Advanced search

Get £10 off your first lesson with Mumsnet-Rated tutoring service Tutorful here

Heavy schoolbags and back problems!

(23 Posts)
releasethehounds Fri 17-Jun-11 22:38:38

Not sure if this should be under the Health topic but here goes...

I'm currently having an ongoing argument with DD1 (12) who is in Year 7 of secondary school. Before she started at this school she chose a backpack-style schoolbag which I then bought for her. I also hired a locker at school for her to use.

Over time I've noticed that the schoolbag is getting progressively heavier and (due to the fact I have had a slipped disc and sciatica over the last 12 months) I no longer pick up said bag in case it aggravates my back problem. God knows what she keeps in her locker, but she insists she does use it. She walks to and from school everyday (only about 1 mile journey each way) and also has to carry the bag from lesson to lesson throughout the day. I have tried to convince her to take only what books she needs for each day and leave the rest at home, but she's worried that homework may be called in on an unexpected day (this has happened in the past) and she will get a detention if she doesn't have it with her.

My main concern is this - DD is now saying that 'EVERYONE' has a one-shoulder bag for school and she's the only one still with a backpack. If all these children are carrying what feels like a barrel of bricks over one shoulder all day, in 20 years' time we're going to see a lot of young people with severe back problems. There is a poster of this problem in my osteopath's waiting room describing the risks of schoolchildren carrying heavy loads on one shoulder and the potential injuries this will cause.

I have explained all this to DD and have insisted that she can only have a backpack for school, not a one-shoulder number just so she can be the same as 'everyone else'.

Are the schools not concerned with the risks or do any mumsnetters have DCs that use the one-shoulder bags? I'd be interested to hear other opinions as I'm thinking of contacting DD's school to ask if they can make a recommendation to their pupils about having the correct schoolbags for their health. This of course will make me the worst mom ever in DD's book, but I'm getting past caring about teen angst!


seimum Fri 17-Jun-11 22:52:57

I always insisted on my DCs having backpacks.

DD2 did once buy a one-sholder bag with her own money, but it broke after a few months so she went back to the backpack.

However, most other girls seemed to have the 'one-shoulder' type - though generally they are not as capacious as backpacks, so they can't be filled with quite so many books etc.

Even when kids wear backpacks, the other problem was getting them to wear them with the straps properly adjusted, as the fashion seemed to be to have the straps as long as possible.

DD2 uses a one-shoulder bag in the 6th form, but she doesn't have so many books any more

zeolite Fri 17-Jun-11 23:31:52

If you can, convince DD of a wheeled rucsac (with optional little bag for valuables), and arsenal of repartee for any cute comments about holidays (e.g. haha know a good osteopath? you'll need to check out the local infirmary's back-care clinic etc) The wheeled ones also avoid incorrect adjustment of rucsac straps.

Oh and promise that next time you're on holiday she can have a full-grained leather 'Hermes/Prada/Miu Miu' shopper from the local market stall for sixth form, much cheaper than Cath Kidson cloth bags.

generalhaig Sat 18-Jun-11 08:13:23

The problem is teens' fear of ridicule and desire to fit in is much stronger than their concern about possible future back problems...

Ds1 knows a couple of boys ( not at his school) who use the wheeled rucksacks and they have the piss royally ripped out of them ...

It's something I worry about for ds2 as he is hyper mobile and has v unstable shoulder joints and can't carry heavy loads, but he is already a prime bullying target and I my dilemma is I don't want him to stick out even more

camptownraces Sat 18-Jun-11 12:48:57

No, sorry - wheeled rucksacks are dangerous in schools. They cause dreadful congestion on the stairs between lessons, kids then jump queues, and slip on stairs or even fall over banisters. Some schools ban them, quite rightly in my view.

The bags become so heavy only because they are crammed with many more books than are actually needed for the session ahead. Some children carry ALL their books all the time. It's a result of the huge temptation to spend break chatting with your friends (wouldn't we all?) rather than returning to your locker to swap over the books for the next part of the day.

Back packs are not a brilliant idea for those with poor spatial awareness - they tend to turn without thinking of the size/weight on their backs, whacking their next door neighbours.

