Messy backpack and binder. Disorganized desk. A poor or non-existent organizational system. If your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), you’ve likely dealt with one or more of these issues during the school year. It can be incredibly frustrating to see your child operating in such an inefficient, ineffective manner, but there are ways you can help him or her improve those executive functions and develop strategies to stay organized and on task. Here are several tips and tools that will help your ADHD student:
Embrace charts and checklists. A daily assignment chart will help your child keep track of homework and ensure you know what’s expected at home. Try a simple sheet with subjects across the top and days of the week in the left-hand column. Your child should record any homework at the end of each subject or class and keep this chart in one central place, such as a binder. At night, this chart should become your child’s to-do list, which he or she can keep on hand during homework time and check off as tasks are completed. Checklists posted by the door (or wherever your child gets ready for school) with everything needed for the school day are also helpful visual reminders.
Use a day planner. A day planner is a good idea for any student, but especially important for ADHD students who struggle with organization. Help your child learn the basics of referencing the planner frequently and during homework time and using it to plan a schedule for any bigger assignments or projects. Many students use day planners successfully to stay on top of their assignments as well. Whether your child’s planner is simple and used for “high-level” recording of extracurricular reminders, due dates and test dates, or detailed with homework assignments, it’s a useful daily companion.
Master prioritization. Often, children with ADHD lack strong time management skills. A consistent routine helps such children become accustomed to staying on task and setting aside time for both “have-tos” and “want-tos.” Before sitting down to do homework, have your child rank each subject in order of priority. Due dates that are furthest away should be lower on the list than assignments due the next day. Then, have him or her estimate how long each assignment might take and set time limits for each. A stopwatch or timer is an invaluable device for helping your child avoid veering off on tasks.
Create a system. Help your child develop a system for keeping track of handouts, supplies, notebooks and more. Whether that’s a color-coded filing system for each subject, inboxes at home used in conjunction with a binder with subject dividers, or a combination of methods, the key is to embrace the “everything in its place” mantra. Teach your child to always store similar items in the same location and to develop good habits for organizing the backpack and desk at the end of each homework session.
Lastly, your support is critical as your child learns to be an effective student. Keep tabs on homework and project deadlines and keep a family calendar and bulletin board in a central location. Make organization a family practice. Most importantly, remind your child that all his or her efforts will pay off in the long run. With reliable procedures in place and continued practice, your child will learn the routines that help him or her the most.
If your child has ADHD and is struggling to stay organized and keep up with school work, call Huntington. We work with many ADHD students and use proven instructional strategies to help them stay focused and be successful in school.
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