Many ADHD kids just don't make it home with their homework, or back to school with finished assignments. They need a system to organize their traveling paper. Two great organization systems are the binder system and the accordion system, but if a spiral notebook for each subject helps, go with what works.
The Binder System
The key to a successful binder is lots of pockets to hold loose papers. An effective binder has the following:
1. A clear pocket in front.
2. Tabs with pockets to hold loose papers, or a clip-in pocket folder.
3. A first section labeled “Homework/To Do.”
Homework should start in the front, clear pocket and then move to a “Hand In” pocket inside, so kids always know where to find assignments. When the “To Do” pocket is empty, homework is done.
The Accordion System
Purchase a 13-pocket accordion folder.
1. The first two pockets are homework “To Do” and homework “Hand In” sections.
2. Designate each of the remaining sections for a subject.
3. Empty out papers from old units.
Getting and Staying Organized
To get kids organized, sit down and say, "Let's go through your...", binder, or backpack, or folders. Then, organize paper-by-paper, section-by-section to put back what was misfiled. Sunday nights are a good night to organize and set the tone for the work week, until the kids can internalize the routine and do it themselves. After the organization is in place, use the PACK system: Purge, Accessorize, Categorize, Keep it up.
If homework is still not getting turned in, try finding another solution like scanning and emailing the assignment to the teacher the night before. If homework is still not coming home, teach kids to take time at the end of each day to compose themselves, go through homework assignments, and determine what needs to come home. Or, try a buddy system to have a friend at school help.
Keeping Lockers and Cubbies Tidy
Part of the traveling paper problem is that disorganized lockers and cubbies too easily become black holes. Kids can’t bring it home if they don't know where it is. To fix messy lockers:
1. Give everything a home.
2. Take a picture or draw a map of where it goes.
3. Repeat, repeat, and repeat until it sticks.
4. Don't judge. No raised eyebrows while organizing.
Parents need to show kids how to do it, and explain in words. They won’t understand just by osmosis.