Find the Right Desk for Children

Children’s desks and chairs should be adjusted to the offspring’s height. After all, this is where students spend a lot of time and should sit correspondingly healthy. Here we tell you how to find the ideal learning, crafting, and painting place.

Robust, adjustable, ergonomic, chic - the children's desk must meet some requirements. Like this solid wood model, for example. Our buying guide tells you how to design the right desk for your children
Robust, adjustable, ergonomic, chic – the children’s desk must meet some requirements. Like this solid wood model, for example. Our buying guide tells you how to design the right desk for your children.
Photo: Team7

Many first graders receive a beautiful school bag and pouch for the start of school and a desk and matching chair. But which desk is the right one for your child? We want furniture that is functional, ergonomically correct, free of harmful substances, durable, and beautifully designed. For children’s desks, another feature is crucial: as body length and proportions change, the chair and desk should “grow” with the child. Height-adjustable children’s desks are ideal. Most manufacturers offer different surfaces, colors, cover fabrics, and decors – this is where taste comes into play – and that of the child.

How Do I Find the Right Desk for Children?

It Should Be Height-Adjustable and Tiltable

It should be adjustable in height to ensure that the children’s desk lasts for several years and grows with the child. For an optimal viewing angle and a relaxed posture, it is recommended to be tilted completely or partially – preferably continuously: only gently tilted for writing, slightly more inclined for reading, and quite steep for painting. Does your child work at a desk whose top cannot be tilted? Build an attachment or have it made, and attach it securely to the desk: orthopedists and ophthalmologists consider a desk slant of 16 degrees healthy. The desk and chair are best adjusted so that the knees are bent 90 degrees or slightly more when sitting with the feet straight on the floor. The angle between the upper body and thighs should be greater than 90 degrees.

A Good Desk Can Withstand Anything

A child’s desk must be sturdy because children quickly put their ideas into practice: The desk is already an airplane, and the friends fly with it. Look closely at the inside: Drawers easily get stuck if the guide rails are not solid. Choose the desk’s material depending on the child’s temperament: soft woods such as pine are sensitive, and hard beech wood can withstand more. Lacquered wood veneers and synthetic resin coatings are easy to maintain. Do you live in an old apartment? Adjustable foot plates compensate for uneven floors.

In case of doubt, the desk of the offspring must also withstand something
In case of doubt, the desk of the offspring must also withstand something.
Photo: Moll

Flexible Desks Are Ideal

Can the desk be extended? Good: Additional elements such as PC holders, pull-outs, or extensions make the children’s desk (later) computer-compatible. Ask for an after-sales guarantee. Drawers or (roll-up) containers store writing, painting utensils, troughs or stop bars collect pens, and a hook holds the school bag. Accessories such as armrests and bookends also help with schoolwork. Children’s desks must be stable and not tilt or tip even when adjusted in height. Have the adjustment mechanism shown before you buy, and how does the adjustable desktop lock into place? Is everything safe for children’s fingers? Of course, even little ones should try it first to see how it works. Rounded corners and protective edges are suitable for children.

The Optimal Desk Color

A bright and matt worktop makes it easier for the eyes to work at a child’s desk, explains the German Furniture Association (DGM). Because shine and reflections strain the eyes. Strong contrasts, such as white paper on a colorful desk, are also problematic.

The Best Location for the Child’s Desk

Place the desk so the child neither sits with his back to the door nor can look directly out the window because both cause restlessness. Move the desk so daylight falls on the worktop from the left or right for left-handers. A desk lamp provides light if there is little daylight or in the dark months. If the workstation is not in the child’s room: Make sure that your child can study in a quiet place where he or she is not distracted by the television.

Are you setting up a computer workstation for your offspring? The screen is positioned so the child does not have to strain his neck: The view is straight ahead and slightly downward, and the top edge of the monitor is about neck level. The distance between the eyes and the screen should be at least 50 centimeters. Do not place the PC directly in front of a window or illuminate it head-on.

Tip: Take your time in the beginning and observe your child while learning: When does he or she become fidgety and unfocused? What is disturbing? Is absolute quiet, or is background noise better for cramming? Is the desk right against the wall or even in the middle of the room better?

The Appropriate Dimensions for the Child’s Desk

Desk height and inclination, height, depth, and shape of the desk chair and backrest influence the child’s posture. If the child sits at a desk that is too high or on a chair that is too high, they will soon lose interest in doing homework. Because if you have to stretch, you quickly get cramped. To adjust the writing furniture precisely, first reach for the meter stick: measure the child and place him or her on the chair. Now you can adjust the chair to the child, then the table to the sitting child.

