28 Aug Back To School Special – 3 Danger Zones for Our Kids
I don’t know about you, but when I was young, I loved the start of the new school year. Everything was new again. A clean slate. A new notebook, new textbooks, new locker. Sure there were some nerves, but mostly excitement to see all of my friends again and take new classes.
For kids today, I’m sure many feel the same way, but I worry for our kids and their physical well being at school, and at home. Let me explain.
If you are a parent, you’ll know what I mean, and I you are not yet a parent or don’t have kids, just look around at school kids these days. You’ll notice that many of them have something in common. HUGE backpacks! They are filled with textbooks, notebooks, often a laptop or tablet, water bottle, pens and pencils, maybe a pair of sneakers and even lunch. If we think we have it bad with our laptop bags, (see post on this very topic), kids have it way worse. Not only are their backpacks that are as large as they are, there’s also electronics that have made its way into the classroom.
Trust me, I am all for technology in education. And if textbooks can all be accessed with aKindle, iPad or other tablet, I’ll be the first to say Hallelujah! If kids learn to type in elementary school, (although most are typing and texting soon after birth these days!), that is fabulous. And if studies show that technology can enhance and accelerate the learning process, then bring it on! But what seems to be missing is fundamental safety and ergo training in the classroom so that everyday things such as backpacks, laptops, mobile devices and even gaming devices don’t hurt our kids. Because as it stands, thousands of kids are getting injured each year and entering into the workplace injured after college.
So, here are some basic guidelines for kids whether they are pre-schoolers or college students.
- Choose a backpack with padded straps and encourage your child to wear both straps vs. slinging the heavy pack on one shoulder. Waist belts are helpful too.
- If the school allows it (some don’t), choose a backpack that can convert to a carrying case on wheels.
- Make sure your child doesn’t wear their backpack too low as this can fatigue the lower back in a hurry. Shorten the straps so that the backpack rests against the mid or upper back.
- See if two sets of textbooks can be purchased. One set can be kept at school and the other at home. If not, encourage the use of lockers and/or just bring the textbooks needed for class on a particular day.
- Just like us adults need a good work set up in order to be productive and pain free, so does your child. (Despite what they say!) This applies whether your child is in pre-school or in college. So, set your child up with a chair and desk that fits them. If your family shares a computer area, make sure everything is adjustable so that your child can enjoy good ergonomics too.
- Most young children can’t sit comfortably in an adult-sized desk chair. If you can’t get a child size desk and chair, then make sure the chair they are using is adjustable. Raise the seat pan and if needed put a backrest or pillow against the back of the chair to shorten the seat pan. A foot rest is perfect for dangling feet.
- If an external keyboard, mouse and monitor are used, consider purchasing a mini keyboard and a travel mouse. Their smaller size will be much more use friendly to a child’s hand size.
- If your child is using a laptop, then invest in a laptop riser, external mouse and keyboard.
- For smart phones, get your child in the habit of using a headset or earbuds when talking.
- Teach them to vary their texting fingers. Most kids text with their thumbs only which can strain the thumbs and wrists. It’s easy to hold the phone in one hand and text with the other. Voice command is a great solution too.
- iPads, Tablets and Kindles are great, but can take a toll on their neck. If they use it for reading or internet use, invest in a cover that doubles as a tablet stand, or get a tablet stand. If they type a lot on their tablet, then get an external keyboard along with the tablet stand.
Vivienne Fleischer-Miller, PBE Co-Founder
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