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Back to school time means new shoes, uniforms and a new school bag. Backpacks can be tricky. Many schools allow only certain bags, but when the choice is left up to students looks is often more important than function. Your child’s school backpack will probably be the hardest-working item in your back to school shopping list. Carrying a backpack over the course of a school year shapes your growing child’s back and determines their posture. The school bag will be used every day to take items to and from school. It needs to withstand daily use including traveling to and from school, locker storage, and the rough treatment that children dish out on their belongings.

For growing kids, guidelines recommend that a packed schoolbag should weigh no more than 10% of a child’s body weight.

For a 40–50kg high school student, 10% of their body weight is 4 to 5kg. By the time you add in textbooks, laptop, notepads, a pencil case, lunchbox, water bottle, sports gear and project work, a tiny five kilos is a tough limit to keep to.

A locker takes some of the load off once your kid arrives at school, but a good, strong backpack is still a must-have.

School bags tend to get overstuffed. As soon as your kids hit high school, they can have up to 10 books to carry around at any one time. Make sure you get a bag that is large enough to fit all of them in, along with their pencil case, calculator, lunch, water bottle and any other essentials they might need throughout the school day.

Top School Bags

When choosing a school backpack for your child, look out for these 7 key features:

  1. The backpack is an appropriate size for your child. Don’t buy a backpack so that they can grow into it. Backpacks should not be wider than your child’s chest width.
  2. The backpack has two wide straps over the shoulders.
  3. The backpack has a hip strap and/or waist strap.
  4. All straps on the backpack are adjustable and padded.
  5. The backpack as separate compartments for load distribution.
  6. The backpack has a padded back and moulded frame.
  7. Choose a backpack for comfort rather than looks.

    Take some time to choose a good quality bag, one that will not only last but will provide your child with the support needed to ensure a healthy back and spine.

Aside from using the appropriate school bag, other simple strategies can help your child maintain a healthy spinal column, such as doing regular physical activities and maintaining a good posture.

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Remember that the strength and capacity to carry weight is not determined by your child’s height and that the choice of a school bag is as important as how it is carried!