The Optimal Sitting Position at the Child’s Desk

For your child to sit optimally, you should consider the following: The seat height corresponds to the knee height of the child. Both feet are flat on the floor when seated, with the horizontal upper and lower legs forming an angle of 90 degrees or more. The tabletop is just below elbow height, with the upper arms hanging loosely down. The angle between the upper and lower arms should be at least 90 degrees. The angle between the torso and thighs should be greater than 90 degrees.

Don’t forget: Check furniture settings every six months because children grow an average of seven inches yearly.

Choosing the Right Chair for the Child’s Desk

Sitting is static; good sitting is dynamic: Before buying a chair, the child should try it out for as long as possible. In doing so, they can feel whether the backrest and seat are designed so that they follow the body’s movements. Body proportions do not conform to any standard. That’s why desk chairs with a wide range of adjustments are advisable: they adapt their seat height and depth to the owner, and their backrest is height-adjustable. A chair that encourages frequent changes in sitting posture is also recommended. If the seat is upholstered, the front edge should be pleasantly rounded. Ask whether the upholstery and cover are “breathable” and whether they wick sweat away from the body.

Of course, children use their chairs not only for sitting, so suitable cover fabrics are those made of easy-care and durable microfibers. Other plus points: If the chair turns and rides on casters. Some manufacturers offer chairs with hard castors for soft surfaces or with soft castors for hard floors. A desk chair for students should not be a lightweight that quickly loses its balance: Test tilt resistance! The adjustment mechanisms should also be safe for children to use; have all functions demonstrated.

It doesn't always have to be the classic office chair. With standing support (model "Nilserik"; Ikea; $45), the child sits upright and can move dynamically. Yes, even tilting must be allowed occasionally—height-adjustable desk "Skarsta" from Ikea, $199
It doesn’t always have to be the classic office chair. With standing support (model “Nilserik”; Ikea; $45), the child sits upright and can move dynamically. Yes, even tilting must be allowed occasionally—height-adjustable desk “Skarsta” from Ikea, $199.
Photo: Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2017

Tip: Always keep moving
Your child already has a desk chair, but it doesn’t allow movement? Encourage them to change their sitting posture often, every ten minutes, if they have any discomfort: this allows their back to recover and keeps them focused. Even what we were forbidden to do in the past is good for us: reading cross-legged on the chair or writing while sitting on your heels. Even lounging is allowed. Draw on the floor or learn vocabulary in the prone position for a change. An ergonomic writing desk and plenty of movement guarantee your child won’t be one of those “sitters.” Put a bouncy rope in your child’s room, clamp a horizontal bar in the door frame, or screw a wall bar to the wall or a swing to the ceiling. Often the best ideas and thoughts come from movement. Otherwise, the rule is: send kids outside in any weather to play ball, run, and climb…

The "Swoppster" is an active chair, especially for children, and offers freedom of movement in all directions with its special suspension. It is covered with breathable 3D fabric—around $260 euros from Aeris
The “Swoppster” is an active chair, especially for children, and offers freedom of movement in all directions with its special suspension. It is covered with breathable 3D fabric—around $260 from Aeris.
Photo: Foto/aeris

General Tips for Good Learning

  • Sit correctly! Those who sit upright concentrate better. But there are also situations and children camming, and learning works better when relaxed in an armchair or sofa.
  • Bright lighting! Learning is better in a bright room, preferably in daylight. In artificial lighting, the light should not be harsh but soft.
  • Noise! Total silence? Some children can concentrate better when soft music is playing in the background or when the background or chatting in the background. Why not place the child’s desk in the kitchen while parents prepare dinner? Find out what works for your child works.
  • Keep everything moving! If the head is smoking, other things often need to be moved; behavioral researchers have found: Rocking your feet, spinning in your chair, playing with your hands with a pencil, paper clip, or the Fidget Spinner. After about 20 minutes of concentrated work, a break should be taken anyway, take a break anyway.
  • Drinks and snacks! An empty stomach does not like to study, says not only a proverb. Water, spritzer, or tea and healthy snacks promote learning pleasure.

School Headache? Sitting Incorrectly!

It’s no wonder that every fifth elementary school student’s back hurts. Only every third child keeps his or her body healthy: Schoolchildren sit for nine to ten hours a day – on the bus or in the car, in the classroom, while eating, doing homework at the child’s desk, in front of the PC and TV – this causes muscles to tense up, especially the neck and shoulders, this leads to further tension; orthopedists blame the constant sitting for the frequently lamented “school headache”. But despite all the complaints, there is one piece of good news: posture problems can be easily avoided. People who move around relax and concentrate better. Dynamic sitting gets the mind moving.

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