ADHD | Kids/Families
Keep Students with ADHD Organized at Home & School
When I think back to my grade school years as a student with ADHD, it was indeed a struggle. For starters, I did not even know that I had ADHD. I didn’t find THAT out until I was well into my thirties. What I did know was that I was not normal.
16 years of education and not a single teacher ever said a word to me about the possibility of me having ADHD. That might have been helpful…It would have made an immense difference in my overall level of self-confidence.
It would have been helpful if someone could have enlightened me that my brain was wired differently and that having ADHD made listening difficult for me. If I had known this, I maybe would not have had an inferiority complex for so many years.
I would sit in class and try to listen, but I always ended up having to ask the same dreaded question. Inevitably, I would annoy whoever got stuck sitting next to me with…what exactly does the teacher want us to do again?
But that was a long time ago.
Thankfully, today we have much more knowledge about ADHD and its effects on learning and listening. Parents and teachers are better equipt to be much more supportive and understanding of students with ADHD today.
The following is a list of tips to help students with ADHD stay organized, motivated, and productive both at home and at school:
1. Recognize every success and achievement out loud.
Because a student with ADHD learns differently and struggles with things that non-ADHD children do not, their self-image is especially fragile. Your child needs to be clearly informed that just because they have ADHD does not mean that they are not smart or can’t learn.
Every academic and social achievement will be directly affected by how your child sees him or herself. So, it is important to place fostering their self-image high on your list of priorities.
2. Share with your child that there are many positives to having ADHD.
Because most of the population does not have an ADHD brain, the more negative characteristics of ADHD tend to get honed in on. There are positive attributes of having ADHD as well, but they are often overlooked. Reminding your child of these positives from time to time will offer much-needed encouragement.
Those with ADHD often are very creative, intellectual, and able to think outside the box. They also have excellent problem-solving skills. Those with ADHD also have an enormous amount of energy to get things done. They can even hone in on a project to become super productive.
3. Visual reminders can help students with ADHD.
Those with ADHD respond well to visual cues. Often, what is out of sight is suddenly out of mind. In other words, they have to see it to remember to do it. When children are working independently, it helps to leave visual reminders so that they can remember what to do. The more visual cues you and your child can make physical, the less they will forget. Visual cues can also be used to get things done at home.
4. Students with ADHD can benefit from being paired with a non-ADHD partner.
Additudemag.com suggests pairing an ADHD student with classmates or a classroom aid to remind them of homework and classwork instructions. This can make a big difference in helping ADHD students understand what needs to be done so they can stay on task.
5. Teach your child this listening trick.
I have found that when I need to listen to something important, it is helpful to repeat what is being said inside my own head. This is sort of like playing a silent game of ‘Copycat’ with myself, and it works. When important instructions are given by a teacher, your child can learn to repeat every word that the teacher says, silently in their head. This repetition acts as a memory aid, and also keeps thoughts from wandering at inopportune moments.
6. Help your child clearly understand instructions at home and school.
A school planner can help students with ADHD write down important information like deadlines, directions, and homework assignment details. At home, having a family calendar and chore chart posted on a wall can help your child stay on top of completing tasks. Be sure appointments, chores, and other information are clearly printed and easy to understand.
7. Communication is Key.
Be sure that you talk with your child at the end of each night to ensure that they have completed their homework. Check if everything that needs to be turned in the next day is already in your child’s backpack and ready to go.
Verywellmind.com recommends communicating often with your child’s teacher to set up a system for getting assignments down in a notebook at the end of each school day. Teachers can also ask their students with ADHD to repeat assignment instructions out loud to them before leaving the classroom.
8. Organize your ADHD child’s bedroom and other areas of the home in a way that they are supportive.
Those with ADHD are overwhelmed easily by a cluttered environment and excess stuff. Susan Pinsky, Author of Organizing Solutions For People With ADHD suggests that for those with ADHD, more clutter means more chaos. So, the less stuff you have in your child’s bedroom, and study area, the easier it will be for them to keep it all organized. Stick to the necessities they need to be productive and minimize the rest.
9. Set up a quiet place for your child to work on assignments at home.
Since those with ADHD are easily distracted, designate a quiet location in your home for doing homework. Provide your child with all of the supplies they need to complete assignments such as extra pencils, ruler, water bottle, calculator, etc. But keep other unnecessary items to a minimum. Allow your child to use noise-reducing earphones if they are especially sensitive to outside distractions.
10. Keep organizing systems simple.
Have designated homes for everything your child needs at home to stay organized. Those with ADHD have less patience than others, so they will be more likely to maintain a space if everything is super easy to access and put away. Make your home ADHD-friendly by storing things simply and efficiently. For example: use lots of clearly labeled containers to keep like items together, but leave the tops off of everything, with exception of rarely used items.
Avoid micro-organizing things like underwear and socks. Instead, toss all socks together in a small drawer or bin. If it takes too much effort to put away, it may not get done.
11. Establish a launching pad.
By putting things where they have to trip over them to get out the door, they are much less likely to leave home without them. Designate a spot right next to the exit door to be their launching pad. Teach your child to get into the routine of placing everything needed for the next day there. As they walk out the door each morning, they will see it, grab it, and go. This helps eliminate morning chaos because there is no last-minute scrambling for things. There is also less thought needed as they walk out the door.
12. Protect your child’s schedule by saying no to too many activities.
These days the tendency to overfill our schedules with too many outside-of-school activities is common. Those with ADHD tend to get overwhelmed and/or frustrated more easily than those without ADHD. Be selective about how many activities your child commits to outside of school. Leave extra time in their daily schedule to get things done, and be sure to include some downtime.
13. Routines are extra helpful for children with ADHD.
Families all function better with organizing systems and routines in place. But routines are especially important for those with ADHD. Forming habits that take place daily or weekly, like having set times for homework and chores, can help your child stay productive. Once practiced, routines turn into helpful habits. They become automatic, and as a result, help us remember what needs to be done. Routines not only help keep kids organized, but they also reduce stress and enable them to feel more in control.
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