Your child's school bag, healthy or not? | Bangkok Post: learning

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Your child's school bag, healthy or not?

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Heavy school bags can cause lasting damage: rounded shoulders, curvature of spine & risk of falling down and getting hurt. 


The burden of knowledge

As the new school term starts, the old headache of overloaded backpacks has returned to haunt students and parents alike

Napamon Roongwitoo & Yvonne Bohwongprasert


Pannee's eight-year-old daughter, who weighs only 18kg, goes to a private school in Bangkok, which has a strict policy about leaving books at school.

"The school does not allow students to leave more than eight books at school for two reasons: to prevent theft and to encourage students to read more at home," says Pannee. "The teachers explained that if the books are left at school, the students won't read at home. They even check the students' desks to see who leaves more than the allowed number, and those students will be punished. That means my daughter has to carry two heavy bags to school - a normal briefcase-style school bag which is mandatory, and an extra tote bag to fit in all the books and other things like art equipment and gym clothes."

The weight of her daughter's school bag varies - on those days when she has a lot of homework or has gym class, she has to carry up to 6kg... The sight of small students weighed down by heavy schoolbags has been around for at least a generation.... Nowadays, some children are seen going to school with air hostess-style trolleys, which does seem like a good solution - but they still have to lug the trolleys up the stairs at school.

Research by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce revealed that Prathom 5 students carry an average 6kg bag to school. The reasons for such a heavy load are various, from the amount of homework and the lack of lockers at school to the students' poor planning....

"My daughter only weighs 20kg, but her bag is as big, and probably as heavy, as the one used by a 17-year-old who weighs two or three times more," said one concerned mother....

The things a child carries to school typically include a set of 24 colour pencils for art class, swimming gear and gym clothes, on top of a dozen books plus stationery resulting in a bag that weighs about 4-5kg, or 20-25% of her body weight, while experts say that ideally the weight should not be more than 10% of one's body weight. As the children move up the schoolyear, the things they need to carry also increase. Some have to bring a laptop or a tablet, a musical instrument or a tennis racquet. Tutoring classes after school mean even more books.

Carrying a heavy weight can lead to an array of health problems, from poor blood circulation and chronic shoulder, neck and back pain to spine injuries. Some doctors have pointed out that while an overloaded backpack does not directly lead to scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine to the sides), incorrect posture, such as using only one strap of a heavy backpack, can possibly lead to the spine being bent. While there is as yet no direct evidence, it has been said that carrying a heavy backpack for a long period of time can interfere with a growing child's height.

Heavy school bags can cause lasting damage. Among the problems parents and schools are risking by not paying more attention to this issue are back pains, the threat of rounded shoulders and curvature of the spine not to mention the risk of injuries through falling as they can affect a student's balance.


Here are a few tips on how to carry a school bag in a health-friendly way

- Backpacks should not weigh more than 10% of one's body weight. If it feels too heavy, use an extra tote bag and carry it by hand. Alternate the side you are carrying the bag on every now and then in order to avoid overusing one side of the body.

- Pack smart. When packing a bag, try to distribute the weight evenly to avoid postural stress. The heaviest items should be placed closest to the back, and the lighter ones outside.

- For a backpack, always use both straps. If possible, choose a backpack with a waist belt to help distribute the weight. The backpack should feel snug, not hang loose.

- For a hand-held school bag, always alternate hands. A soft pad should be placed around the handles.

- Some parents have resorted to having a second set of textbooks at home so that the child doesn't have to carry all the books home regularly. While this option is not for everyone, it is something to consider.

- Always ask your child whether she feels fine with the weight she is carrying. If she complains about any pain, especially if the pain is severe or persistent, you should consult a paediatrician.

