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  • Annelise Kuczma

Posture

How to teach our children good posture…. when we may not demonstrate it ourselves.

It’s fair to say we have done a lot of sitting over the past two years. With all this time spent sitting at the kitchen table for zoom meetings, spinning on the office chair for class morning calls or sitting on the couch for our lunch break, it has impacted our bodies greatly! Our bodies have been squashed, skewed and contorted for a while and has resulted in some aches and pains and permanent imprints on our furniture. It’s important we notice and correct our posture when we can, especially for our children who still have a lot of growing to do!


Here is why it is so important to display the correct posture when sitting:

  • Sitting and standing with proper alignment improves blood flow, helps keep your nerves and blood vessels healthy, and supports your muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

  • Reduces stress on muscles and joints that may lead to aches and pains.

  • Concentration can be improved when sitting with good posture as our eye level is focussed on the computer, whiteboard or piece of paper we need to direct our focus to

  • Having appropriate posture is required before we can develop fine motor skills. Therefore sitting with good posture during handwriting tasks is very important to support wrist stability, pencil grip development and endurance in table top activities.


Signs of poor posture or poor core strength:

  • Slouching back in chair

  • Leaning forward close to the paper

  • Constant movement or shifting positions

  • Resting head in non-dominant hand or on the table

  • Dangling non-dominant arm/hand beside body instead of stabilising the paper

  • Poor balance in chair

  • Fatigue or complaints of tiredness


What we can do to improve our posture:

Positioning:

  • Angles are our friend when sitting! Good posture starts with a 90 degree angle with our hips, knees and ankles to remain stable seated with our elbows also sitting at a 90 degree angle so they can rest on the table for writing, typing, painting or drawing.

  • Children should sit with their elbows, hips and knees all bent at a 90-degree angle. Their feet should never dangle but should be propped up on a firm surface. Screens or reading material should be directly in front of them, about an arm's length away, and at eye level to avoid looking down too much and straining their neck muscles.

  • This looks like:

  • Keeping feet flat or rest them on either the floor or a footrest

  • Avoiding crossing knees or ankles

  • maintaining a small gap between the back of the knees and the chair

  • Positioning knees at the same height or slightly lower than the hips

  • Placing ankles in front of the knees

  • Relaxing the shoulders

  • Keeping the forearms and knees parallel to the floor where possible

  • Holding elbows at the sides creating an L-shape in the arms

  • Sitting up straight and looking forward without straining the neck

  • Keeping the back against the chair, or using a backrest or cushion if there are places where the back does not comfortably meet the chair, especially in the lower back region


Modifications:

  • If a chair is too tall, try placing a step stool or a box under the child's feet to promote that 90 degree angle bend in their hips, knees and ankles

  • If a chair is too short, try placing a thicker pillow underneath their bottom to raise the height of their hips so their knees and ankles are at a 90 degree angle again

  • If a chair shows too much of a gap between their back and the backrest, try slotting in a pillow or rolled up blanket to help support the natural arch of their back .


Breaks:

Adults generally can sit for 30 minutes or more without getting restless, but children need to switch things up much more often.

  • Remind them to switch up their positions every 10-15 minutes e.g sitting on a yoga ball, standing, sitting on a wobble cushion

  • Build lots of breaks for movement into the daily routine.

  • Taking scheduled breaks helps children to self-regulate, gives them the physiologic benefits of movement and helps them avoid getting to the point of frustration.

Correct posture for engaging in handwriting activities:

  • Feet flat on the floor

  • Thighs parallel to floor and knees at a 90 degree angle

  • Back up straight, inclined towards the desk and pivoted from the hips

  • Forearms resting on desk with elbows level with the desktop at 90 degrees

  • Paper stabilised with non-dominant hand

  • Neck and shoulders relaxed

  • Body faces desk squarely so non-dominant arm can support body weight

  • Paper tilted to the up to the right (if right handed) or up to the (if left handed)


For more information about ergonomic seating/positions, check out these links:

https://morleyphysio.com.au/uncategorized/how-to-teach-your-kids-good-posture/

https://www.toddlerfunlearning.com/2018/01/24/the-importance-of-good-posture-for-kids/


For more information about assistive technology or modifications, check out these links:

  • Slanted board - https://sensorytools.net/products/writing-slope-slant-board?variant=44589212498&currency=AUD&utm_medium=product_sync&utm_source=google&utm_content=sag_organic&utm_campaign=sag_organic&gclid=Cj0KCQjwiNSLBhCPARIsAKNS4_cyyxILkxEARMUkZeCtjE-crAh_saAS59fyKerOK-Wmys7_ORqvIPkaApIIEALw_wcB

  • Wobble cushion - https://www.kmart.com.au/product/balance-cushion/2901301

  • Wedge cushion - https://www.thetherapystore.com.au/product/movin-sit-seating-wedge-small/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwiNSLBhCPARIsAKNS4_cmnLRM8sTd8LJpnaLFMFqa5U1u60BinoeQha3qvu4oYoBlGUssi5oaAvX9EALw_wcB

  • Step stool - https://www.target.com/p/playtex-surefoot-single-step-stool/-/A-82606434?preselect=81279884#lnk=sametab