Backpack Tips for Students and Parents

Sophie Backpack
      What NOT To Do

With the school year beginning, now is a good time to review some of the tips offered by our friends at the AOTA regarding the proper use of the backpack.

Loading a Pack

  • A child’s backpack should weigh no more than about 15% of their body weight.   This means a student weighing 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a loaded school heavier than about 15 pounds.
  • Load the heaviest items closest to the child’s back (the back of the pack).
  • Arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around inside the backpack.
  • Check what your child carries to school and brings home.   Make sure the items are necessary for the day’s activities.
  • If the backpack is too heavy or tightly packed, your child can hand carry a book or other item outside the pack.
  • If the backpack is too heavy on a regular basis, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.

Wearing a Pack

  • Distribute weight evenly by using both straps.  Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
  • Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands when too much pressure is applied.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the child’s back.  A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles.
  • Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one.  This helps distribute the pack’s weight more evenly.
  • The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back. It should never rest more than four inches below the child’s waistline.
  • School backpacks come in different sizes for different ages. Choose the right size pack for your child’s back as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.