Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Burdensome education

heavy school bagsA new school year is here! Lugging heavy bags to have become an integral part of school life. Despite parents’ best efforts to protect their children from getting hurt, one of the greatest sources of potential injury, which often goes unnoticed, is the school backpack. Every day the students are expected to haul around large amount of books, coursework and sporting equipments.

Backpack weight is becoming an increasing problem. Experts believe that schoolchildren should not carry load exceeding 10% of their weight. For example, if your child weighs 50 kilograms, then the load carried in his backpack should not be greater than five kilograms. Scientific research has shown that more than 50% of all children experience low back pain by the time they become teenagers.

Check that bag

Children between the ages of 6 and 14 are typically in their formative ages. At this stage the body’s vital organs are not fully developed and are therefore more vulnerable to injury. The heavy book load that children are subjected to carry lead to physical stress and poor posture, which may have repercussions on spine health.

Dr S. P. Mandal, senior consultant, department of orthopaedics, Sir Gangaram Hospital reveals the health hazards of lugging heavy backpack. He expresses, “Heavy backpacks affect your child’s health in many ways. The pressure of the belt in the bag presses the vital structure of shoulder and neck, due to which in the long term can cause muscle fatigue and neurovascular embarrassment.”

Ideally for a ten-year-old child the weight of school bag should not exceed beyond two to three kilos, advises he.

Tips to load-off

  • Encourage your children to check their timetable carefully to minimize the load to be carried.
  • Your child’s school should provide lockers as a storage space to lighten the load.
  • Help your child to avoid countless bulky books, which make your child’s load too heavy.
  • Keep a set of textbooks, which can be shared by groups of students.
  • Provision of safe drinking water and hygienic food in the school canteen instead of allowing them to carry these from home.
  • Also encourage your child’s teachers to plan ahead and inform students when texts are not required for lessons so that they are not carrying unnecessary loads.

Some schools like Excelsior American School, Gurgaon believe in the philosophy of going bag-less. Parents need to help the school in this effort and Shalini Nambiar, Director of Excelsior American School, Gurgaon, gives some advice in this regard— “Check that backpack on a regular basis. They are typically full of unnecessary items. … I think if you went through the backpacks, you could shed 10 pounds just like that.”

“Isn’t school a place to study and home a place for parents to spend quality time? I often have parents insisting on homework but one needs to give this keeping the age of the child in mind. Homework should be re-enforcement of what is being done in school and if it is well planned then children don’t need to carry loads of books back home,” she adds.

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Category: Exam Stress
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