Thousands of students in the metro DC area turned on their devices this morning and put their home workspaces to the test, but not all distance learning spaces are created equal. Parents need to know their kids are keeping their bodies (and minds) healthy. Dr. Ehsan Jazini, a spine surgeon at the Virginia Spine Institute joins us to share his top 5 tips and tweaks for a healthy learning workspace.
The start of the 2020-21 school year looks quite different for many families as virtual learning takes center stage. Set your kids up for a stress-free school year with a few simple actions to prevent longer-term physical impacts that may be caused by the physical demands of distance learning.
5 TIPS AND TWEAKS FOR A HEALTHY HOME LEARNING WORKSPACE
Setting up a designated workspace for your child allows them to stay focused and motivated. A separation between workspace and play space will work wonders for this challenging transition to at-home schooling, plus it allows you to set up the best chair, desk, and monitor that provides ample support for their growing bodies. Ideally, they should have a desk that is appropriate for their age and height. (consider a height-adjustable desk if your budget allows) Whether it’s the kitchen table or a desk all of their own, a workspace should be sturdy, a height that avoids hunching over.
A healthy posture is key! Having a chair at the right height for your workspace is key to keeping your spine in the best position. Smaller children might need an extra boost, consider pillows or cushions to get them to the right height. If you find their feet are dangling in the chair, place a box, books, or a step stool under their feet for extra support for their back. Most home chairs do not provide lumbar support to help keep your back straight. An easy and economical fix – roll up a towel and place it at the small of your back, or use a pillow.
Looking down at a screen is a recipe for neck and back pain. Furthermore, if your child’s laptop or tablet is laying flat on the table or on their laps, their neck is straining to look down which can cause nerve pain. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to do this: a stack of books or a cardboard box is a great way to raise the viewing height of your screen or tablet.
As with us adults, the kids need to be set up with success at their home workstation. Many children use tablets for virtual learning but have no keyboard. Using a separate wireless keyboard and mouse at the right height where forearms and hands are level and straight can help prevent nerve pain from hands up to the neck and shoulder. Keep in mind, your child will fare best if the keyboard and mouse fit their hands.
Get outside, get some vitamin D and fresh air to clear the mind, and get the blood flowing. If time, or weather, doesn’t allow, stretch. Raise arms as far as they can, rotate the spine right and left, bend it right and left, and lean back. Doing this 10 times every half hour to 45 minutes helps get them moving. My favorite activity to get children up and about is to get up and dance! This is a great way to re-energize and re-focus, plus it’s a fun break during their schooling.
One of my favorite breaks for kids is to have a dance party! Turn on their favorite music and get them moving. The benefit of these physical breaks is that not only will they get the blood flowing and joints moving but also come back to learning more focused and alert.
At the end of the day, distance-learning is difficult and new for most students (and parents) this year. However, implementing these tips and tweaks will set your family up for a successful and comfortable school year. Catch the rest of Dr. Jazini’s interview with Fox 5: