With all of this extra unwanted screen time, Irvington resident and Physical Therapist, Karen Gstalder-Dring has suggestions that will benefit our children's (and our) bodies considering the variety of the positioning, the chair/desk and the environment. Is the chair fitted to your child's size? What are the best ergonomics for the chair/computer screen on the desk? How can you have your child move a bit in their "home classroom? Read on to learn what Karen suggests.
Karen Gstalder-Dring, MS PT
So our kids in K-12 are being asked to sit and attend to a screen for a minimum of 6 hours/day. There are many exercises that we can all do to ward oﬀ the deleterious eﬀects of sitting for a prolonged time but that is for another discussion.
Let’s instead talk about variety: variety of the positioning, the chair/desk, and the setting.
Ideally a chair is fitted for your size. You want your feet comfortably on the floor, your pelvis slightly higher than your knees. If your seat cannot be adjusted to slightly tilt downward, aiding in a neutral pelvis, consider placing a towel fold just under the back third of your child’s ‘Sits bones’.
If the seat is too deep considering bringing the back of the chair to the child with a pillow against the back rest. Most arm rests are set too wide to use while typing. Alternately, consider resting a firm pillow on your lap so that your elbows can be supported more directly in line with your shoulder joint.
Sitting at a desk with a Chromebook or laptop is not ideal. For the best ergonomics, you want your monitor to be at eye level, with your neck and head in neutral (not looking downward), and your wrists resting on the keyboard slightly lower than your elbows. If you can raise your monitor to bring it to eye level by putting your laptop on a box or stack of books, you may want to use a separate keyboard.
So yes to a standing desk, but you don’t need to use it for the entire 6 hours and it doesn’t have to be an oﬃcial expensive one. Look around the room. Is there a dresser? A book shelf? Do you have a few game boards or a plastic storage box to make the proper proportions? Make it as easy a transition as possible or it won’t be used as an option between/within a class.
Even the elementary kids are accustomed to getting up and moving from the classroom for specials, lunch and recess. Most of us are all making due with multiple family members getting work done under one roof. Try to create variety within the child’s ‘home classroom’. A standing desk is an example, but so are a physioball, and a kneeling chair. No one is going to want to work 6 hours straight in any one position. Our bodies need a variety of pressure changes and support.
If you are fortunate enough to have several work stations in your home, consider suggesting your child rotate around at various times of day. If you have kids of similar sizes and proportions, suggest they swap rooms half way through the day.
We will get through this. All the above will help make it happen a bit more eﬃciently.