CHICAGO (WLS) -- The transition from classroom to in-home learning was abrupt for many parents and students.
If students don't have the proper workspace, they may be hunched over a kitchen table or on a couch with no back support and that can affect not just their school work but their bodies as well.
Dr. Nikki Weiner, an Ergonomics Specialist and founder of The Rising Workplace said parents should make sure their kids have a proper e-learning workspace to prevent discomfort and other long-term physical challenges.
"The situation was totally unpredictable and we didn't know at the time how long it would last," Dr. Weiner said. "Now looking forward into the fall, I feel like we can take a more measured approach as we kind of know what to expect a little bit more."
Dr. Weiner offers 10 simple tips for parents that can drastically change your child's home learning experience:
1. Size your kid to table and chair
When possible, work at a table and chair that fits the child. Early childhood tables and chairs are often found at thrift stores and yard sales. Teens/older children-might be comfortable sitting in a height adjustable chair with a foot stool. A smaller child's setup might look similar to an adult office setup.
Remember, if you're investing in a sit-stand desk, look at the height range. Most models do not lower lower than standard desk height, which is not helpful for children.
2. Sit with support
Use pillows or cushions for extra support when needed. Having your child sit with their backs supported keeps them from fatiguing, which causes slumping forward posture.
Also, have your kid sit with their feet supported. You can use a foot stool or foot rest.
3. Use an external mouse and keyboard
These products allow you to raise your child's screen while keeping a comfortable arm position. A compact keyboard is ideal for kids and a smaller mouse, sized to their hands Is another good option.
4. Raise the screen
Especially for bigger kids, use a riser, stand or stack of books to bring the top of the screen to eye level. For handheld devices, encourage your child to hold them at heart level.
5. Limit couch working to short intervals (please, no bed working)!
If your child is working on a couch, try a lap desk. It improves the set up by allowing for external mouse use and slightly raises the screen Again, sit with back supported to encourage a more neutral posture.
Working from the bed poses ergonomic challenges and blurs the boundary between school and personal life.
6. Remember Movement, big and small
Kids need to move in regular intervals in order to focus. Build movement breaks into your routine and allow small movements while at the desk, like a fidget or a move-n-sit cushion.
7. Take screen breaks every 20 minutes
Screen breaks are very important to combat eye strain and screen fatigue Also, adjust the screen brightness and turn on blue light filters, especially during non-daylight hours
8. Think about lighting
Exposure to natural light helps with mood, attention, and sleep; that cannot be overstated.
9. Think about noise
Choose a space that minimizes distraction from noise. Use a fan or low-volume white noise to mitigate unpredictable noise.
Try noise cancelling headphones, but be cautious of earbuds and headphones-- they can cause hearing loss in children when listening at high volume for extended periods. If you can hear it from a few feet away, it's probably too loud.
10. Establish a routine that works for the whole family
It's important for parents to remember consistency is key.
After putting these measures in place and sticking to the plan, you and your children will likely have a more harmonious work-from-home experience.