Carrying less is the only answer.

thumbwitch Sat 18-Jun-11 12:55:41

I can only reiterate what your osteopath's poster says really - I spent years lugging all my stuff around in a sports bag, although the worst of it was at University, where we didn't have lockers and the text books were that much heavier. Owing to a shoulder injury, I always had my bag on my right shoulder and ended up twisting and tilting my pelvis as I used my R hip to help support the bag; this gave me a couple of unnatural curves in my spine and caused me to be very stiff as my back muscles tried to keep me upright. By the time I was 30, I was a complete mess and have needed a LOT of osteopathy to get me straight and in working order again. I also grew half an inch! 10+ years on and I still need regular treatment as I spent so long out of kilter that my bod is easily "put out" again. sad

It's a loony situation and I don't know what to suggest in terms of how to persuade your DD to carry less - if you need it, you need it - but she has to keep the backpack and wear it properly. Wearing it incorrectly is more damaging than a single strap bag in some ways, the drag on the chest and the shoulders is shocking.

thumbwitch Sat 18-Jun-11 12:57:02

Here's an idea - how about investing in a Kindle for her and getting all her school books on that? If possible? That would cut the weight down enormously - ditto for generalhaig's DS.

releasethehounds Sun 19-Jun-11 10:55:43

Thanks for all the replies - I couldn't come on MN yesterday (v. hectic day). I'll have a good read of all your replies later and come back to you. Sounds like there's no easy answer to this one.

Thanks again.

RustyBear Sun 19-Jun-11 11:00:15

You do realise that she will actually be carrying the backpack by one strap on her shoulder when she's at school? She will only have it properly on her back for the few minutes when she is in your sight going & coming home.

releasethehounds Sun 19-Jun-11 13:43:02

Yes, RustyBear - that thought had crossed my mind! Today I'm going to go through her schoolbag with her and try to take out some of the crap schoolbooks which she may not need tomorrow. Also, I'm going to check how the backpack sits on her back and adjust the straps accordingly. Wish me luck!

What does anyone think about the idea of approaching the school about this?

justagirlfromedgware Sun 19-Jun-11 15:25:02

I feel your pain (literally). My DS carries a ton of stuff and his locker is the other side of the school to where most of his classrooms are (they're allocated randomly. Why?). The textbooks are way too heavy. I managed to persuade him to 'allow' me to buy him a duplicate maths book, but that doesn't solve the problem with the other workbooks, school-written books, PE kit (they have to turn up with it all, winter or summer). Very aggravating.

I've raised it with the school's Pastoral Care Manager who maintains that he should organise himself and his locker better, but this doesn't help the fundamental problem that even half a day's load is too much and that in the rush to catch the school bus he hasn't time to offload the extraneous weight at the end of each day. So even if he was better organised (and he could be), this isn't his fault or is it a problem easily solved, unless the school starts putting textbooks online, with copies kept in the classroom, for classwork, for example.

Some days I can barely lift his bag myself and I'm (ahem) much bigger than him.

Rant over. But any solid propositions I could pass on to the school would be gratefully received. (I hope this isn't seen as a thread takeover bid!)

GnomeDePlume Sun 19-Jun-11 15:30:16

Do go through her bag with her. DD2 (year 6) has the habit of adding to her bag through the week. I am constantly amazed by what she considers necessary to take to school (think encyclopedias etc).

DS (year 7) has his planner, lunch and just what exercise books he needs for that day.

releasethehounds Sun 19-Jun-11 18:24:19

Well, we have gone through the schoolbag this afternoon and have managed to significantly decrease the weight of the bag! DD now has to be more disciplined and make sure she only takes to school what she needs for each day (as you mention Gnome). I have also allocated her a cupboard at home in which to keep the stuff she doesn't need to take in, which she'll have to go through every night and add to her bag, if necessary. It all sounds so logical in theory, so we'll see how it goes. I have also insisted that, if she must sometimes carry the weight over one shoulder, she should use both left and right in turn.

justagirl - it sounds like you have been very proactive with this problem re: the school. Whilst I know children have to be more organised (and to DD's credit, she is anyway) I agree with you that the schools put pressure on them to lug all this stuff around: schoolbag, lunchbox, sun cream, extra water bottle, full PE kit, swimming kit - the list goes on...