Learn from listening

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abnormal: not usual or typical - ผิดปกติ ไม่ธรรมดา

alike: true for both of them -

allow: to let somebody/something do something; to let something happen or be done - อนุญาต, ยอมรับ

alternately: happening or following one after the other regularly - ซึ่งสลับกัน,ในตำแหน่งที่สลับกัน

array: a group or collection of things or people, often one that is large or impressive - การจัดเรียง, ขบวน

attention: the interest or thought that you give to something you are doing, listening to or watching - ความสนใจ, ความตั้งใจ

average: ordinary; not unusual or different in any way - ธรรมดา, ปกติ

avoid: to try to prevent something from happening - หลีกเลี่ยง

backpack: a large bag, often supported on a light metal frame, carried on the back and used especially by people who go climbing or walking - เป้สะพายหลัง, กระเป๋าสะพายหลัง

balance: the ability to keep steady with an equal amount of weight on each side - ความสมดุล, การทรงตัว

bent: caused something to curve - โค้ง

briefcase: a flat case used for carrying papers and documents - กระเป๋าหิ้ว, กระเป๋าหิ้วใส่เอกสารdeposit to put money into a bank account ฝากเงิน (ทางการธนาคาร)

burden: a serious or difficult responsibility that you have to deal with - ภาระ

chamber of commerce: a group of local business people who work together to help business and trade in a particular town - หอการค้า

chronic: (of a disease or pain) serious and lasting for a long time - เป็นประจำ

complain: to say that you are annoyed, unhappy or not satisfied about somebody/something - บ่น, ร้องทุกข์

concerned: worried about something   - มีความกังวล

consider: to give careful thought to something before making a decision - พิจารณา

consult: to ask for information or advice from someone - หารือ

damage: to harm or spoil something/somebody - ทำความเสียหาย

direct: going straight to a place (not "going to other places first" which is "indirect") - ตรงไป, ไม่เบี่ยงเบน

distribute weight: spread weight over greater area ,to reduce stress -

encourage: to cause someone to want to do something - กระตุ้น ให้การสนับสนุน

equipment: the things that are needed for a particular purpose or activity - อุปกรณ์, เครื่องมือ

evidence: facts, signs or objects that make you believe that something is true - หลักฐาน,ข้อแสดง

expert: someone who has a particular skill or who knows a lot about a particular subject - ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ

extra: more than is usual, expected, or than exists already - เหนือกว่า

gear: the special clothes or equipment that you use for a particular activity - อุปกรณ์ ในการทำกิจกรรมต่างๆ

generation: a time period of 20 years -

gym: gymnasium, a place to exercise and play sports - โรงพลศึกษา, โรงกีฬา, โรงกายกรรม

handle: the part of an object, such as a cup, a bag, or a tool that you use to hold it, or carry it; the part of a door, drawer, window, etc. that you use to open it - ที่จับ, ที่ถือ

haunt: to cause repeated trouble, suffering or anxiety - ทำให้กังวล, รบกวน

headache: a person or thing that causes worry or trouble - ปัญหา

injury: physical damage done to a person or a part of their body - อาการบาดเจ็บ

interfere: to deliberately become involved in a situation and try to influence the way that it develops, although you have no right to do this - แทรกแซง

issue: a problem that needs to be considered - ประเด็น

knowledge: all the facts that people know about a subject (example: medical knowledge) - ความรู้

lack of: when there is not enough of something - ขาด

lasting: continuing to exist or have an effect for a long time - ที่กินเวลานาน

light: not heavy - เบา,ไม่หนัก

load: the goods that a vehicle or boat carries - ของบรรทุก

lug: to carry heavy thing with difficulty -

mandatory: ordered by a law or rule - ตามข้อบังคับ

neck: the part of the body between the head and the shoulders - ลำคอ (อวัยวะ), คอ

normal: typical, usual or ordinary; what you would expect - ปกติ, ภาวะปกติ

not to mention: in addition; also -

now and then: do sometimes, do occasionally; now and then, at times; every now and then - บางครั้งบางคราว, บางที, บางครั้ง, บางโอกาส

option: a choice; something that you can choose in a particular situation - ทางเลือก

