There is no doubt that the challenges of online learning have been felt throughout the community. With this becoming a more prominent method of schooling than ever before, it’s important that we keep the kid’s physical health in mind as well as optimizing their ability to attend to this mode of learning. Here are some simple tips to keep your kids alert and learning!
Make sure their workstation is set up appropriately. Follow the 90-90-90 rule. The chair should be set to a height where the kid’s feet can touch the floor and when their feet are flat the knees and hips should be at a 90-degree angle. The screen should be set to a height so that the child does not have to look down at the screen and should be set to look straight ahead. This can be difficult with laptops; a wireless keyboard can often help so the screen can be placed higher and the keyboard lower. Finally, the desk should be at a height that allows the child to type without raising their shoulders and without reaching for the keyboard (think 90-degree bend at the elbows).
Change it up periodically. Change positions of sitting if the desk setup becomes uncomfortable. Try laying on the floor on their tummy for periods of time, tall kneeling at the desk, using an exercise ball to sit on, half kneeling, or simply standing for periods of time.
Don’t stare at a screen all day. Follow the 20-20-20 rule for helping decrease visual fatigue. The rule simply states that every 20 minutes take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away. Timers offer great reminders for this.
Get movement in when you can! Remember that watching shows or playing video games during break times cannot really be considered a break from screen time. The brain needs a different kind of break away from the stimulus of a screen. Create a small circuit of exercises such as jumping jacks, running in place, rolling on the floor, squats or playing catch. If you have more time available, encourage outdoor activities such as a short bike ride, walking, or playing a game outside. It can be fun but it should be part of the routine and should be considered a mandatory part of the child’s day.
Watch the snacks. Have scheduled snack breaks with healthy foods to positively help the child throughout the day. Being at home and having all the comforts of home available can be more of a problem than a benefit. When it comes to snacking, try to avoid sugary treats as it will add up quickly and will negatively affect the child’s concentration. Remember too that juices can be very high in sugar and can be just as bad as eating candy, so keep an eye on the nutrition labels.
Make sure you model proper movement, exercise, eating and ergonomics yourself. The kids are home and they will notice if you are not practicing what you preach. Take a break from screen time and get in some movement with this kids!
These tips should help your student become more successful throughout an online school day. Always remember to be patient and give any new routines time to settle in before moving on to try something else. It can take several weeks to adjust to the routine. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s physical conditions, please give us a call at 623-322-8250 to schedule a physical therapy evaluation.
Steve Sargol, PT DPT