As students head back to school this fall, they have to get used carrying a full backpack again.
Textbooks, notebooks, assignment planner and binders can quickly weigh down even the strongest student.
Jonathan Olson of said parents should keep an eye on how much their children—especially those who are still growing—are carrying to school.
“Kids should carry no more than 10 to 15 percent of their body weight,” Olson said.
All the things students carry to school can add up quickly.
“You’re talking about kids who sometimes weigh 50 pounds, carrying a 20-pound backpack.”
In order to tell if their kids are carrying too much, parents need to listen to what kids say and watch how they act.
“Complaints from the kids will be back pain and headaches,” Olson said. “Watch their posture. If they pick up their backpack and grimace, you know there’s a problem”
Olson recommends that parents ensure their children have a backpack that is the right size and fits. They also should use both straps.
“Sometimes it becomes uncool to wear it as it should be, but that’s the safest way to carry a backpack.”
Sometimes though, students have to carry around a number of textbooks because of the classes they are taking.
“If you have a school that’s ridiculous, try to secure a set of books for at school and secure a second set of books for at home.”
Many schools however, say they’ve successfully avoided backpacks that are too heavy.
"Our policy at the middle school is that all backpacks go into student lockers when they arrive at school and remain there until the end of the day,” said Brian Zambreno, principal at .
“We ask that students carry a three-ring binder with a planner to all classes in addition to whatever textbook they might need for that class. We also have our team teachers try to coordinate homework and projects so that kids aren't needing to take too many things home at the same time.”
Students at and the district's elementary schools also are not allowed to carry their backpacks in between classes.
Instead, students have five minutes between classes, which gives them plenty of time to stop by their lockers, said Shakopee East principal John Paul Jacobson.
For parents seeking more information on backpack safety, the American Occupational Therapy Association offers more information on their website.
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