As the summer break draws to a close, it’s time to shift focus towards getting the kids ready to go back to school. Aside from shopping for school supplies and uniforms, there are several other crucial factors to consider that contribute to a successful and smooth transition.
Our handy guide will help both you and your child or children have a positive and well-prepared start to the new academic year.
According to the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), 33% of parents say their child has suffered from back or neck pain in the past. With this in mind, our first few tips will encourage good habits to protect your child’s back.
Posture and device usage
The BCA names technology as the biggest growing cause of back pain in the UK, with 68% of chiropractors seeing an increase in children with issues linked to screen time. In one extreme case, a four-year-old child had complained to their parents of back pain which was linked to using a tablet for several hours each day.
In today’s world of smartphones, tablets, and laptops, it’s important to teach children healthy device habits.
1. Regular breaks
Encourage your child to take regular breaks from screens and engage in physical activities. Prolonged sitting and screen time can lead to slouching and poor posture. Remind them to stretch, walk around, or play actively every 30-60 minutes. These breaks not only give their eyes a rest but also help reset their posture.
2. Proper posture
Teach your child the importance of sitting with a straight back, relaxed shoulders, and feet planted on the ground. Encourage them to use a chair with good back support, adjust the height of their desk and check that their monitor is at eye level. If possible, consider investing in adjustable desks, chairs, or laptop stands to support better posture as they grow.
3. Strengthen core muscles
Having a strong core is crucial for maintaining good posture. Engaging in activities that strengthen core muscles can help your child improve their posture. Yoga, Pilates, swimming, or basic exercises like planks and sit-ups are great options to strengthen muscles in the abdomen, back, and pelvis.
4. Lead by example
Remember, leading by example is important. Practise good posture yourself and limit your own screen time. Engage in physical activities as a family, such as going for walks, playing sports, or enjoying outdoor games. By promoting healthy habits and providing guidance, you can help your child develop lifelong practices that support proper posture and overall well-being in the digital age.
Choosing the right school bag is crucial for your child’s comfort and well-being. Tim Hutchful from the BCA advises: “We recommend a backpack over other styles of bags as it allows the weight of the bag’s contents to be distributed evenly across both shoulders so the spine is not pulled out of line.”
However, if backpacks are worn incorrectly, or overfilled, they can put pressure on the neck and spine, leading to pain and potential injury. We’ve packed ours with a few useful tips!
1. Choose a bag with two straps
Opt for a backpack that can be carried on both shoulders using two adjustable straps. Carrying a backpack over one shoulder puts excessive weight on that shoulder, making it difficult to maintain good posture. If your child insists on a one-strap backpack, encourage them to alternate shoulders and carry it across their body.
2. Tighten bag straps close to the back
Properly adjusting the bag straps is vital to support the weight of the backpack. Ensure that the straps are snug and close to your child’s back. This helps distribute the weight evenly and alleviates pressure on the shoulders.
3. Remove excess objects from the backpack
Lightening the load on your child’s back is essential for their comfort and safety. A lot of backpacks are large in size, giving the temptation to fill them with a multitude of things. Regularly remove unnecessary items from their backpack to distribute weight evenly. If heavy items must be carried, place them towards the top of the bag to reduce strain on their shoulders.
Encourage active travel
By encouraging your child to embrace active travel such as walking, cycling, or scooting, you will promote physical fitness, teach lifelong healthy habits, and contribute to a more sustainable future.
The benefits of active travel
1. Physical health
Walking, cycling, or scooting to school helps your child meet recommended exercise guidelines, promoting cardiovascular health, strengthening muscles and bones, and maintaining a healthy weight.
2. Mental well-being
Physical activity releases endorphins, which can improve mood, reduce stress, and increase concentration levels. Walking or cycling in the fresh air also provides an opportunity for relaxation, clearing the mind, and preparing for the day ahead.
3. Environmental sustainability
Active travel contributes to a greener and more sustainable environment, reducing reliance on motor vehicles, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Practical tips to encourage active travel
- Identify safe and suitable routes to school that avoid busy roads or hazardous areas, such as pathways, cycle lanes, or pedestrian-friendly routes. Warn your child about the dangers of looking at a mobile phone while walking, and how headphones can prevent them from hearing traffic.
