Of course, everyone feels like they could use a little help with their child’s organization. With the endless homework, permission slips, consent forms, and newsletters constantly streaming between the school and home, all parents could likely benefit from some strategies for keeping it all straight. This need becomes even more apparent for parents of children with ADHD. I assure you, whether your child has ADHD or not, these strategies can help him or her achieve his potential at school and keep the peace at home.
Establish a Routine
Create and maintain a consistent schedule each day or week so that your child is able to develop a routine. By doing the same thing in the same sequence each day, your child will be able to cultivate rituals that make daily tasks easier to maintain. For example, if your child knows that he will be returning home directly after football practice every day, he can establish a routine in which he puts his cleats, pads, and keys in the same place each day. This eliminates the rush and confusion of looking for those items that tends to arise when a routine is not established. For an additional example, if your child knows that the family has breakfast together every morning, a morning ritual can be established in which this time is used to go over any papers that have been sent home from the school or to check that all homework is in the backpack. By establishing regular routines, troublesome tasks such as keeping track of football cleats or signing paperwork from school can become second-nature.
Use Visual Cues
Many children, especially those with attention difficulties, benefit from visual cues. These can include colorful notes or lists reminding the child of important tasks. This could include hanging a check-out list near the child’s door that he must consult every morning before leaving his room. This might look something like:
- Brush teeth
- Feed gerbil
- Put homework in backpack
- Pack soccer uniform
Other examples of helpful visual cues would be to place a colorful note on the bathroom mirror reminding your child to take his vitamins in the morning or a note on the front door reminding her to take her lunch.
Create an Organizational System for Schoolwork
Children, particularly those with ADHD, often need to be given a concrete system of organization for their schoolwork. The tasks of bringing home schoolwork, completing it, and returning it to school can be overwhelming for a child. Add to that maintaining class notes, bringing home newsletters and permission slips, and mediating other correspondence between school and home, and this begins to seem like an impossible task for many children. Simple adjustments to a child’s organizational system can reap huge benefits. For example, a home-school folder can be established in which your child can place any papers that need to be sent home or back to the school. That folder can live in the child’s backpack and the parents and teachers can help by consistently checking that folder. Another organizational strategy is to color-code your child’s school supplies by subject. For example, your child’s Science book could be covered in red contact paper and his Science notebook and folder could also each be red. Then, if your child knows he has Science homework, he simply needs to make sure he brings home all of his red supplies. That task can seem much less intimidating than remembering to bring home the correct book, notebook, folder, etc. for every assignment.
These simple tips are a great start for anyone trying to bring some organization to their child’s life. Of course, be flexible with these strategies and don’t be afraid build upon what works. If your child benefits from visual cues in his bedroom, establish them throughout the house! If color-coding your child’s classes helps, try color-coding after-school activities as well! You could be amazed at the difference a few, simple organization strategies can make.