We are all adjusting to new ways of doing things, including children learning from home and taking classes online.
Compared to adults, kids are less likely to feel pain from improper workstation ergonomics and can tolerate them for a longer period of time before developing musculoskeletal issues. However, long periods of time in non-ergonomic positions can have impacts on a child’s physical development.
To prevent these injuries and make learning more comfortable, it is important to take the time to set up a good workstation at home.
The Right Space
First, find a dedicated learning space in your home where your child can be productive, with good lighting, and a space with a desk or table surface and a chair.
The Right Equipment
Proper ergonomics for children is very similar to what is recommended for adults. The big difference is in using furniture that is the right size for children. Ideally, a child’s workstation would include a height adjustable desk and chair that can be adjusted as they grow. If you don’t have this equipment, you can still ensure proper posture and set-up by following some basic guidelines when studying from home.
Work Surface – The work surface or table-top should be the height of a typical desk with the chair fitting under the surface and elbows and wrists supported at 90-degree angles.
Chair – If the child has to sit forward to bring their knees to the edge of the chair, the chair is too large for them. The child should be able to sit all the way back in the chair with their knees bent at 90 degrees and feet on the floor. If you need additional support, place something sturdy under the feet. The backrest should reach approximately to the shoulder blades. If needed, place a pillow in the lower back for lumbar support.
The Right Set-Up
It’s important to use good posture. Avoid sitting on the end of the chair, hunched over the desk, or slouching in the chair.
Sit with your hips to the back of the chair, squarely facing your workstation. Knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, feet firmly on the floor. If you need additional support, place something sturdy under the feet. Sit up straight with your ears lined up with your shoulders, and elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
Raise your Screen – Your screen should be roughly arms length away from your eyes, with the top of your screen at eye level. It’s important that you aren’t bending your neck down to view the screen. Use books or a box to raise your screen up to eye level.
With your screen raised up, use a separate keyboard and mouse so that your elbows are aligned with the keyboard height. If needed, you can roll up a towel and place it under your wrists for extra support.
Stand Up Desk
Sitting for too long is hard on your body, so alternate your posture by standing up. You can make a stand-up desk by finding a surface in your home that is the right height for your child when standing. Raise the screen to eye level using a box or books and place the keyboard and mouse on a lower surface to maintain a 90-degree bend in your elbow. Standing on a yoga mat or anti-stress mat can reduce strain on your legs and lower back.
It’s important to alternate your postures throughout the day.
Stretch and Move
Physical activity is critical for children. Incorporate some physical exercise into the daily learning routine, and aim to take a break every 30 minutes to move.
These breaks are also important to give your eyes a break to avoid eye strain. When viewing your mobile device, make sure to position it at eye level rather than stretching your neck forward to look down. Check out more information on how to avoid Tech Neck.
Working from the Couch
Working from the couch is not recommended, as the seat does not allow you to maintain good sitting posture which can lead to back pain. If you need to work from the couch, only do so for a short period of time.
Avoid slouching back on the couch with your head straining forward to see the laptop on your knees and avoid sitting on the edge of the couch hunched over your paper on a coffee table.
It’s important to move your hips all the way to the back of the couch, feet out in front of you. Use a pillow to support your lower back. Place a pillow on your knees to raise your device higher and avoid bending your neck forward.
Working from the Bed
We know that kids like to move around and are less likely to stay seated for long periods of time. Often, kids will work from their bed or the floor. If you need to work from these alternate spaces, only do it for a short period of time.
Avoid laying on your back and propping your head up with pillows or sitting cross-legged on the floor leaning over the laptop. These positions can lead to back and neck strain, headaches, and knee and hip issues.
Sit with your hips back against the wall or headboard. Use a pillow to support your lower back and place another pillow on your lap to raise your laptop up higher.
We hope these tips help you set up your workstation at home to make the most of your school day!