Good posture is becoming harder to find nowadays. It makes sense because over the last century we have moved away from an industrial and agricultural society to an information-based one. Now, hunched over our desks and computers, our perfect postures are slowly eroding into slouched hunchbacks.
But ironically, societal assumptions haven’t changed that much. People with good posture are still assumed to have grown up intelligent, educated, and wealthy. They look successful, confident, and alert. As it turns out, good posture is important – and not just for the way that others perceive you. According to the Ririan Project, good posture has many physical benefits. It allows you to breathe better, improves your circulation and digestion, helps your muscles and joints, maintains a healthy spine, and even improves your frame of mind.
Having good posture – and the physical benefits mentioned above – may also turn out to be good for students. A positive frame of mind makes learning easier, and active brains definitely need good circulation and plenty of oxygen.
More schools are starting to explore ergonomic furniture and even yoga balls to help their students learn. Research suggests that physical activity improves learning. The yoga balls engage the lower body, causing the body to make small adjustments to maintain its balance. These small movements stimulate both hemispheres of the brain, which improves the students’ memories and helps them to focus. For fidgety children, the yoga balls are a valuable tool for academic success.
So what can you as a parent do to improve your child’s posture? Consider these five tips:
1. Be conscious of good posture
As they say, “Awareness is half the battle.” Make good posture a priority and soon your child will become more tuned in to his or her own body and how they are sitting or standing.
2. Praise your child
Children need positive reinforcement. When you see your child standing up straight, tell your son how tall he looks, or compliment your daughter on how grown up and mature she appears. Soon your child will be motivated to stand straight all the time.
3. Lead by example
Encourage your child by having good posture yourself! If you have a desk job, your posture may have deteriorated without you realizing it. So be conscious of your own stance.
4. Try yoga or tai-chi
Activities like yoga and tai-chi place a lot of emphasis on body awareness and movement. Many of the salutations and other positions require a straight spine to allow for deep breaths and proper extension. If your child is too self-conscious to join a class, pick up some videos to do at home. Don’t worry about him being too young; you can even find DVD programs on yoga for kids!
5. Enroll your child in ballet
Have you ever seen a ballerina who walks around slouching? Me neither.
6. Play a game
Take a page from My Fair Lady and have your child balance a book on her head, then walk around the house without dropping it. This is impossible to do when your head is tilting forward or backward!
7. Invest in ergonomic furniture
Learning is always easier with the right tools. There are a few companies that are carrying ergonomic furniture that promote good posture, like PostureInStyle and Kidsomania. And if you can’t find any you like or that are in your price range? Don’t forget, there’s always the yoga ball.
Monica Olivera Hazelton, NBC Latino contributor and the founder and publisher of MommyMaestra.com, a site for Latino families that homeschool, as well as families with children in a traditional school setting who want to take a more active role in their children’s education. She is the 2011 winner of the “Best Latina Education Blogger” award by LATISM.