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Preparing for School

In anticipation of the new school year, Ayelet Keller, Director of Physical Therapy Services at Schneider Children’s advises how parents should choose schoolbags and shoes for each child according to his age and weight.
Date: 17.07.16 | Update: 25.07.16

Choosing the right backpack according to the child's size is very important in order to maintain a healthy back, shoulders and neck. The following guidelines are offered:

  • Backpacks should have wide and adjustable padded shoulder straps
  • The bag should have extra padding at the back and contain several compartments to allow for balanced weight distribution
  • Shoulder straps must be the same length while most of the schoolbag’s weight should be located in the small of the back and not at the lower back
  • To avoid extra weight, only items needed for that day of school should be taken, while ensuring that the bag’s weight, when full, does not exceed 15% of the child’s weight
  • Children should be encouraged to notify parents of any back or shoulder pain when carrying the schoolbag
  • Wheels for schoolbags should take into account the conditions of sidewalks to and from school; while wheels obviate wearing the bag on the back, they do add extra weight and unsuitable for climbing stairs, which requires a greater effort to lift. Since wheels encourage asymmetrical movement of the back and hands, the child should alternate use of both hands.
  • Reflectors should be attached to the backpack for road safety

When selecting shoes and sandals, attention should be paid to structure and shape, which should be wide and rounded at the top. Heels should fit snugly preventing the foot from slipping out at the back. Shoes should be made of flexible and aerated material since rigid materials interfere with foot movement. Slip-slops of any kind are not recommended.

When selecting shoe size, the type of shoe should be appropriate to the build of the foot: wide/narrow. Correct shoe size is determined by measuring the right shoe and then left shoe when the child is standing (the length of the feet are usually not the same). Sock size is also important: if the sock is too small, they confine essential movement, and if too large, folds cause pressure and discomfort. Shoelaces must be properly tied, so that they will not come undone or press on the foot. Parents should measure the child’s shoes after a day of activity because of the foot’s inclination to swell during the day.

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