Back to school is both a hectic and a fun time of the year, and it is also a time to ‘buckle down’ some safety tips with your child. These will include looking both ways before crossing the road, staying safe on the playground, and how to properly pay attention to signs around you. But did you know that packing your child’s backpack incorrectly could lead to some major health issues?
Most notably, many people who carry badly packed or overweight backpacks often (like school children) will develop back, neck, and shoulder pains and can even have stunted growth or disfigurements from the weight of the pack.
Take these tips into consideration when packing your child’s backpack to make it easier and healthier for them to carry and teach them how to take responsibility for safely packing their backpacks when they are older.
Know when it is wrong:
- If your child struggles to get the backpack on
- If it hurts their backs, necks, shoulders, or hips
- If they have to lean forward to carry it
- If they lean to one side with it
All of these are signs the backpack isn’t fitting properly or it is packed wrong. Adjust the straps, and then adjust what’s in it.
Pack the bag:
Place smaller items, like pens, crayons, etc, in their proper places. In the large part, place the heaviest items in the back. Go from heaviest to lightest items as you move toward the front of the backpack. Once the bag is packed, have your child test it again. If they can’t lift it, or they have the above issues, they are most likely overloaded. If items don’t fit easily, do not force them. If the backpack cannot hold all the books and supplies, there are too many things being carried at once. MP3 players, video games, and other such items should not go in this backpack. It’s for school items only!
What to do with overload:
There are a number of things you can do if you find that your child’s backpack is overloaded on a regular basis.
- Teach your child to use their locker, cubby, or desk and to bring home only the items they absolutely need for studying and homework.
- Talk to the teacher about having two sets of books- one for the school and one for home.
- Have your child clean his or her backpack once a week to eliminate any unneeded items that may be adding to the weight.
- Teach your child to plan ahead. If things can be taken to school ahead of time – do it on a ‘light’ day. Likewise, make sure they bring home the things they need to on a regular basis and don’t let it build up.