- Join or create walking/cycling groups to connect with other parents and children.
- Lead by example and actively participate in walking, cycling, or scooting with your child. Showing enthusiasm and enjoyment for active travel will inspire and encourage them to join in.
- Make sure your child understands how to cross roads safely, the importance of wearing helmets, and other relevant precautions to keep them safe.
- If your child is not used to active travel, start by incorporating it into their routine a few days a week and gradually increase the frequency.
Eye Health and Screen Time
In today’s digital age, excessive screen time has become a common concern, and it’s important to prioritise the well-being of our children’s eyes. You can take proactive measures to protect and maintain their eye health by implementing the following strategies.
1. Schedule regular eye tests
Ensure your child’s eyes are tested before the school year begins. Regular eye exams can detect any vision issues early on and allow for appropriate interventions.
2. Implement the 20-20-20 rule
Encourage your child to follow the 20-20-20 rule when using screens. Every 20 minutes, have them look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This helps alleviate eye strain and fatigue.
The Importance of Well-Fitting Shoes
Proper footwear is crucial for your child’s comfort and overall well-being. Consider the following when selecting shoes:
1. Get the right fit
Choose shoes that fit well, providing ample room for toes to wiggle and proper arch support. Ill-fitting shoes can lead to discomfort, foot problems, and even affect posture.
2. Invest in quality shoes
Opt for well-made shoes that are sturdy and durable. While they may be a bit more expensive, they will provide better support and last longer, ultimately saving you money in the long run.
Getting Children Mentally Ready
Preparing children mentally for the return to school is just as important as physical preparation. For some children, the anticipation of returning to school may bring about anxiety. Encourage open conversations to address any concerns or worries they may have and create a safe and supportive environment where they feel comfortable expressing their emotions. Help them develop coping strategies, such as deep breathing exercises or positive self-talk, to manage anxiety effectively.
1. Establish a routine
Gradually reintroduce school routines a few weeks before the term starts. Regular bedtimes, meal times, and scheduled activities help create a sense of structure and familiarity.
2. Address anxiety openly
Have open conversations with your child about any concerns or anxieties they may have. Provide reassurance, listen actively, and help them develop coping strategies to manage their emotions.
3. Boosting confidence levels
Building confidence is essential for children to thrive academically and socially. Encourage them to engage in activities they enjoy and excel in, such as hobbies or sports and celebrate their achievements and highlight their strengths to boost their self-esteem.
4. Encouraging communication with friends
Having regular interaction with friends helps reduce feelings of isolation and makes the transition back to school smoother. Remind them that their friends may also be experiencing similar emotions about returning to school too.
Supporting Parents and Managing Anxiety
Starting school for the first time or transitioning to secondary school can be overwhelming for parents too. Here are some tips to support both your child and yourself:
1. Seek guidance from the school
Contact the school for information, support, and resources to help ease the transition.
2. Plan and prepare in advance
Meal prepping, organising schedules, and creating a family planner can help reduce stress. Prepare lunches the night before and involve your child to foster a sense of responsibility.
Preparing children to go back to school in September involves more than just buying supplies. By following the tips provided in this blog post, you can ensure your child’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being as they embark on the new academic year. With careful planning, open communication, and attention to detail, you can make the transition a smooth and positive experience for the entire family.
At our clinics in Yeovil, Crewkerne, and Beaminster, we are dedicated to promoting mobility and posture through a comprehensive range of services. Our team of professionals offers chiropractic care, aromatherapy, remedial and sports massages, all tailored to meet your needs and support an active and healthy lifestyle.
We understand the importance of staying active and maintaining overall well-being, especially when it comes to your child’s development. Whether you’re seeking guidance on enhancing your child’s exercise routine, advice on preventing injuries, or information about any of our services, our knowledgeable team is ready to assist you.
Contact us today to take steps towards improved health, mobility and well-being.