Tips to Lighten School Backpacks

Tips to Lighten School Backpacks-Leafy Souls Vegan Blog Post

In today’s digital world, a kid’sbackpack is still filled with textbooks, notepads, half-eaten lunches, water bottles, stationery, school fliers for meetings and activities - and for some schools, a laptop or a tablet. Both kids and parents need to double check that backpacks are emptied and refilled every day to avoid accumulation. Overstuffed bags can have long-lasting effects on children’s backs, but parents can help lighten the load with simple and effective tips to make sure that children avoid carrying more than they need to.


Smaller is better

You are in the store and your kid wants the newest, biggest and strongest school bag out there that all the other kids are getting. Stay strong and look for a backpack that your little one wants and that is small-fitting. While your child will most likely have a preference for the bag they want, convincing them to choose one on the smaller size will mean that they will have to remove any items they don't really need, protecting them from overloading themselves.


Talk to teachers

Join PTA meetings and voice your opinion. What do kids really need in their backpack that makes it so heavy? Do they need one notebook or three for every subject? Is there a basic lunch system that can be provided so that kids don’t have to bring a lunchbox and can bring snacks only? Are there lockers in the school where kids can leave their books so they don’t have to bring them home unless they need them for homework? Every little bit that can be taken away can eventually help school bags become lighter.


Weigh the bag

Weighing the bag may seem a little severe, but it is important. Research shows that everyone is carrying too much in their bags. Getting into a routine of weighing your bag before you go out will help prevent problems in the future. If only we had been taught this earlier, even as adults, we would be aware that there is a certain limit that we should carry - 10-15% of your bodyweight. Once parents start to give a precise figure to aim for and help their kids remember to check the weight every day, it will prevent the children from developing the bad habit of accepting to carry something heavy when it is not necessary.


Invest in Quality

It is pretty rare for a kid to lose his/her backpack. It’s one of their most prized possessions and like everyone else, they prefer to keep contents private and to keep their bag close to them. It is safe to buy good quality. Invest in a backpack that is strong, durable and well-designed. Thick, padded shoulder straps will balance the weight and will distribute it evenly. Use your best tactics to get your child to use both of the straps and not only the one.

Carrying the backpack over one shoulder will make one side of the trapezius muscles work harder to compensate for the uneven weight distribution. This leads to the spine twisting to the opposite side. Over time, this constant imbalance causes muscle strain and back pain.  We already keep a lot of stress in our neck and shoulders. Avoiding added weight can help prevent neck pain and headaches which develop over time.


Organize Notebooks

Using a pen and paper is still popular and during the school year, kids accumulate loads of different notebooks and loose paper which eventually contributes to unnecessary extra weight. Brainstorm with teachers and parents how best to deal with the problem. Teachers can spend time helping students with organization skills. Ten to fifteen minutes on going through your papers, throwing away anything they don’t need in the recycle bin will remove the excess paper clutter. Getting smaller notebooks with subject dividers per term might be more efficient than one notebook per subject for the whole year.


Homework Amount

Discuss homework with teachers. Is there a strategy in place that allows teachers to calculate the amount of homework they are giving in relation to the amount of weight they are adding to a backpack? It has been reported that student homework load is increasing as well as the number of items they are required to carry from class to home. Helping teachers become aware of this will inspire them to find alternatives ways to give homework that doesn't involve bringing home heavy books.


Avoid Risks

Highlight the risks involved if a child is forced to lean forward because of the heavy or off-balanced load. There is proven research that consequences include: muscle strain, local irritation to the ribcage and spine, change in the natural curve of the spine, and internal rotation of the shoulders and poor posture over time. Prevent these potential health risks by referencing these tips and considerations on how to lighten the load in your child’s backpack.


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