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18 School Organizing Routines for the ADHD Family

18 School Organizing Routines for the ADHD Family

These back-to-school tips will help your ADHD family prepare for the new school year:

Summer is drawing to an end, and soon your family will be heading back into the routine of school. A little planning ahead can go a long way in making this transition a smooth one. By putting some helpful organizing routines into place, you can help your ADHD family avoid stress and feel more in control as the first day of school approaches.

Habits and Routines are at the Heart of Helping Your ADHD Family Stay Organized.

Kids with ADHD function best with a balance of both structure and some free time infused into each day. Helpful routines such as doing homework and household chores at the same time every day, and having set bath and bedtimes, can help both you and your child feel more in control. Routines also provide a sense of security and predictability that make our lives feel less chaotic. 

For those with ADHD, habits and routines are even more important because they help us stay on track and be more productive. Our habits are at the core of why some of us stay more organized than others.  If you or your child has ADHD, habits hold an enormous amount of power to be helpful from day to day. 

That said, those with ADHD often struggle more with creating habits than those with neurotypical brains because consistency is more challenging for them. So as a parent, you may need to provide more verbal reminders until the habit takes hold. Once the habit has been created, your child will begin to perform that task automatically. 

Child sleeping in bed.

Tips to Help Prepare Your ADHD Child For The School Year:

1. Give your child a 15-minute time to wake up notice.

If your child struggles with getting out of bed in the morning, try giving them try giving them a 15-minute wake-up call. Let them know you’ll be back when it’s time for them to wake up. This will help your child to transition from sleep to wake with less frustration.

2. Provide Verbal Task Reminders as Needed.

As stated above, you will likely need to give your ADHD child verbal task reminders until a habit has been clearly established. Eventually, you should be able to stop providing these reminders as the habits start to stick and become more automatic. For best results provide these reminders in a nonjudgmental, positive manner so that they don’t come off as nagging.  

 3. Establish a Launching Pad.

Since forgetfulness is common for those with ADHD, create a system by the door to help your child remember the items that need to go with them to school each day. This works great for everyone, not just ADHD families.

A launching pad can be created by placing a bin or basket by the door that everyone leaves out of. It is the perfect place to put lunches, backpacks, coats, musical instruments, sports equipment, and anything else that needs to leave the house with them each day.

4. Prepare For School the Night Before. 

Have each family member take 10-15 minutes before bedtime each night to get organized for the next school day. Lay out outfits, and pack everything that needs to go to school. Gather together after-school supplies and snacks for activities. Make lunches for the next day. Doing this will help the mornings to run smoother and will prevent items from being forgotten.   

5. Create a To-Do List For Your Child To Check Off As They Make Progress Each Morning.

To help your child stay focused and productive on school mornings, create a task list of all the things that need to get done before they leave for school. Break down their morning into several simple and achievable steps.

You may even want to laminate the list so that they can use a dry-erase marker to check off items as they go. This will help your child to remember to get everything done and as a bonus, may provide them with motivation to stay on task…because checking things off as they go is fun!

6. Other ways to help your child get things done in the mornings:

Help your child manage their time better using a timer, an Alexa, or an alarm to help with transitions between activities. Since those with ADHD are often visually oriented, meaning they have to see it to remember to do it, make easily forgotten tasks more likely to get done by placing some sort of visual cue where your child will see it. For example, set your child’s vitamins next to their toothbrush. This will remind them to take their vitamins after they brush their teeth.

7. Create a Reward System.

You can further motivate your child by creating a reward system for every day that they get to school on time. For example, let your child know that if they arrive on time every day of the week, they will receive a small reward on Friday. An ice cream cone after school or extra screen time are both good examples.  

To ensure that this system is effective, be consistent with this and only reward your child if they follow through with getting to school on time each day.

8. Find a School Notebook or Planner That Works Well For Your Child.

Often, students with ADHD struggle with having too many or too complicated notebooks and other paperwork to keep track of each day. You may want to help your child find a simpler system that works for their brain.

Is it possible to have one notebook with tabs rather than several? You may have to try a few different planners or notebooks before you find one that appeals to and works for your child. Be sure to let your child be the one to decide what works best for them.

It is also important to maintain open communication with teachers and school staff. Attend parent-teacher meetings and collaborate on strategies that work both at home and in school.

9. Create an End of the School Day Reminder System That Works For Your Child.

If your ADHD child tends to forget to bring the things that he needs home from school each day, try taping a note to the inside cover of your child’s binder with these reminder questions: Do you have your homework assignments? Do you have all your books? Do you have any questions about your homework to ask the teacher before you leave?

Of course they still will have to remember to look at their their reminder list before leaving the classroom, but at least this simplifies how many things they have to remember.

10. Be Sure That Your ADHD Family Members Get Plenty of These 4 Things:

You can help build healthy habits at home to keep everyone functioning at their best by ensuring that they get adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise. These factors play a crucial role in managing ADHD symptoms and overall well-being.

Brandon Slade, founder of Untapped Learning states that “four important factors have a strong effect on the overall day-to-day functioning of those with ADHD, especially if hyperactivity and inattentiveness are present. They include – sleep, movement, routines, and structure.” He explains that kids with ADHD function best when they get a good night’s sleep, a moderate amount of exercise before having to focus, and plenty of structure and routine in their daily schedule.

student with backpack.

Other Helpful Organizing Routines For Your ADHD Family:

11. Establish a Weekly Family Huddle.

A super helpful family organizing routine to create for your family is to hold a weekly family huddle. During this planning meeting, discuss the upcoming week’s activities, deadlines, and appointments, and add them to the family calendar.

Plan ahead for any activities that require advanced preparation like purchasing new shoes before football practice or baking cookies for an event. This will have a big impact on helping your family stay in control and avoid unwelcome surprises as the week progresses.

