I have a lot of children. And I am about to add another to the ranks within the month. One thing I have noticed throughout the last 15 years is that there is no shortage of advice out there on how to raise them!
Throughout history there has always been a plethora of advice to mothers about how to raise their children. It ranges from teething, to nappies, to education, to medicine, to toys and entertainment and more!
This week I found some interesting advice in Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia (1910-1912) on the impact of a child’s posture when reading on his eyesight.
Our modern methods of education impose a great strain on the eyes of young children, and the wise mother does everything she can to counteract this by little devices in the nursery. Care is especially necessary in the case of a studious child who reads with avidity everything he can pick up, and will actually develop short sight from straining the eyes bending over books in the wrong way.
The article was even accompanied with pictures on how a child should sit when reading. It seemed quite funny to me, particularly because these days we are just trying to get our kids off computers and console games and open a book … any book … even one with mainly pictures in it!
The first rule a mother should make is to insist upon a proper position for reading and writing in the nursery and schoolroom. The small boy in the picture who is doubled up, reading in a chair with his legs crossed, without support to the back or feet, is taking up a position which directly encourages weak sight in later life.
Now, I hasten to add that some sensible advice was given to these poor paranoid mothers:
A good light, a book with the print clear and of fair size, are points which must not be forgotten.
But some equally strange advice was also propounded:
… if you wish to keep the children from developing weak sight in the nursery, see that they read in a good light, that they sit comfortably, with the head well up so as to prevent congestion to the eyeballs. When there is the slightest suspicion of weak sight, curtail very strictly the hours of reading and writing.
Surely a smart child who lamented his study hours in the schoolroom might learn quickly to develop a headache from eyestrain!
Sources and Relevant Links
Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, Vol. VII, p. 4754.