Every year as school begins, we hear the warnings about the damage that kids’ backpacks are doing to their spines. Some parents find themselves despairing of any recourse, since kids have to get their books and materials to school, and many schools ban rolling backpacks that are designed to help the back but may cause increased trip hazards.
With that in mind, here are some tips for saving your child’s back and lightening the load.
1. If you can afford it, an e-book reader and an electronic copy of your child’s textbooks can turn several pounds of textbook into a few ounces. Amazon offers rentals of many textbooks, including electronic copies. This can cut your costs. Even if you can’t get your kids’ textbooks this way, you may be able to use an e-reader or tablet for some other instructional materials, including dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia.
2. Take only what’s needed.
It’s okay to ask the teacher what days the textbooks will be needed. If a science lesson is going to focus entirely on a handout and an experiment or hands-on activity, there’s no need for kids to lug one more heavy book in their backpacks that day. Also, if there’s no homework or studying to do in a textbook on a particular night, encourage your child to leave it in his locker or desk.
3. Adjust backpack straps.
Kids Health warns that many kids wear their backpacks in a way that causes more damage to the spine. Adjust the straps so your child’s backpack sits above his waist, and always use both straps. Avoid single-strap messenger bags and other bags or carry methods that put all the weight on one shoulder.
4. Carry a few books.
It may not be your first choice, but taking one or two books out to carry in your hands can lighten the demand on your shoulders. If it’s not possible to leave any books home, holding the book, and perhaps binder and composition book, for the next class in your hands can take that much off your back. Remind your kids to drop a few books off at their lockers at the first opportunity to lighten the load for the rest of the day. Alternately, leave out heaviest books out of your kids’ backpacks and let them carry those straight to their lockers.
5. Leave other unnecessary items home, or drop items off at school for your kids.
Leave additional art supplies, toys, games, and other items at home. If your kids really need to take show-and-tell displays, craft materials, sports equipment, or other special supplies in to school, deliver the items to the office yourself, and your kids can pick them up when needed.
Kids’ backpacks carry their lives, but it’s not impossible to ease the strain and make it a bit better for them.