Home :: Students and Parents :: FAQs :: Backpack Strategies
FAQs - Backpack Strategies
Loading a Backpack
- Load heaviest items closest to the student’s back (the back of the pack).
- Arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around in the backpack.
- Check what the student carries to school and brings home. Make sure your child only brings items that are necessary for that day’s instruction and activities.
- Your student may hand carry a book or other item.
- Consider using a rolling backpack
Wearing a Backpack
- Both shoulder straps should always be worn. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a person 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 to the back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the student 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 4 inches below the student’s waistline.
- School backpacks come in different sizes for different ages. Choose the right size pack for your student’s back as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.
Helping Your Child With Backpacks
Q: What are schools doing to help students lighten their backpacks?
A: While the weight of textbooks and backpacks is a national issue, the Elk Grove Unified School District is taking steps to help students lighten their backpacks.
The following are some examples of what schools are doing to address this issue:
- Coordinating schedules so that students alternate which textbooks they need to bring each day.
- Informing students which days they need to bring textbooks to school.
- Allowing students to store backpacks in their classrooms during lunch.
- Allowing students to leave their textbooks in the class if they are not needed for homework.
Q: What is the district doing to help students with backpacks?
A: The district is taking an active role to work with publishers and the Legislature to address this issue. These efforts include writing legislation that, if approved, would require publishers to provide additional CD-ROM's for students; meeting with publishers to request that they provide on-line access to some secondary textbooks as early as this year; and speaking at legislative and other hearings to require publishers to provide textbooks on CD-ROM and to set weight limits on textbooks.
The curriculum department is developing a lesson on how to teach middle school students how to properly wear backpacks. The lesson, which will include an instructional video, will be given as appropriate in either health, science, or physical education classes. The lessons also be provided to sixth grade students next spring to prepare them for middle school.
The district is also embarking on a backpack awareness campaign to inform parents and students on how to pack and wear backpacks in a way that provides the best support.
Q: What can I do to help my child with his/her backpack?
A: The district has prepared a flier on how students should load and wear a backpack. The flier is available on the district’s website and at schools. Following are some helpful tips, as recommended by the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.:
- Students are encouraged to use rolling backpacks.
- The heaviest items should be loaded closest to the back of the backpack (toward the student’s back.)
- Backpacks should always be worn using both shoulder straps.
- Select a backpack with well-padded shoulder straps.
- Adjust the shoulder straps so that the backpack fits snugly on the student’s back. The bottom of the backpack should rest on the curve of the lower back no more than 4-inches below the student’s waistline.
- Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one.
Select a backpack that is the right size for the student.
Q: What else can be done to help lighten the backpacks?
A: Many times students will bring all of their textbooks and notebooks to school every day because they want to be well prepared for class. Students are encouraged to ask their teachers at the beginning of the school year or semester what they should bring to class every day so that they can eliminate some of the textbooks and other items they need every day.
Parents are also encouraged to talk to their children to see if they can limit the personal belongings in their backpacks.
Q: What are the options if my child has a medical condition?
A: The district will provide a second set of textbooks to students who have a written note from a medical doctor or a chiropractor stating that the student should not be carrying textbooks in a backpack.