Perfecting Posture: Setting Up Your In-Home Classroom

Written by on August 31, 2020

Perfecting Posture: Setting Up Your In-Home Classroom

By Brittany Sweeney

August 31, 2020

Many schools are going virtual for the time being, forcing parents to create a learning environment in their home. WLVR’s Brittany Sweeney talks to a physical therapist about how to set up an in-home classroom.

Pediatric physical therapist Amber Cunningham says parents don’t need to buy fancy furniture to make sure their child is comfortable and sitting in a position that supports their body and focus this school year.

The Facilities Director for St. Luke’s University Health Network’s Nesquehoning Pediatric Therapy Location says household items can be used to make sure children are sitting properly.

“We want to focus on 90 degrees at their ankles, their knees and their hips and elbows and ways that we can accommodate a regular kitchen table and chairs to meet that position is by using pillows under their bottom to get them high enough so their elbows are at 90 degrees. You can use pillows or a supportive box behind their back in order to help them sit up nice and tall. Step tools boxes, crates can be used under their feet.”

She also advises parents to make sure students are taking breaks from the computer and to stretch every 15 to 30 minutes.

“I think that’s the most important thing for our students is to not really feel like they’re distant learning. They’re just strictly learning in a different environment,” says mom of two, Danielle DiRenzo. Her son Vincent is going into first grade in the Methacton School District from the comfort of their kitchen. She says “we’re currently sitting right at our kitchen table, so it’s certainly not like first grade that you normally would experience, but it’s the best we can do in our home. “

DiRenzo, who also has a four year old at home and is a teacher herself, wanted a way to separate school learning from home life. “So what I decided to do was get a cart on wheels. And basically make a little divider on each one they have like what looks like your college dorm shower caddy,” she says.

She’s also making sure her son is comfortable and sitting in a position that supports his body and focus. “When we think of a classroom, we forget that kids are sitting at smaller tables with smaller desk and smaller chairs,” she adds.

Cunningham also says it’s okay to change things up, saying “you don’t always have to do schoolwork sitting at a table, so maybe we do one assignment at a table and then the next one we can do kneeling at the coffee table. You can tape worksheets up to the wall and have them do a worksheet as long as it’s eye level and you can also have them do their schoolwork laying on their belly and changing positions throughout the day is going to reduce their risk of a muscle strain headaches and it’s probably going to help their focus and their attention and they’ll get better success with their schoolwork as well.”

DiRenzo is taking these tips and what she learned through the last few months experience and hoping to give her children an enjoyable, productive at-home classroom. She says “in March, it was crisis learning. We were trying our best to make it happen for our children, as parents as teachers and there’s been so much that we’ve learned from our mistakes as parents and as teachers that going forward, we’re more prepared.”

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