Ergonomics for our children

12 January 2021

Parents up and down the country are finding themselves trying to work from home as well as homeschooling their children. This is new to most adults – and to our children.

This situation is completely new to children, in terms of their physical learning environment, but also in terms of their emotional/mental health because of the vast changes taking place in their individual lives and the world surrounding them.

There are many changes to navigate and children as young as age 4 (Reception class) are now expected to receive their education remotely, via a digital screen, for 5 days a week and for a complete school day.

Most children are used to working with, or using, technology, but this new and exclusive virtual schooling (by computer/laptop/tablet or phone) is a completely new phenomena.

I get it, getting this right is important for their education. Our teachers are doing an amazing job, and so are you, as well as our children showing us how adaptive they are to these big changes.

However, where possible, we can help our children do this in the safest and healthiest way possible. One of the ways we can do this is by considering their learning environment and set up at home.

After so much change and challenge, the last thing we need is children suffering with physical aches and pains – which they can get just as much as adults if working in a continuous strained position.

Growing children’s bones are not fused, and the endplates are still soft (did you know the pelvis is in 3 parts and does not fuse until 15 years of age?) so we really need to make sure we encourage and support good posture, as well as ensuring they have regular breaks from technology.

One of the best ways to do this instantly is to ensure that your child is sitting correctly, and I don’t mean whether or not they sit on an office chair, the main thing is they sit at a supportive chair and not slumped on the sofa or perched at an angle on their bed.

I am passionate about looking after our bodies (at any age!) and I wanted to provide you with some useful ‘top tips’ to help you check your child’s workspace and make the best out of whatever you have available.

All parents and carers are doing the best they can, and I hope some of this will help you make small improvements to make daily life a little easier. Please don’t forget that whatever you are doing is already AMAZING considering these strange sets of covid circumstances.

Computers

Some children will be on a computer – my top tips for this set up:

Make sure they are not reaching for the mouse and keyboard, bring it towards them so that their elbows are on the table. You may need to bring the chair in towards the table.

Younger/smaller children may need to sit on a cushion to bring their eyes level with the screen, and you may find a box under their feet is helpful too. Make sure your child is sat square on to the computer (i.e. they are looking straight ahead at the screen).

Laptops

Children using laptops need to be sat at a table/desk – where possible they (like us!) should NOT be sat on the sofa with the laptop on their laps – this puts a huge amount of pressure through the neck and shoulders, and can lead to headaches.

Younger children won’t need a laptop stand as then the screen will be too high, older children/teenagers probably will. Again, make sure the device is not too far away from them.

Tablets & iPads

This is probably what most children will be using. Try and rest the tablet against some books (or get a tablet stand/holder- there are lots online) so that the children are not looking down at the screen for prolonged periods whilst holding the device.

Try not to have it flat on the table as this will still place pressure though the neck – ideally the tablet or I-pad does need to be propped up.

Phones

The advice for children using their phones for their online lessons is very similar to that of tablets and I-Pads. A holder is a great idea, or at least have the phone propped up so that they are not holding it looking down.

For older children/young adults you may find the blog on ergonomics useful.

Eyes

If your child is complaining of headaches, or you feel they are straining to see the screen, opticians are open and able to help you further.

FREE TIME

Move away from technology!

Get some music on, and dance. Dance together, enjoy being together. Be silly together, make each other laugh. Laughter is great as it releases endorphins, as does exercise, so do make sure you encourage your child to be physically active as well as academically active.

Walking is therapy for the mind and soul, try to go out and look for some signs of the season changing, they are there! There are also some fantastic resources on YouTube for P.E and yoga – kids need to stretch too!

If you have any questions, or if I can help you in any way, please just get in touch with the practice:

Emily Coombes
Registered Osteopath
info@kibworthosteopaths.co.uk

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