Posture, Vision, Sitting, & Heavy Bags?
Developing Healthy Home School Study Habits

chinese students. study posture

Chinese students forced to sit up straight in class.

Does your child have poor posture? Slouch while sitting? Read in a way that isn't great for her eyes?

Developing healthy study habits is an area we're working on in our home school. The good news for our kids is that they don't have to worry about carrying monster-sized backpacks from class to class ;-)

The picture above comes from China. One school wants to do something about myopia (near sightedness). The school's central planners figure they can install orange metal bars and stop kids from slouching too close to the desk when they read and write; and thus save their eye sight.

But if you look at the picture below, you'll see that kids will always find a loophole in the system.

chinese student finds loophole in system

Student discovers easy loophole in administration's war against myopia plan.

I think home school parents can do a better job improving their children's sitting position, vision, and posture than any school administrator; and do it for a lot less money.

Bad Posture Looks Bad and Leads to Health Problems...

Our bodies are built for moving. And sitting for a long time is tiring and creates strain in the shoulders, lower back, hips, legs, neck, and arms. Sitting for too long also effects healthy lymph and blood flow.

Over time this strain and unnatural position (i.e. sitting, sitting at a computer, reading, writing, sitting in a car, watching TV, playing video games, etc.) causes pain and may even lead to chronic pain.

Being young doesn't make you immune to these problems according to a study in the Journal of Pain Research. Back and neck pain is common in students just as it is in adults.

But there's more. Different sitting positions even effect pulmonary (breathing) function in students according to the Journal of Physiology and Pathophysiology.

As you can guess, it's difficult to study well if you're not breathing right and getting enough oxygen to the brain.

What You Can Do To Avoid These Health Problems? MOVE! Move a lot!

Free Download: Posture and Study Habits Guide from the McKinley Health Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It's full of useful tips on computer/keyboard use, optimal lighting, proper desk and chair height, and more.

Physical Therapist Jane Milliff lists these shocking statistics: "Sitting for 8 hours has been linked to 65% more fatigue, and a greater incidence of diabetes, heart disease, musculoskeletal pain, and overall de-conditioning."

Her solution is to move more. Unfortunately, one hour of exercise won't undue eight hours of sitting while studying, or working, or driving… so move a lot and throughout the day.

She suggests setting a timer to remind you to take regular standing breaks, or do periodic sitting exercises like tapping your toes, tightening the muscles in your buttocks and legs, and rolling the shoulders.

Doctor of Ophthalmology Robert Abel Jr. says that long-term computer use leads to fatigue and hurts concentration. None of which improve you're study or work time.

He states that constant close-distance work on a computer or mobile device can cause progressive near sightedness. In the past 25 years, the number of near sighted adults has increased from 25% to 42%!

His recommendations, in addition to moving your body more, is to:

  • Move your eyes more, too.
  • Take breaks from the computer screen by looking away from it and focus on something at a further distance.
  • Shift your focus from computer to desk to out a window, and take your time doing this. Take ten seconds to relax and focus on something in the distance outside the window.
  • Dim the ambient light to about half.
  • Remove any glare from the computer screen. Ideally, the light source should be at a 90 degree angle from the screen.
  • Blink your eyes frequently to moisten them. And every 20 minutes, blink them slowly to relax and moisten them even more.
  • Get eye exams and take supplements that help your vision like Omega 3 fatty acids, and eat a healthy diet.

What We Do in Our Home School?

Our kids are on a 30-minute on, 5-minute off routine. They're expected to concentrate on their assignment for half an hour. Then during their break they have to step away from the desk.

A few times during the day they use their breaks to do some physical activity like jumping jacks, burpies, or something else that gets their heart rate up and gets the blood (and lymph) flowing. These spurts of physical activity also improve productivity.

We'll be doing a better job of adding sit ups and crunches to their routine since sitting too long attacks the core like the abdominals, lower back, and even the spine.

In addition, we 'prescribe' P.E. Run around outdoors in natural light, some soccer, some martial arts, and more. It's too bad that one hour of exercise is not enough to beat back eight hours of sitting.

What do you do?

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