The Ideal Posture for Children during Home Based Learning
Good ergonomics has been covered to death when it comes to adults, but what about the ergonomics for children? During this circuit breaker period, home based learning has become the new normal for all students in Singapore. Whether your child is doing e-learning in front of a laptop or doing hard copy assignments at a desk, it is important for them to maintain a good posture. This may be difficult as parents may not have suitable furniture for children to study at. In this article, we cover 3 tips for parents to help their children adopt the ideal posture to study at home.
When it comes to instilling good posture, the best time is when your child is still young. Proper posture helps to protect a child’s growing spine and reduce the plethora of musculoskeletal problems that could result from poor posture. Below are some guidelines and 3 tips for parents to achieve the ideal posture for children during home based learning. We also share tips on setting up your child’s workstation to improve their home based learning environment.
Desk & Chair Height
Most furniture are built for adults and thus, not built to suit a child’s proportion. A desk that is too high can put the child’s elbow and wrist in an awkward and stressed position. A desk that is too low can cause your child to instinctively hunch over to type on the computer. This leads to poor posture over time and may result in more serious chronic aches and pain involving the neck and back.
Parents can also consider purchasing an adjustable table or a tilting desk for your child. An adjustable table allows flexibility to adapt the height of the table as your child grows. A tilting desk helps to reduce the inclination to hunch over the table. It also allows better positioning of the forearm and hands for tasks such as writing and drawing. This helps to minimising the strain on the shoulder, neck and wrists.
The ideal seated posture for children should follow the ‘90-90-90’ rule. Your child should sit with his elbows, hips and knees rested at a 90 degree angle. This means that the height of your child’s workstation should be at the same level as their elbow. For young children, it may be necessary to raise the height of the chair to achieve the ideal seated posture. A foot support or stool should be provided if your child’s feet are dangling mid-air and not resting flat on the floor.
Adequate Back Support
The chair should be equipped with a backrest to provide adequate low back support. If a backrest is unavailable, a small cushion or a rolled towel can be placed at the mid to lower back section. This helps to provide additional support for the lower back.
For parents who are sharing their desktop or laptop with their child, the computer set-up needs to be easily adjusted to suit both the adults and child’s needs. The key guideline is that the top of the computer screen should be parallel to your child’s eye level. This reduces the need to constantly look up and down, which reduces the risk of a neck strain.
Raising A Laptop Screen
If your child is using a laptop, get a separate keyboard and mouse so that the laptop screen can be raised. The laptop screen can be raised to an appropriate height using a portable laptop stand or by placing a pile of books under the laptop to prop it up.
During this period of home based learning, your child may spend several hours a day in fixed positions while studying. Postures such as slouching on the sofa or lying on the bed and floor are not ideal positions to stay in. If your child is spending a lengthy amount of time in these postures, consider mixing up their tasks to avoid long stretches of staying in one position.
Adults can generally sit for more than an hour in an ideal posture without getting restless. However, the same does not apply to children. Fidgeting or getting restless in their seat can result in your child developing poor posture and losing the ability to focus. Schedule frequent breaks every 30 minutes to ensure this doesn’t happen. It can be a snack break, water break or just an opportunity to stand up and stretch. Taking regular breaks will help your child to self regulate and provide them with the physiological benefit of movement.
This home based learning period could be a great opportunity to develop good postural habits for your child. Bringing them closer to an ideal posture that follows them through life. We hope that the tips above have been helpful to creating a conducive and comfortable studying environment for your child. If your child is experiencing back pain or neck pain, do contact our team of physiotherapists to book an appointment.