Now that school is in session, the American Occupational Therapy Association recommends taking notice of what items are being carried to and from school and how. The following guidelines can help:
- Make sure that the backpack that is the correct size for your child.
- Adjust the height of the backpack so that it extends from approximately 2 inches below the shoulder blades to waist level, or slightly above the waist.
- Make sure your student always wear well-padded shoulder straps on both shoulders so the weight is evenly balanced.
- When packing the backpack, distribute weight evenly by loading the heaviest items closest to the child’s back and balancing materials so the child can easily stand up straight.
- Advise the student to wear the hip belt if the backpack has one, to improve balance and take some strain off sensitive neck and shoulder muscles.
- Check that your student’s backpack weighs no more than 10% of his or her body weight. If it weighs more, determine what supplies can stay at home or at school each day to lessen the load.
- If the backpack is still too heavy for the child, consider a book bag on wheels.