I’ve talked before about the problems that carrying heavy bags are causing children. And after I wrote the blog post, I spent the weekend trying to persuade my son to take a day’s worth of kit to school, rather than a week’s. The problem is that the sanctions that come with forgetting sports kit or books are worse, in a child’s mind than the possibility, long hence, of back pain.
But there are things that parents and teachers could do, which help take those damaging decisions out of the children’s’ hands:
1) Get them to use a backpack, not a sports bar – and use both shoulder straps. Using both shoulder straps might be less cool – might make them look like a language tourist – but it keeps the back straighter and so stronger.
2) See if the school can use ergonomic chairs. Not the cheap option obviously, and may need to be restricted to ICT or computer studies classes. But it will help.
3) Don’t let children sit on the floor, or use bean bags, to work or play on a laptop or games console. Make sure they use a chair. They won’t thank you for it at the time, but maybe they will later…
4) Make sure that when children are using a PC, they mimic the workplace and create for themselves a decent workstation. Good desk, good chair (ideally a proper office chair), and a computer screen set at eye level.
5) Consider only letting them use a desktop PC, in fact. A laptop tends to encourage poor posture – but if a laptop is the only real option, make sure they site correctly. Straight back and all that …
6) Don’t allow them to slob about in front of the TV, especially after a long session in front of a PC. Get them outside, get them doing sport, get them active.
7) If they develop back or neck pain – get them to a doctor, an osteopath or a chiropractor. These are tender years in a child’s physical development. Don’t let things drift.