Written by: Dr. Elizabeth Whitehead, PT, DPT
It’s the time of year that all parents have eagerly awaited. Especially this year. Especially after living through a pandemic for 18 months.
Especially after home schooling…and hybrid schooling…and virtual schooling…and quarantining…and cooking…and feeding…and working from home…and doing ALL the things for 18 months.
It’s time to send our children BACK TO SCHOOL!
It’s time to send them into a building where there are deserve-to-make-a-million-dollars teachers, classrooms full of friends, and CAFETERIAS!!
As excited as we all are to send our children back into their schools and to embrace a normal (albeit masked) routine again, there are a few things we can do to help make this transition as easy and successful as possible.
First, let’s talk about backpacks. As tempting as it is to cram every last one of those school supplies into their backpacks and send them on their ways, we need to be careful that we aren’t overloading that bag and placing unnecessary stress on their still growing and changing spines. Limit the weight in your child’s backpack to 10-15% of their body weight. Pack the heaviest items closest to the back. Make sure they use both straps to keep that weight distributed, and then tighten the shoulder straps so that the backpack rests as close to their back as possible.
Second, let’s talk about where we do our homework. I’m sure that all of you have seen this video that we did last year about setting up a work space for virtual school, and I’m equally sure that you all heeded our advice and have perfect spaces set up for your children! Let’s keep those spaces around as a place to do homework. Remember to create spaces that encourage a neutral spine and are also comfortable for your child.
Finally, let’s talk about being active. When I ask my boys what their favorite part of the school day is, I get an immediate, no-thought-required answer. “Lunch and recess!!!” As much as I would like for them to yell “Math!” or “Science!” I also realize that it is equally as important for them to be active. Not only is exercise good for our muscles, bones, and organs, but it is also good for our brains! Research has shown that physical activity leads to increased attention spans, concentration, memory, and behavior. So…encourage your child to play outside or do some type of physical activity for 30 minutes after school before settling in to do their homework. You might just find that homework time becomes easier and shorter because of it!
In addition to these 3 little tidbits, and possibly above all else, let’s all pat ourselves on the back for enduring what could possibly (fingers crossed) be the most challenging year we’ll face as parents. Let’s work hard this year to keep our children safe, to find our normal again, and to have a wonderful school year!