Back-to-School Prep – Ready Your Home

As you ready your home for school, take into consideration these suggestions from the folks who deliver The Teaching Home Newsletters.

Ready Your Home for School:
Set Up Your School Space

1. For Study and School Work

Determine what space you will use for school.  This may vary from subject to subject or from child to child, but might include:

•  Kitchen table for math and writing.

•  Couches in living room for multi-age classes or reading.

•  Desk for older child’s independent study.  (See suggestions for setting up an office for your teen that sends a message that study is serious business.

•  Computer stations. The safest option is to keep Internet use in an open area, often frequented by family members, or be with your child when he is on the Internet.

See “Ergonomic Considerations” below.
2. For Others in the Home

Also establish space where those not in school (preschoolers, husbands with a day off, etc.) can be free to enjoy themselves without disturbing students.
3. For Storage of School Supplies

Set aside space for school books, reference books, supplies, and records:

•  Use shelves, drawers, or sturdy plastic crates or boxes

•  Label clearly (with a child’s name, subject, or item) so everyone knows where to return things

•  Ensure spaces are easily accessible and ample enough to add more items without crowding.

Find many innovative and practical ideas in “Storage Strategies for Homeschool Families.”
Ergonomic Considerations

As you set up various work areas in your home, make sure they fit the needs of your family members, or can be adjusted for each one.

This will help your children learn healthy computer habits and develop good posture, while preventing pain, strain, or future health problems.

•  Desk.  Use a desk or table of the correct height to allow for work in the neutral position, forearms parallel to the floor with elbows bent at a 90-110 angle.

•  Chair.  Avoid rounded or curved seats that encourage slouched postures.

•  Adjustments.  If necessary, adjust the chair height with a cushion or pad on the seat to raise the height of the child in relation to the work surface or keyboard.  Use a back cushion, pillow or rolled-up towel for back support.

•  Legs.  The child’s knees should be positioned at an approximate 90- to 120- degree angle.

•  Feet.  If feet do not reach the floor with heels on the floor, place a box or footstool under them.

•  Monitor.  The monitor should be directly in front of the child, 18-28 inches from the eyes, at or below the child’s eye level.

•  Wrists.  The wrists should be straight when keying or using the mouse, not angled up or down.

•  Copy Holder.  Purchase a clip copy holder that mounts on the side of your monitor, a small document holder, or a copy board for the computer which will allow the child to look up at the work being typed instead of down at the table.

•  Keyboard.  Consider a small sized keyboard for younger children.

•  Eyes.  Reduce eyestrain with adequate lighting, no glare on the monitor screen (tip bottom edge slightly back), and frequent breaks to look at a more distant object.  Blinking helps keep the eyes moist.

•  Eye Exercise: Palming. Learn to do this simple eye exercise to help reduce eyestrain.
1.  Place your cupped hands over your closed eyes without touching your eyes.
2.  Overlap fingers and rest on your forehead without putting pressure on your face.
3.  Sit quietly for 1-2 minutes.  The more relaxed you become, the blacker the darkness you will see with your eyes closed.

•  Water.  Because your child’s muscles need adequate hydration to avoid injury, encourage him to drink an adequate amount of liquids (a little less than the average of eight 8-ounce glasses recommended for adults).

•  Breaks.  Set a timer by the computer and have your children take a stretch break every 15-20 minutes.
For More Information

•  Workstation Ergonomics Guidelines for Computer Use by Children.

•  Stretches you can do in your office by Mayo Clinic staff.

Find out more from The Teaching Home.


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