DES MOINES, Iowa — Many schools are optioning for some form of virtual learning this year and occupational therapists are reminding parents of the importance of giving children a proper workspace at home to help with posture and fine motor skills.
“The goal really with creating good seated posture is to think about 90 degree angles. So creating 90 degree angles at the ankles, the knees, and the hips,” Kari Disney, a pediatric occupational therapist at Blank Children’s Hospital said.
Doing this can be hard at home when most families don’t have a desk perfectly fit for their child, but with some modifications it can still be done.
If the child is seated at a dining room table, for example, chances are their feet can’t touch the floor. Disney suggests having a step stool or some books under their feet to create that support.
For chairs that are too big, she suggests using pillows behind the back to stop slouching and keep that upright posture.
Courtesy: All Inclusive Therapy
Finally, make sure the Chromebook or tablet is at eye level. If the desk or table can’t raise, putting some books underneath the device can keep strain off the neck.
“Obviously throughout the day with doing online learning, we’re not always going to have to be engaging on the computer. So another really important thing would be changing the position you’re in, getting out of that seated position,” Disney said. “So can we kneel at an end table? Put the device at eye level to kind of get a different position to activate our core, our lower body. We could also lay on the floor and watch videos propped up on our arms.”
Disney also suggests giving plenty of movement breaks and having kids’ learning space be outside of their bedroom, leaving that environment for where they rest and sleep.
If children are continuously in poor posture and body alignment over the course of a long period, Disney said that can lead to back and joint pain, eye strain, headaches, and increased muscular imbalances that put you at greater risk for injury.