Many kids and teens will head to school today with a backpack that is too heavy for them. They might moan about the weight of the pack, but they do not seriously make a change to their backpack weight. Many parents have raised concerns, but not many have figured out how their children can decrease the weight of their backpacks when there is so much homework to be done. Heavy backpacks may not cause visible damage now, but they can cause real and scary damage to the back later on. What’s a parent to do?
One article interviewed a local chiropractor about this issue saying, “The message was not getting across to children that they needed to not only reduce the weight of their bags but it was just as important to wear the bag correctly. Symptoms of spinal damage may not become apparent until later in life and could include back pain, increased rates of degeneration or scoliosis.”
Furthermore, the article says, “Australian Physiotherapy Association national president, Marcus Dripps, said school bags should not weigh more than 15 per cent of a child’s body weight.”
Who’s to blame in this heavy backpack situation? Should we point the finger at schools for assigning too much homework? Or should we blame the students for not balancing their workload, carrying their backpacks right, and for wanting the trendy style backpack? The answer is both.
As parents, you must realize that heavy backpacks are a two-fold problem. First, teachers need to adjust homework so that not every heavy book is required for the student to haul back and forth. If not that, the teacher needs to have classroom copies of the heavier textbooks so that students can keep their own copy at home for homework. How do you get your child’s classroom to implement this? Try bringing the matter up with the teacher and figuring out together how to make this happen.
Sometimes the teacher will be of no help at all. At this point, parents need to help their kids learn how to balance the load. Most kids will gravitate towards the trendier backpacks; it is only natural. As a parent, it is essential to put your foot down on what is trendy to provide your child with a backpack that is safe. Backpacks that come with an extended handle and wheels are great, except that many students shy away from this style due to bullies. Also, backpacks on wheels can be just as dangerous for students if they drag them or carry them upstairs when the bag is too heavy.
The most important thing a parent can do is to teach their kids how to wear their backpack properly. This means students should not just sling their bag over one shoulder. Instead, they should wear their backpack with both straps on the shoulder with the back close to the middle of their back. If the backpack sags closer to the child’s rear, then the straps need to be adjusted. Also, padded shoulder straps will prevent damage. The size of the backpack should also be equivalent to the child’s height and age; avoid buying backpacks that they will grow into.
Another thing parents can do to protect their children is to teach them how to stay organized. Many students don’t realize that they don’t need to take a whole book home just for a worksheet. Also, many teachers give free time to work on subjects. Encourage your child to use the time wisely instead of wasting it. Middle schoolers and high schoolers should use their lockers inbetween classes and take advantage of a study hall or even 30 minutes at lunch or after school to finish the heavier homework.
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