As our world has changed in 2020, many children and teens are learning from home. Not many people were prepared to make the transition, they never thought their children would be home-schooled. The change was abrupt and we have all been “making it work.” Rather than stress over things you can’t control, help your children focus on things they can control — their workspace.
Creating a designated workspace is an important part of helping children stay focused and motivated while learning from home. While you are considering the important aspects of your children’s workspace, keep ergonomics in mind.
What is ergonomics?
Ergonomics: is the study of efficiency in one’s work environment.
Importance of ergonomics for kids
While ergonomics help adults improve efficiency, they can help children to focus. When you aren’t in a comfortable environment you get sore and stressed more easily, some may even experience injury. Providing children with a comfortable work environment will help reduce stress in one aspect of their experience while learning from home. Help your child designate a comfortable space for them to learn.
How to evaluate your child’s workspace ergonomics
Shared computer space is often set up to accommodate the whole family, but proper ergonomics are far from one size fits all. Be sure you create a workspace tailored to the size of your child.
Evaluate the following areas:
Head and neck:
Eliminate any reason for students to be hunching forward causing strain on their neck. Generally, the height and angle of your computer screen have the greatest influence on your head and neck. Place the screen at eye level and be sure it is close enough for your child to see it properly
Hand and wrist:
Much of the pain people experience while working on a computer is in their hands and wrists. Wrists should always be in a neutral position with a straight line from the hands to the wrists. Keyboard height and angle should never cause strain on your child’s wrists. The appropriate desk height can be achieved when arms rest at an angle slightly wider than 90 degrees. Be sure that when your child is using a mouse, all of these same standards apply to the position of their hands, wrists, and elbows.
Posture and support:
Find a firm chair that encourages good posture while offering support to the entire spine. Be sure that your child’s chair is pushed in far enough that they are not required to lean forward to work. Your child’s shoulders should not be hunching forward but resting in the back of their chair.
Evaluate leg position to ensure their feet are flat on the floor with knees at a 90 degree angle when they are sitting with their rear end all the way the back in their chair. Dangling legs from a chair can encourage poor posture and decrease circulation. If your child is unable to reach the floor on their own, try using a footrest.
Many children have been proven to benefit from active sitting.
Active sitting: the ability to perform micro movements by activating core muscle groups while in a seated position in order to promote physical and mental health benefits.
Key benefits of active sitting include:
- Autonomy to choose how they want to sit
- Sensory input throughout the day
- Increased comfortability
- Increased focus
Even if children are engaged in active sitting, frequent breaks are a part of any healthy work routine that includes sitting. Ideally, you should stand up every thirty minutes to stretch for five minutes.
Ideas to encourage movement:
- Dance break
How to improve your child’s workspace ergonomics?
Do they have a designated workspace?
If your child does not already have a designated workspace for schoolwork, set up a space that is conducive to learning. Allowing them to work on the floor or the couch will cause discomfort, decrease productivity and support poor posture.
What equipment are you using?
Take inventory of the equipment your child is using daily. Aside from being a good fit for your child’s height, you want to find a chair and a desk that encourage good posture without restricting movements.
Consider pediatric ergonomic chairs with adjustable features. You can also purchase a child-sized mouse and keyboard.
If you are trying to encourage active sitting you may consider a chair with wheels or one that slightly leans back.
How does it affect their posture?
Once you have set up your child’s schoolwork space, have them sit in it and evaluate their posture. How is each element working together?
What changes can be made?
Once you evaluate your child within their workspace, adjust their equipment to the ideal conditions based on the criteria and tips listed above.
More tips for kids
After you have your child’s workspace set up you can use other tips to encourage healthy habits while they are learning from home.
Taking frequent breaks is important, because sitting for extended periods of time can cause serious health risks. Read our article outlining the benefits of using a standing desk for a full list of risks associated with prolonged sitting. https://galiotochiropractic.com/the-benefits-of-using-a-standing-desk/
If your child is heading back to school, be sure they are using the appropriate backpack for their size. Many times children experience back-pain caused by the heavy, ill-fitting backpacks they lug to and from school each day. https://galiotochiropractic.com/back-to-school-backpack-tips/
Stretching can be crucial to reducing pain and fatigue while working at a computer. Encourage your child to stretch frequently, however they prefer. Some helpful stretches include:
- Head rolls
- Shoulder rolls
- Marching in place
- Touching your toes
If your child is already experiencing pain, fatigue or headaches associated with home schooling evaluate their workspace and help them to develop healthier habits before these problems worsen. Help them to evaluate their home schooling ergonomics to promote efficiency and comfort while increasing productivity – leaving them more time to play!
If your child is in pain, chiropractic adjustments are a safe way to help them find relief.
Call today to schedule an adjustment or to discuss pediatric chiropractic treatment.