If you are facing the challenge of remote learning and are feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone.
Here are a few tips from Alicia Heading, PT, DPT of Renue Physical Therapy – Midland to help you create a welcoming workspace, prevent injury and maximize focus.
Create a dedicated semi-permanent workspace
You don’t need fancy home-office furniture to create a dedicated workspace. Here are a few tips to get started:
• Clear clutter and have necessary materials handy and organized on shelves or in folders.
• Whenever possible, minimize nearby distractions like TV or other siblings.
• Consider what works best for your child — some children may do well near a window to prevent boredom. Those with attention difficulties may do better facing a decorated wall to avoid distractions.
• Children with lots of energy may benefit from sitting on an exercise ball or wiggle seat instead of a chair.
• Design a routine that works for you. While it may not be possible or realistic to create a “perfect daily routine,” developing a routine that works for your family can help everyone know what is expected. Try to have set times for breakfast, chores, schoolwork, lunch and free play. Add in short but frequent breaks to help children maintain focus.
• Prioritize proper seating. No matter what your workspace looks like, seating is important. Poor posture can cause the body to work harder and lead to injury, and can even affect your child’s handwriting. Here are a few things to look for when it comes to seating:
If child-size furniture is not available, be sure to make adjustments. Place a pillow on the seat until the table surface is slightly below resting elbow height. Put pillows behind the child’s back until the knees are two inches in front of the chair base.
Set a box, stool or books on the floor to support the child’s feet — thighs should be almost parallel to the ground.
When using a computer, use books to elevate the screen so the child can look straight ahead instead of straining their neck to look up or down.
Combat eye strain. Eye strain can become an issue with or without computer use if lighting is too dim, and can cause headaches or discomfort. Place a desk lamp with an LED bulb on the opposite side of your child’s dominant hand.
Change it up. Bodies aren’t made to stay static for hours, and various learning locations can enhance a child’s ability to retain information. Having a “home-base” dedicated workspace is important, but it also helps to have a bit of variation for certain tasks. For example:
Create a reading nook with a bean bag, or allow reading while stretched out on the sofa to allow changes in body position.
Sit on the floor against a wall for back support and use a tray table for drawing or tablet work.
Take a table break. When working at a table, short breaks are important. Have small items handy like smooth stones, stress balls, erasers, fidget toys or play dough for sensory play to help fight restlessness.
Check in regularly. The stresses of remote learning may show up differently for each child. Be sure to regularly ask your child how things are going, and specifically ask if they are experiencing any pain or soreness. Also be sure to check in on their emotional needs, as feelings of stress can often show up physically as well.
Find the fun. Look for simple ways to add fun to a task, like using favorite characters or movies for writing prompts or using dice for math games. “Fun” does not need to be elaborate to help with focus.
Make time for movement. Throughout the day, make time for movement breaks or challenges. Here are a few ideas:
Create timed challenges, like how many jumping jacks you can do in a minute or timed races.
Jump rope to a favorite song.
Create obstacle courses that include learning challenges, like completing a puzzle or playing a game of hangman.
Movement + Learning = Fun. Look for fun activities that already incorporate learning and movement. A few ideas include:
Safari hunt for nature-themed spelling words.
Find plants and catch bugs, then learn about the types you found.
Learn a new dance to test memory and patterns.
Take a walk and play “I Spy” with letters (“I spy something that begins with A”).
Measure a room or different objects to practice math and measurements. Make it fun by trying to guess the measurements first.
Take writing or drawing lesson outdoors using sidewalk chalk.
Even with the best of intentions and planning, there may be some remote learning days that are more difficult than others. Remember that each day is a new day, and it’s never too late to try something new.
If your child is experiencing pain or discomfort while remote learning, contact a Renue Physical Therapy clinic near you to request an ergonomic assessment. To learn more, visit www.renuept.com.
– Processed by Victoria Ritter, [email protected]