightly below their elbow height. Their upper arm should be able to hang vertically so that their elbows fall directly under their shoulders with their elbows close to their sides. The mouse should be level with their keyboard and withing close reach. If you see their arms stretched out to type or mouse, help them bring their keyboard and mouse closer to them.
Your child will fare best if their keyboard and mouse fit their hands. Mini keyboards with either a detachable 10-key pad or no 10 keypad at all will likely fit them better since they are smaller and allow for the mouse to be in front of the shoulder and minimize the need to reach.
7. Monitors – Whether your child is using their laptop screen, tablet or an external monitor, it is best to have the screen propped up and positioned directly in front of them, about an arm’s distance away and slightly below eye level. This can be accomplished by raising the screen height with a monitor or laptop risers or placing the screen on books, a box, a small crate or whatever else is flat and stable.
8. Headphones – If your child is using headphones while they take their online lessons, watch videos or listen to music, it’s best for their developing ears to use over the ear headphones (vs. earbuds), preferably with noise-canceling features. Teach them how to check in on their volume levels and strive to have them set at 60% volume or lower.
9. Lighting – If possible, set your child’s work area up near a window for natural light, but perpendicular to your windows to avoid glare on their screens. If there’s not enough lighting in their workspace, a task lamp can be used to provide more light. If your child complains of eye strain, you can adjust the contrast levels on their screens and make sure they are clean.
10. Frequent Breaks – Encouraging your child to take regular breaks throughout their school day will go a long way at keeping them in tip-top shape, both physically and mentally.
Let us know how your child is doing in the comments below!