“Sit up straight!” I’m sure you heard these words from your mom all the time while growing up. In my case, it was my grandmother who was the stickler for good posture when I was young. It may seem that things like proper posture went out the window with the “children should be seen and not heard” era, but that is not necessarily the case. What has changed is why posture is important. Society may be less concerned with it from a manners standpoint, but we are more in tune with how posture affects daily life, especially for children. And, with the new change to at-home schooling, we wanted to make sure our kiddos practice proper posture in their at-home work areas. To have proper posture is simply described as the way in which your body is positioned; this can be while sitting, standing or lying down. Having good posture is a key component to a healthy child and to a successful student.
Did you know that improper posture can lead to poor handwriting and inattentiveness in school? It can affect fine motor skills and pencil grip. According to Occupationaltherapy.com it can also cause strain on your body, fatigue, achy muscles and joint stiffness. Educators, care takers and parents can look for these signs (as provided by occupational therapists) of poor posture or poor core strength in their children.
Sitting with good posture in the classroom as well as during homework time is integral to success. One thing to consider is to make sure your child is sitting with his feet flat on the ground. This helps to ensure that he is properly supported and sitting with knees, ankles and elbows at a 90-degree angle with thighs parallel to the floor.. If feet are dangling or crossed it changes the alignment of the body. There is even some connection to ensuring proper footwear so that his feet are properly supported. If the student’s legs are too short to reach the floor comfortably, consider a stool or foot prop to assist him. Make sure that your child is sitting with a straight back, slightly inclined toward the desk. Paper positioning is also a factor. The non-dominant hand should stabilize the paper, and the paper should be slightly tilted up toward the direction of the dominant hand. We may assume these things come naturally, but that may not be the case, and bad habits that are developed early are hard to correct.
Stacey Cricchio, MS, OTR-L , a pediatric occupational therapist in Gainesville explained that good posture in school age children begins prior to them ever entering a classroom and impacts them throughout their entire lives. “The biggest thing to teach to a child is to be aware of their bodies,” said Cricchio. “In a lot of cases they aren’t even aware of their own space.” This is why you often see children running and bumping into other students or slouching over and impeding others’ work areas. She feels that while it is helpful to give verbal cues to remind children of their posture, it is much more important to show them how so that they are able to exhibit good posture independently. Just five minutes of exercises can help children to build core strength and improve body awareness. “Your posture sets your frame of mind,” said Cricchio, and if you are sloppy and lazy, it will show in your performance.
CAUSES FOR BAD POSTURE:
- Slouching back in their chair
- Leaning forward, close to their paper
- Constantly moving or shifting positions
- Resting head in non-dominant hand or on the table
- Dangling non-dominant arm/hand beside body instead of using it to stabilize the paper
- Poor balance in their chair
- Fatigue or complaints of tiredness
POSTURE AND SCREEN TIME
Although Cricchio didn’t promote screen time, per say, she did recommend that if children are watching TV, they should lie down on their stomachs with their head supported by the hands on bent elbows. Much like tummy time for infants, this position strengthens head and neck muscles. Sitting crossed legged can lead to slouching over and actually cause posture problems.