Back To School = Backpack Shopping

Back  To School = Backpack Shopping

It’s that time of year again – the littles (or not so littles in some cases!) are about to go back to school!  It’s the time of year when parents run around trying to get all those back to school supplies and prepare their kids for their return.

One of the biggest and most important purchases is a backpack.  Ill fitting backpacks can lead to back and shoulder pain, changes in walking and potential balance issues which could lead to injuries.

Here is a handy guide on what to look for in a backpack!

Things To Consider

As with any purchase, there are lots of things to consider and, unfortunately, sometimes the biggest consideration for many children/families is what the backpack looks like.  I know that it can be hard when your child has their heart set on a certain colour, character or style but, for the sake of their bodies, here are a few more things that you should you can consider:

1.  Bigger isn’t always better

Especially not for little kiddos!

Little ones should have a smaller backpack that fits well and, if needed, they can carry their lunch bag separately.

2.  Weight of the backpack

When I was a kid we had a ton of textbooks and I know that has changed with the growing amount of technology in classrooms – however, there is still lots of stuff that needs to go into a backpack!

The golden rule is that the backpack should weigh no more than 10-12% of the child’s weight.

3.  Ease of use for your child

Can your child put on and take off their backpack independently?  Can they easily carry it?

Practice if you need to!

This is a great opportunity to promote independence in younger children.  Have your child carry/wear their own backpack, whether getting on the bus or walking to school, right from the first day of school.

How To Choose The Right Backpack

Fit, fit and fit!

Only after finding a backpack that fits consider the internal features.

A good fitting backpack:

  • Should fit snuggly against the back
  • Have wide padded straps that can be adjusted for length
  • The bottom of the bag should be no more than 3-4 inches below the waist line (true waist NOT hips)
  • Has two straps!
  • If your child is older and carrying heavier loads, the backpack should have a clavicle strap and hip straps to help distribute the weight

Internal features should include different compartments, which help distribute the load – and stay organized!

Arrange the heaviest items closest to the back to help minimize the stress of their weight.

A water bottle pocket on the outside is always a good idea as well.

Hopefully this post helps guide you towards a great backpack for your child – happy shopping!!!

Sitting Still in School

Sitting Still in School

I came across this article recently and, although it’s a bit older, it got me thinking.  I too, like Angela Hanscom, an occupational therapist, have parents who have been getting feedback from their children’s teachers that they are concerned with ADHD and fidgeting in school.  I often get questions from parents on how long their child should be able to sit for during class.  And, vice versa, teachers who feel that children aren’t able to sit, pay attention, and participate appropriately.

In the article, Angela discusses observing a typical classroom (not special needs) at the end of the day and seeing that kids were tilting back in their chairs, fidgeting, chewing on pencils, etc.  From what I hear from my friends who are teachers, (a variety of elementary grade levels) this is pretty typical.  When I hear this, I can’t help but think that I don’t really remember that from when I was a kid in school.  Sure, there was the occasional kiddo who would play with a pencil, or lean back in their chair on the occasional day, but not the majority of the class on a daily basis.  So what happened?!?  Why is this happening?!

Angela touches on two things in her article, the first being our expectations for kids to sit for longer periods.  I know this will fluctuate from school to school and teacher to teacher, depending on how their classroom is structured.   However, the constraints of getting everything in that needs to be taught, as well as school policies, often means that kids are sitting for looonnng periods of time.

I was speaking to my family on the weekend and got asking my niece a bit about this.  In her school, the children don’t move class to class for different subjects (which we did as kids – at least specialty ones), they stay at their desks and the teachers come to them.

The second is that our kids are just not moving enough! From an occupational therapy perspective, she talks about how not having kids move is effecting their attention.  And I whole heartedly agree!!  But what really got me thinking, is how this all relates to the kids I see here in physio.

I have been seeing more and more kids in the last little while whose parents tell me that their teachers are concerned that they fidget constantly.  When I assess them, the trend tha I’m seeing more often than not is that they don’t have much core strength (*Check out my past blog posts to learn more about our core).  So, I have been paying close attention in sessions, as well as when I get them to come in from the waiting room, and I’m starting to think these kiddos fidget as a strategy to compensate for their lack of core strength. (Hence why this article seemed perfectly timed in a connect the dots kind of way!)  I would have typically described kids with poor core strength as those kids who melt into chairs and lay on their desks (and I do still hear about quite a few of those kids as well), however I like to think of these kids as a new breed of poor core strength kids.  These are the kiddos who parents might think are strong (“They have a six pack, how can they have a weak core?”), however, when you test them they have okay initial strength, but their endurance is not where it should be.  Again this goes back to kids not getting enough time being active – a sport two days a week for 45 mins is just not enough time!  So, instead of melting, they move constantly to recruit different muscles and to give those tired muscles a break.

I also keep thinking that the types of moving kids are doing now is also different to what we used to do as children, and that the issue is starting long before these kids get to school.  But this post is lengthy enough (these next two thoughts I could chat for hours about lol) and I don’t want us all sitting reading and not MOVING, so look forward to future blog posts on container babies (WHAT?! …just wait!) and why risky (and rough and tumble) play is important!