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Back-to-School Ergonomics for Kids

Tuesday, August 31, 2010
By Anne Kramer

Getting ready to go back to school can be a thrilling time for kids. They anticipate getting to make new friends, seeing old ones, and learning new things every day. Similarly, for parents, back-to-school time can be a busy time. If your child is younger, it’s your job to make sure they’re prepared in every way possible for a new and exciting school year.

While this certainly means making sure they have adequate clothing for every occasion, and that they’ve got the basic school supplies they’ll need, have you thought to include some of the lesser-considered materials – some that may actually affect positive health benefits for your growing child?

In reality, there are a number of considerations to be made when shopping for your youngster. Perhaps most important, and certainly the most applicable across the age spectrum are their writing tools. If they’re like most American children, they’ll spend most of the day with a pencil or pen in their hands. This is why it’s so important, even if your child isn’t using a writing utensil designed to promote ergonomic health over a long period of time, that they take steps to combat carpal tunnel syndrome. Pencil grips promote an ergonomically-sound writing position by holding the fingers in a relaxed position by supporting the first knuckle of the thumb and index finger. In addition, it encourages full hand and arm action, preventing fatigue and pain associated with writing.

Another item on everyone’s back-to-school shopping list is a good backpack. No, not one with the latest cartoon character or superhero, but one that does what a backpack is supposed to do – without compromising your child’s health. Ergonomic backpacks reduce the stress associated with carrying a backpack by 80%, and lighten the overall load by 30%, thereby promoting not only sound ergonomics, but all-day comfort for your little one.

If your student is a little older, they’re likely to be using a computer on a regular basis. While this is a fantastic learning opportunity for your child, it also presents a whole new set of ergonomic pitfalls for you to avoid when doing your back-to-school shopping. For the computer at home, a kid’s keyboard is a great way to not only ensure sound ergonomics when using the computer, but to build confidence as well. Simplified keyboard functions and a colorful keyboard make using the computer easy for your young one. Similarly, a Big track trackball style mouse will facilitate your child’s usage of the computer, even if they don’t yet have the patience to deal with a sensitive mouse.

Still older kids are likely to be using laptop computers on a regular basis. While they are no doubt convenient to use, these portable computers can present ergonomic problems with extended use. To combat these dangers, there are a few different types of laptop desks. When you’re on the go, a lapdesk provides a no-fuss flat surface on which to work, all the while keeping your mouse and keyboard at the correct height for safe and comfortable computing. If your child happens to find themselves with a little more time to work, they may wish to set up a laptop holder. This ingenious device converts any flat surface into a fully-functional, ergonomically-sound laptop work station.

So while you may choose to indulge your child’s desire for a new pair of designer sneakers this back-to-school season, keep in mind the items they may not know they need.

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