The average child grows 7 cm per year, so buying new furniture every year costs a lot of money. Especially for children whose spine is still developing at school age and is becoming increasingly immobile, it is important to pay attention to ergonomic seating. This is the only way to avoid misalignments that are difficult to adjust.

Headaches are often the result of sitting incorrectly

One out of five primary school pupils already suffer from back pain and headaches. This is not surprising when you consider that more than nine hours a day are spent sitting. As more and more homework and learning exercises are required, children are forced to sit at their desks a lot.

Muscles become cramped in the neck and shoulder area because of leaning forward, which in turn leads to annoying headaches. Ergonomic and dynamic furniture can help here. It supports correct sitting and the urge of your child to move.

Being hyperactive or is it just the wrong furniture?

Even young children spend a lot of time at their desks. Not only for doing homework and learning, but also for leisure activities such as painting and handicrafts. However, movement is necessary for healthy mental, psychological, and physical development. Our bodies need it, and this makes children restless. They slide around on the chair and find it difficult to concentrate. This restlessness is often misinterpreted as hyperactivity, but in most cases, it is only a sign of lack of movement.

Therefore, seating options that support movement and do not force children to sit rigidly are optimal. They have a positive influence on development, strengthen the back and thus lead to the first good grades.

Heavy school bags are often blamed for back problems

Rückengerechter Schreibtisch für Kinder

Picture: spass / fotolia.com

However, school bags are no problem if they get carried correctly. In most cases, the furniture is to blame for an incorrect sitting posture. Keep the time factor in mind! The backpack is carried for about 15 minutes a day, while most of the time is spent at the desk at school and at home.

If your child sits bent forward for a long time, only the front vertebral bodies are strained. This affects the growth of this part of the body. However, as the back vertebrae continue to develop, this results in what is known as a hunchback. This malposition can hardly be corrected and often leads to headaches and back pain even as adults.
But sitting does not only affect orthopaedic factors. Blood circulation is also impaired by sitting still all the time. Movement improves the blood supply to the brain and organs and thus ensures better cogitation and concentration.

What are the requirements for a child’s desk?

The desk is usually purchased when the child starts school. An appealing design should not be neglected so that children are happy to sit at it.

  • A safety mark (GS test seal) ensures that there is no risk of injury.
  • For the child’s health, the desk must grow with the child so that it can be adjusted to the child’s size at any time. Adjustment should be done quickly and easily.
  • It should be possible to tilt the work surface. Especially in the early years, the slanted tabletop makes reading and writing tasks much easier. It is important that there is a provision to prevent objects from slipping off.
  • The surface of the desk should be as large as possible. The standard width and depth are at least 110 cm and 60 cm. If the desk will be used for a longer period of time, choose a desk with a larger work surface.
  • The worktop should be bright and visually matt. Bright colours and shiny surfaces are distracting when painting and writing.

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Adjusting the height of the children’s desk correctly

According to the DIN/ISO standard, the desk should be adjusted as follows:

  • For a body height of 120 cm, the optimum desk height is 52 cm.
  • body height 135 cm – desk height 58 cm
  • body height 150 cm – desk height 64 cm
  • body height 165 cm – desk height 70 cm

However, please note that the adjustment should always be adapted to the needs of the child.

Requirements for the children’s chair

In order to guarantee the positive characteristics of the desk, the swivel chair must of course also match the desk. The chair and desk must form a unit.
When purchasing, you should pay attention to ergonomics, dynamics, safety, and quality. Accordingly, swivel chairs for children should provide the following features:

  • It is important that the chair can be adjusted to the size of the child.
  • The seat depth should also be adjustable, as not only the height but also the proportions of your child change.
  • The adjustment of the backrest should reach underneath the shoulder blades. The backrest must provide support and adapt to the shape of the spine without causing any pressure points.
  • The child’s chair should support the upright sitting posture as well as the need for movement. Therefore, a swivel chair should be preferred.

In addition to health-related factors, children’s swivel chairs should also be safe and stable.
Therefore, when buying, you should look for a solid cross with five or even six arms. This makes the swivel chair stable enough.

An important aspect is the rolling resistance for your child’s safety. Swivel chairs that roll away easily are dangerous. When sitting down, the chair rolls away backwards and your child will end up on the floor and may get hurt. To prevent this situation, the chair should be equipped with load-dependent braked castors.

Setting the correct height for a child’s swivel chair

The DIN/ISO standard provides guidelines for adjustment:

  • body size 135 cm – seat height 34 cm – seat depth 33 cm
  • body size 150 cm – seat height 38 cm – seat depth 36 cm
  • body size 165 cm – seat height 42 cm – seat depth 38 cm

These values are general guidelines and an orientation for the adjustment.
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Optimal sitting position for a children’s swivel chair

  • Please note the following: Your child’s knee height corresponds to the seat height.
  • The feet are placed on the ground.
  • The angle of the upper and lower leg is at least 90 degrees.
  • The tabletop should be just below the elbows, with the upper arms hanging loosely.
  • The angle of the upper and lower arm also needs to be at least 90 degrees. To keep this position, double-check at least every six months.
  • Make sure that your child does not cross his or her legs.
  • The feet should be placed firmly on the floor. This way, the body automatically adopts a healthy posture, and the strain is equally balanced.

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The benefits of adjustable furniture

You may have noticed that there are high demands on children’s furniture. In addition to dynamic, ergonomic sitting, safety and quality are also indispensable. However, since the seating furniture can grow until being an adult, it is sufficient to purchase high-quality furniture only once. Therefore, pay attention to all features and choose carefully.

The post "Back health of kids and teens: furniture that grows with them" written by:

Sophie Voigtländer

Expertin für Bürogestaltung und Ergonomie

Sophie arbeitet seit Anfang 2021 bei Büromöbel Experte und ist hauptsächlich für die Übersetzung aller möglichen Texte in die englische Sprache zuständig.

Sie hat Internationale Kommunikation und Übersetzen studiert.

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