Don't worry about the thread takeover - we'll stumble through this one together! That phrase more or less sums up parenting to me.

WhatsWrongWithYou Sun 19-Jun-11 18:54:14

I'm similar to Thumbwitch; distorted spine with tilted pelvis/curve to one side/stiff upper spine - basically scoliosis and its associated pain daily.
(In fact, would you mind if I PM-ed you, Thumb?)

In my case, the regular pain started after I had DS1, but I think the disfigurement starts in adolescence; it was the extra strain of carrying a solid over-10lbs lump up and down the carpet for hours on end that exacerbated it.

I did carry an over-shoulder bag all through secondary school, and now wince when I see my DCs and their heavy loads. So far (fingers crossed) they've stuck with backpacks, but it's always going to be an issue I know.

I think the only solution will come when textbooks can be referred to online, as someone said. Not sure if that's pending in the near future.

roisin Sun 19-Jun-11 19:24:37

Releasethehounds - that sounds like a good strategy.

ds1 had a locker in yr7, but with ds2 I never bothered. Most of the day seems to be spent dashing from one lesson to the next, or to the queue for lunch or hurrying to lunchtime activities, then running to catch the bus at the end of the day. They don't have time to go back and get stuff out of their lockers.

But getting into a habit of going through their bags every night and just taking what they need for school the next day, can significantly help. To help motivate towards this, it can help to buy a smaller bag, then they simply can't fit so much in.

My boys have 6 different lessons every day in KS3 and 15 different subjects in total. I'm anticipating that next year when ds1 is in KS4 he will have more double lessons, so fewer subjects each day. (Though he may have bulkier files/folders and so on for those lessons.)

generalhaig Sun 19-Jun-11 20:08:29

unfortunately the school ds2 is going to in September doesn't have lockers so they have to carry everything round with them all day

ds1 does have a locker but it's the on the other side of his school so he never uses it ... if he has a couple of science lessons, plus maths, Latin, history and PE just the weight of his essential text books alone is phenomenal

unfortunately you can't get most textbooks in ebook form - I can't wait until they're all available on something like an ipad - in fact I think that's probably one of the biggest potential markets for tablet devices but I"m not sure if it'll happen in time for my dc ...

GnomeDePlume Sun 19-Jun-11 23:09:53

DH has suggested an alternative - tell her to get a boyfriend! DD1's boyfriend carries his bag and hers! Thankfully he is a strapping rugby player type.

thumbwitch Sun 19-Jun-11 23:44:15

WhatsWrongWithYou - please do PM me if you want to smile (Sorry, I'm in Australia so was asleep when you wrote that)

thumbwitch Sun 19-Jun-11 23:46:09

Who would one have to contact to discuss putting books in e-format - the publishers? Or the reader-manufacturers? Either way, they're missing out on a massive market!

RustyBear Mon 20-Jun-11 06:56:00

There's a link on Amazon book pages to suggest to the publisher that you'd like to see a particular book on Kindle - Amazon say they will pass it on - aybe if enough people suggested enough text books something might happen...

3littlefrogs Mon 20-Jun-11 07:05:51

Dd's school doesn't have lockers. Unfortunately if you don't carry stuff around all day it gets pinched.

Also, teachers have a habit of asking for homework, or setting work on the wrong days, so it is a case of lugging everything about all the time.

It gets worse when you factor in the musical instruments and the food on food technology days..............

releasethehounds Mon 20-Jun-11 10:46:01

Gnome - no boyfriends yet please - she's only 12! However, your DH's comment takes me back to carefree days when one boy did used to carry my bag home from school for a while (daydreams for a while).

3littlefrogs - you are so right about the handing in homework thing and the extra-curricular stuff - it just goes on and on ...

lljkk Mon 20-Jun-11 10:52:22

What about these one-strap style backpacks, are they any better?

Didn't someone say their DC had an Animal backpack, is that cool enough to allow 2 straps?

I would not want my 12yo to be responsible for a Kindle <<Shudder>>.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: