Summer holidays are nearly over, and once again our children will be burdened with school work, and – in a more physical sense – with school bags. A new cohort of kids (especially those starting secondary school) will be trying to haul their entire school life back and forth on a daily basis – plus sports kits, musical instruments, etc etc.
What should you look for when choosing a school bag? Ideally, weight should be carried on the hip girdle, which is much better developed for load-bearing than the shoulders. So, go for an adjustable waist-belt, as well as wide shoulder straps to even out the load. Look for a padded back panel to prevent file corners making themselves felt. Even better, a mesh panel to allow airflow – a sweaty, sticky back is only going to encourage students to resort to slinging their bag over one shoulder alone. Look for adjustability; both in the shoulder and the waist straps; this will allow the pack to be carried in the most efficient way.
Top tips for school bags:
- Kids should carry around 10%, and no more than 15%, of their body weight. If there are lockers available at school, encourage your child to use them and think ahead about what they need to be carrying.
- Clear out backpacks on a daily basis so they don’t get filled up with out-of-date or unused books and papers.
- Pack the bag properly – that means heavier items closest to the child’s back, use compartments to distribute weight as evenly as possible.
- Carry the bag properly – that means, use the waist-belt, adjust the straps so the bag is close to the back and not hanging down too far; the top of the pack should be no more than a couple of inches below shoulder height.
- Make sure your child knows how to pack and adjust their bag.
There are some “ergonomic” school bags available (such as these from the charity BackCare); or if you look in an outdoor / hiking store you will find packs with good levels of comfort and adjustability (and maybe even something that looks trendy, too!)