Creating an Ergonomic Homeschooling Environment
33% of all injury and illness cases reported in the workplace are attributed to ergonomics-related incidents. Although thought of primarily as a workplace issue, having proper ergonomics when homeschooling your children is also of top importance.
Since your schooling environment may be geared toward what makes your children feel comfortable (rather than sitting in a formal desk), they may be at a greater risk for carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, lower back injuries, and tendinitis. Fortunately, there are several key ways you can protect your children from ergonomics-related injuries when homeschooling.
Properly set up tables/desks used for study
One of the most essential components of ergonomics is the proper desk/table set up. If your children sit at the kitchen table, or in a non-traditional location when completing worksheets and activities, it might be time to have them switch to a more traditional desk. The ideal desk should have plenty of space for your child’s legs and feet.
If your child’s desk is currently too low or too high, you can make simple modifications to correct the issue. As needed, you can either add height to the desk by propping boards underneath, encourage the use of a footrest, or you can use a height-adjustable chair. The chair that you select for your children should be supportive and appropriate for their height and size. While seated at their desk, they should be able to rest their feet on the ground, while resting their arms comfortably on the armrests.
Correcting your child’s posture
Although most people know that having good posture is important, not many know why. Having consistently poor posture can lead to increased fatigue due to reduced blood flow to the muscles, compression of discs, muscle aches, headaches, and poor joint alignment. Studies have shown that in addition to the resulting health benefits, having good posture can increase productivity.
In order to help your child have positive and pain-free school days, correcting poor posture is an absolute necessity. If your child slouches while doing their work for the day, help him or her sit and stand in alignment. If they are standing, encourage them to straighten up their back and neck, and distribute their weight evenly. When sitting, your child should align their back against the supportive features of the chair.
Take frequent breaks to get up and move
Sitting down for prolonged periods of time is tiring on the muscles. That’s why it is crucial to have your children take breaks from their studies. This strategy can also help reduce eye strain. Every 30 minutes, instruct your child to get up and walk around and/or stretch for a few minutes. You can also encourage them to do brief exercises to get their blood flowing again and to help energize their minds.
Just as it is in a workplace, ensuring proper ergonomics in your child’s homeschool environment is necessary for their health and safety. After implementing the adjustments listed above, be sure to ask your children about their comfort level to ensure that no further modifications are needed.