Helping Your ADHD Child Get Organized For School

My oldest daughter had a very smart math teacher once who told the class “ the only difference between and A student and a B student is organization”. My daughter, who teaches middle school math, has taken that to heart ever since. She even teaches a class on organization at the beginning of every school year to all of her middle schoolers.

If you have a child, over the age of six, with ADHD, then you know about organization. It is definitely not a strong point with most children who struggle with attention issues. BUT – the good news is that it can be learned. It takes a guiding hand and lots and lots of practice but my three daughters are living proof that yes, you can have ADHD and be organized. In fact, if you have ADHD you MUST learn to be organized!

Thanks to a wonderful Educational Therapist, Leanne Benjamin, that I worked for, for over 12 years, and who tutored my children for many years, our family knows about organization.

Here are a few strategies that worked for us and hopefully will work for you:

1. Have a three ring binder with all subjects in the one binder. That way your child only has to remember to take one binder to all of his/her classes.

2. Divide the binder into sections by subject and make sure that the dividers have pockets. At the end of class your child can put important papers in the pocket and can sort them out later at home when they have more time. Taking these papers out and putting them in the correct place should ideally happen every day.

3. In dealing with homework there are two ways. It depends on whatever is more comfortable for your child. The first is to have a homework “folder” in the front of the binder. This can be a divider with pockets and ALL of the homework can be put in once place so that your child knows exactly where to find it. If this doesn’t work for your child you can put a pocket divider after each subject heading, labeled homework and the HW for that class can go in there so it is easily found. Either way there should be a designated spot in the binder for HW so it does not end up “somewhere”.

4. At least once a week sit down and clean out the binder with your child. Have a place where old tests, homework and papers can be filed (just in case the teacher misplaces an important test, HW or even a paper). Keep these until the end of the semester or year and then they can be thrown away. You may want to keep the papers for future reference. Start this with your child when they are young and eventually they will learn to do this on their own without your help.

5. Help your child keep their backpack organized by sitting down once a week and going through it. The best way I have found is to dump everything out and then put back only the important items that will be needed that week. I urge you to be leery of just reaching down into the backpack – you just never know what you might find…

6. Have your child keep an assignment calendar. Some schools provide them or you may have to buy one, either way is it very important that your child writes down all of his/her assignments every day. Even if the school inputs all of the assignments onto the school’s computer site, your child should still write them down in their assignment book. If they don’t write the assignments down at school make that is the first thing they do when they get home. Have them check the computer and write them down. If the school does not put them on the computer then please talk to your child’s teacher and ask for his/her help in making sure that all assignments are written down before your child leaves the classroom.

7. All of these habits will need a little guidance in the beginning. Stick with it with your child until you see them developing good habits. Then begin to leave them on their own – they may not totally succeed at first but encourage them to keep trying and soon you may even have someone reorganizing your cupboards for you.☺

8. And lastly for now – model organizational habits to your children. Keep a calendar and show them how it helps you. They will learn the most from watching you!

Good luck organizing and remember to stay calm and be patient. It might not always look like it but your ADHD child is doing the best that they can.

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