If you are familiar with the Environment Rating Scales, you may know that somewhere in each of the tools, it is expected that children have appropriate furnishings for them to engage with others while conducting play as well as eating. We as educators are aware of what size furnishings are appropriate for these children. We wouldn’t have a toddler sit in a school age chair because the toddler’s feet wouldn’t even touch the floor, and that toddler would have to use a climber to get into it. No, we don’t want that; climbing is for gross motor and wait! It doesn’t have an ASTMF-1292 cushioning under it.
Ok, I know, this article is not about safety, but in a way it is. It’s about taking care of your back— (well the spine actually) as you sit on chairs in your classroom or in your family childcare home while engaging with children.
Now, I would like you to take a look right now as you are sitting and reading this self-care article. Go ahead; look. What type of chair are you sitting in? Are you slouching? Are your legs in a comfortable position or are they wrapped around the chair like a snake hugging its predator? “Hmmm,” you say. I need to get up and find a better chair. Yes, please do that and see what Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST from Injury Specialist & Trauma Rehabilitation states below:
“Sitting postures can be the most difficult positions for the body to maintain. Improper sitting postures for prolonged periods of time while hunched over in a chair can build excessive pressure on the spine and affect the blood circulation in the legs. For an individual that spends their workdays sitting down, the long-term result of an improper posture can greatly alter the individual’s overall health.”
I know what you are thinking. “Well, I have to sit in chairs to engage with my children,” or “these low chairs are comfortable, I will be fine.” Ok, I heard it, I was also you once upon a time. Sometimes we as early childhood educators do what is best for our children in care but don’t do the same for ourselves. Although it may be difficult to take the following suggestions below while working in a classroom, please consider it when you are in the breakroom, in the office or at home. This information is for you to take care of yourself and your spine so that you can continue to take care of others.
Below are strategies taken from the American Chiropractic Association
*Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor
*Don’t cross your legs. Your ankle should be in front of your knees
*Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat
*Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips
*Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low-and mid-back or use a back support.
*Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.
*Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.