overloaded: having too great a load or weight on something - บรรทุกเกินพิกัด

pack: to put clothes, etc. into a bag in preparation for a trip away from home - เก็บเสื้อผ้าลงหีบ

paediatrician: a doctor who has special training in medical care for children - กุมารแพทย์, หมอเด็ก, แพทย์รักษาโรคเด็ก

pay attention: to watch, listen to, or consider something or someone very carefully - เอาใจใส่, สนใจ

persistent: continuing - อย่างต่อเนื่อง, เรื่อยไป, ติดต่อกัน, ตลอดเวลา

point out: to mention something in order to give somebody information about it or make them notice it - ชี้ให้เห็น, บ่งชี, ชี้, ระบุ

policy: a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group - นโยบาย

posture: position of the body, e.g., sitting, standing, walking, etc. - ท่าทาง เช่น ท่านั่ง ท่ายืน

prevent: to stop somebody from doing something; to stop something from happening - ขัดขวาง, กัน, กีดขวาง

punish: to make somebody suffer because they have broken the law or done something wrong - ทำโทษ

racquet: a piece of sports equipment used for hitting the ball, etc. in the games of tennis, squash or badminton. It has an oval frame, with strings stretched across and down it - ไม้ตีลูกในการเล่นกีฬา (เช่น เทนนิส, แบดมินตัน ฯลฯ)

reason: why something happened or exists - เหตุผล

regularly: done or happening often, especially with the same time and space in between each activity and the next - เป็นประจำ, เสมอๆ

research: a careful study of a subject, especially in order to discover new facts or information about it - การวิจัย

resort to: to do something extreme or unpleasant in order to solve a problem - ใช้มาตรการรุนแรงในการแก้ปัญหา ยุติปัญหา

result in: cause to happen -

revealed: made known or showed somthing that was surprising or that was previously secret - เปิดเผย

risk: the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen - ความเสี่ยง

severe: very serious and unpleasant - รุนแรง

shoulder: one of the two parts of your body between your neck and the top of your arms - ไหล่

sighting: an occasion when somebody sees somebody/something, especially something unusual or something that lasts for only a short time - โอกาสที่จะได้เห็น

solution: a way of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation - วิธีแก้ปัญหา

spine: the row of small bones that are connected together down the middle of the back - กระดูกสันหลัง

stationery: the items needed for writing, such as paper, pens, pencils and envelopes - เครื่องเขียน

strap: a strip of leather, cloth or other material that is used to fasten something, keep something in place, carry something or hold onto something - สายหนัง, สายรัด, สายหิ้ว

strict: demanding that rules are obeyed; very careful and exact - เข้มงวด

tablet computer: a small light-weight computer device shaped like a book; e.g, iPad, Galaxy Tab, etc. -

term: a period of time for which something lasts; a fixed or limited time - ระยะเวลาที่กำหนด

textbook: a book that teaches a particular subject and that is used especially in schools and colleges - หนังสือเรียน, ตำรับตำรา

theft: (the act of) dishonestly taking something which belongs to someone else and keeping it - การลักขโมย

threat: a danger - อันตราย

tip: a small piece of advice about something practical - คำแนะนำ

tote: to carry something, especially something heavy or difficult to carry - ยกหรือถือสิ่งของ โดยเฉพาะสิ่งของที่หนักหรือยากต่อการเคลื่อนย้าย

trolley: a large container with wheels that you push and use for carrying things in a supermarket or at an airport - รถเข็น

tutor: a teacher, especially one with special duties - ครูพิเศษ, ครูสอน,

typically: usually; normally - อย่างเป็นแบบฉบับ

university: a school where students study for BA, MA, MS and PhD degrees and where research is done - มหาวิทยาลัย

various: several different - หลากหลาย, ซึ่งแตกต่างกัน

vary: to be different in different situations - ปรวนแปร, เปลี่ยนแปลง, แตกต่าง

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