Ergonomics is about creating an efficient work environment that encourages productivity and is comfortable and safe to use. Creating smart spaces for children to work in requires ensuring they have the right furniture and lighting.
Most office furniture is made for adults and children who use incorrectly sized furniture are at risk of developing stress injuries, such as strained eyes and tight muscles in their hands and back. When creating smart spaces for children to work in, make sure that the furnishings are suitable for their age and size. This is especially important if your child is being homeschooled and does online training.
Read about the importance of good posture and how to help your child achieve it from a young age.
Setting up smart spaces for children
Desks and chairs
- Your toddler doesn’t need their own desk yet. Toddlers can use your table or kitchen counter. But they do need a big enough area to work on and a chair that offers the right support.
- Consider purchasing a toddler-sized table and chairs for a toddlers’ room.
- Your child needs a chair that suits their needs and size. Choose one that allows them to rest their feet on the floor. Alternatively, get a footrest. Feet and ankles should be at a 90 degree angle, as should the knees and thighs, and hips and thighs.
- The chair should support the upper and lower back. If your child is too small, place a pillow or rolled towel at the back of the chair to support their lower back.
- Make sure the chair is high enough so that your child’s elbows are at 90 degrees and arms are close to the body and wrists are relaxed.
- A desk must also be the right height and size for your child’s needs.
- Items that are used frequently should be within easy reach to avoid straining for something. This may mean moving the keyboard and mouse closer. For younger children, you may need to get a trackball or smaller mouse and a child-sized keyboard.
- The monitor should be at, or just below, eye level to keep the head level while minimising the glare from the screen. It should also be straight in front of your child, about 45 to 50 centimetres away.
Convenience and flexibility
- If your child uses your workstation, make sure everything is easily adjustable to their size. Try placing the keyboard on a pull-out shelf, having an additional chair nearby or keeping a back pillow and footrest on hand.
- When a child has to work at the table or kitchen counter, keep all of their homework and art supplies in a basket that can be placed within easy reach when they are working.
- Cubby holes, storage boxes and shelving make work accessible, while keeping the area clutter-free.
- You may also want to include a wall calendar, pin board or black board on which your child can make notes and keep a schedule.
- Make sure the area gets enough light and air.
Their own space
As your child gets older, sitting in a communal area may prove distracting. You can either set up a desk in their room, or adapt your own desk to accommodate their needs.
Older children and teenagers are probably going to want their own space in which to work and their own computer.
Ask your child to help design and set up their work space, so you can adjust everything to their needs and size. It will also help them to see the area as theirs