Ergonomic Tips for Your Home Classroom
With millions of children homeschooling due to COVID-19, and reports of this continuing for some time, children are spending more time on electronic devices to get their work done. Creating a work area for your child that is comfortable and ergonomic is the key to setting them up for success in school and avoiding any physical strains now and into the future.
10 Ergonomic Tips for Your Home Study Space
1. Create a Dedicated Work-Study Space – Create a dedicated space for your child to take their online lessons, complete homework, and study. This may be especially challenging during COVID-19 while your entire family is at home struggling to find a spot to claim as their own. Even if it is in the corner of a room or a card table that you haul out of the closet, create a designated place for your child to do their work.
2. Navigating Shared Work Spaces – If your child is sharing their workspace with other members of your household, make sure to set a schedule, so everyone knows when it is their turn to work in the space. Remember to take into account that each person using the workspace may be a different age and size, so plan accordingly.
3. Desk Size and Height – If your child is small, it is best if you can set them up with a child-size desk that is appropriate for their age and height. If your budget allows, getting a height-adjustable desk is best so that you can adjust the height of the desk as they grow. This is also very helpful if your child is sharing a desk with other household members.
4. Seating – It is best to get a chair that is the appropriate height for your child. Choose a chair that allows their feet to be on the floor and provides support for their back. If your child is using an adult size chair at and adult size desk, you can use pillows for back support and a box or stepstool under their feet. Remember to encourage them to sit with a healthy, upright posture when doing computer work.
5. Laptops & Tablets – In general, laptops pose ergonomic challenges because the screen height is not adjustable. The best position for a computer screen is slightly below eye level. We recommend using a laptop riser or propping the laptop on a box or stack of books. If a tablet is used, then it is best to prop up the tablet and use it with an external keyboard. We do not recommend using a laptop or tablet in bed or on the couch, but if your child must do so, using a lap desk (homemade or store-bought) will help them sit in a healthy position.
6. Keyboard and Mouse – It is best to place your child’s keyboard directly in front of them and at or slightly below their elbow height. Their upper arm should be able to hang vertically so that their elbows fall directly under their shoulders with their elbows close to their sides. The mouse should be level with their keyboard and within close reach. If you see their arms stretched out to type or navigate, help them bring their keyboard and mouse closer.
Your child will fare best if their keyboard and mouse fit their hands. Mini keyboards with either a detachable 10-key pad or no 10-key pad at all will likely fit them better since they are smaller and allow for the mouse to be in front of the shoulder and minimize the need to reach.
7. Monitors – Whether your child is using their laptop screen, tablet, or an external monitor, it is best to have the screen propped up and positioned directly in front of them, about an arm’s distance away and slightly below eye level. This can be accomplished by raising the screen height of the monitor or using laptop risers.
8. Headphones – If your child is using headphones while they take their online lessons, watch videos, or listen to music, it’s best for their developing ears to use over the ear headphones instead of earbuds, preferably with noise-canceling features. Teach them how to check volume levels and strive to set at 60% volume or lower.
9. Lighting – If possible, set your child’s work area up near a window for natural light, but perpendicular to your windows to avoid glare on the screens. If there’s not enough lighting in their workspace, a desk lamp can be used to provide more light. If your child complains of eye strain, you can adjust the contrast levels on their screens. Digital eye strain can also be lessened with the use of blue light glasses designed specifically for computer related activity.
10. Frequent Breaks – Encouraging your child to take regular breaks throughout their school day will go a long way at keeping them in tip-top shape, both physically and mentally. Encourage jumping jacks, stretching, and even hula-hoops!
Comber Physical Therapy & Fusion Chiropractic is here to assist you on all of your ergonomic concerns. Your health, and the health of you family, is important to us. Schedule an evaluation with one of our providers today.