The family huddle can also be a good time to plan the other things that need to get done at home each week. Have your family help decide what meals they want for the week. You could also decide what household chores each person is going to be responsible for completing that week.  

12. Does Your ADHD Family Struggle With Getting Chores and Other Tasks Done?

If your family struggles with household chores and daily tasks that need to get done. Or if you feel that they are not dispersed fairly, here’s an idea that works well for many families. First, create a comprehensive list of all of the household tasks that need to be done on a weekly basis. You can even take it one step further and make note cards for each task.

Call a family meeting and disperse household tasks according to age appropriateness. You can also make a game out of this by allowing each family member to choose one card at a time until all of the cards have been dispersed. Hold additional family meetings to reassign chores either weekly or monthly, whatever works best for your family.

13. Go Through Backpacks and Do Homework at the Same Time Every Day.

Pick a time that works well for you and go through the paperwork in your child’s backpack daily. Doing it when your children are tackling their homework works well. Take immediate action on any paperwork that needs to be signed or completed rather than putting it off until later. 

Provide a quiet place for your child to study and complete their homework. It works best if they establish a routine of completing their homework at the same time each day. This will help your child focus and avoid any temptation to procrastinate.

14. Don’t Put Off the Predictable. 

Just as it is much less stressful not to wait until the last minute to do a homework assignment, it promotes peace to get scheduled activities out of the way and prepare ahead of time rather than waiting until the last minute. For example, not waiting until the day before practice to shop for football shoes will prevent you from panicking if you can’t find the size you need at the store. 

15. Create a Family Command Center.

A bulletin board is a good place for the family calendar, weekly household chore charts, schedules, and other things that must be referenced frequently. Use hanging wall pockets or small bins to assign mailboxes to each child. These can house all those important papers that they bring home that you may need for future reference. 

16. Designate a Place for Completed School and Artwork.

As the year progresses, there is a simple way to organize the monsoon of school paperwork that comes home with your child each day. Just toss everything into a conveniently located paperwork bin. I placed ours on top of the frig. Periodically go through the bin and toss all past schoolwork, leaving any artwork and other keepsake items in the bin. I did this whenever I noticed the bin was getting full.

At the end of the year, transfer all of the school keepsake items to keepsake bins. Since I also have ADHD this kept the process super simple for me and worked well for my brain. For more detailed instructions on how to manage school keepsakes, as the years go by, read my other post:  How To Organize Kid’s School Keepsakes & Memorabilia.

17. Create a Daily 10-minute Family Tidy Session.

This will go a long way in keeping your home less cluttered from day to day. Get your family in the habit of participating in a family tidying session at the same time each day, perhaps right before or after supper. You’ll be surprised how quickly your home can go from disheveled to orderly when everyone pitches in and works together for just 10 minutes.

You can also make it fun by setting a timer that counts down or by playing music.  A tidy home will help you and your family feel more in control and organized as the school year progresses. Be sure to allow family members to be done after the set 10-minute time period, otherwise, they may lose their interest in participating altogether.

18. Protect Your Family’s Schedule.

Those with ADHD tend to become overwhelmed more easily than those who don’t. Therefore protect your family’s schedule by not overloading it with too many activities and obligations. Be firm with this, even if you have a child that thinks they want to participate in everything that comes along.

Don’t be afraid to say no to the things that are less important to you or your family. Nobody has the time to do it all, so choose your family’s commitments wisely and carefully. Be sure to include free time in your family’s schedule. Once you get too busy, you lose control and lose the ability to plan ahead.

By implementing these tips, families can create a supportive and organized environment that helps children with ADHD thrive academically and socially throughout the school year. Be sure to regularly review the routines you establish and assess what is working and what needs to be tweaked. Be flexible and willing to try new approaches as needed.

Want Even More Tips?

To get tips on how to set up your ADHD family’s home for success, read my post, How to Organize Your House With ADHD: 19 Strategies.

This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive a commission, at no cost to you, when you choose to use the links provided. See my privacy policy for more information.

The Simple Daisy Organizing

Laura Coufal

About Laura

Who I am is a Southern California turned small-town, Midwest Mom. I am wife to Bruce and mom to my three girls. I am also dog mom to Ollie and Gracie, our quirky pups.

With a B.A. degree in Psychology, I have several years experience working with families and seniors. I believe in a holistic view to organizing. Clearing our minds of the clutter and chaos in our lives is just as important as clearing our physical clutter. By taking a holistic approach to organizing, we can make lasting change.

Back when I first started my professional organizing journey in 2013, I had what I thought of as a dirty little secret. I have ADHD and although I am organized, and enjoy the process of sorting, and tidying. I knew that there were many others with ADHD who really struggled with staying organized. I had a case of imposter syndrome and mostly kept the fact that I had ADHD to myself. That is until I learned that there are other successful professional organizers who have also learned to compensate for their ADHD the same way that I have.

I eventually realized that my need for order and simplicity actually stems from having ADHD as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am,  and I am able to relate to and help others as a result of this coping method that I have developed for myself.

I also help those without ADHD, who struggle with too much clutter.  Because simplicity and less clutter are always at the heart of staying organized, there is much overlap when it comes to finding solutions to clutter and disorganization.

I am dedicated to keeping my life as simple as possible and to helping others do the same by teaching them how to declutter their homes, simplify their lives, and manage their busy families better.

I have been helping others stay organized since 2013.

It is my deepest hope that you will find resources here that will bring you closer to living a simpler, more intentional, and more peaceful life.

Want Room-By-Room Guidance with Decluttering and Organizing Your Home?

My Complete Step-By-Step Home Makeover Tutorial for Those with ADHD is now available. Click below to learn more about how you can get support from me just as if I were working there with you in your home.

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