Customised seating helps kids learn better

One-size tables and chairs don’t suit all body types and cause physical stress in children

Keeping pace with the changing times, schools have incorporated technology into their classrooms. Smartboards, digital learning, online assignments, live streaming, integrated learning — educational institutions are becoming ‘smart’ like never before. But as we devise more and more ways to keep our children hooked to their seats, we need to relook at how comfortable these seats themselves are.

Classroom ergonomics (ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them) is still not a concern for a majority of schools in the country.

Children spend as long as nine hours at their desks every day and almost 83 per cent of them sit at desks and chairs that are not suitable for their body height. This leads to a lifetime of neck and back pain in children.

“Children spend several hours sitting in the classroom and hence it is very important to provide proper seating that supports a healthy posture. Since young bodies develop rapidly and the body size differs from one another, a common desk and bench may not suit the student’s body. This leads to physical stresses such as back pain, neck pain, etc in early age itself,” says Sundar S, managing director, Dovetail Furniture. Dovetail has introduced ergonomic cum multi-functionality classroom furniture range, which provides flexible seating and puts children in the right learning posture.

“Basic ergonomics does not require any additional cost as it is largely about using correct measurements, which can be applied to improve any design with any material. However, increased comfort would entail using better seats and backs, which would be more expensive than regular benches,” Sundar adds.

Subhanjan Das, physiotherapist in Apollo Clinic, HSR Layout, says that bad seating puts strain on the lower back and cervical region. “Bad posture also affects the phrenic nerve, which supplies motor information to the diaphragm, which might affect the muscle for breathing. It can also cause eye-related problems, which may affect the concentration of students while reading.”
 

What can be done In the classroom

School children have the most fluctuating body dimensions so adjustable furniture would be a good option in schools.

Flexi chairs (with changing seat inclination) and swivel chair with height adjustment are some examples.

Also, experts are of the opinion that within a classroom, the first 2-3 rows can have table-chair sets specifically designed to suit children with shorter height.

The back few rows can have tables and chairs suitable for taller children.

 
In computer labs

The monitor should ideally be at a distance of around 2 – 2.5 feet from the child’s eyes. The seat should be high enough so that their arms are bent at a 90-degree angle.

There should be a footrest to prevent their feet from dangling, a small-sized mouse and child-friendly keyboards with light pressure keying.

Joshua Samuel R, manager- research and development and consultant physiotherapist at Recoup Neuromusculoskeletal Rehabilitation Centre, says that there is a need for awareness sessions in schools for officials and teachers on what would be an ideal seating environment.
“We see children coming in with back and neck issues and pain in the arms and legs, which is a result of heavy school bags combined with wrong seating postures. So the need for ergonomically - designed classrooms is real.”

However, he adds that if the furniture is too comfortable, people will tend to sit for longer and will develop more problems. “To combat there, children should be made to do some light exercises or stretches during breaks,” he says. He feels there can be micro breaks in between classes too.

 

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Customised seating helps kids learn better

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