The Messy Student's Guide to Organization

Messy locker? Forgotten homework? Missed deadlines? Your child needs an organization intervention ASAP — start by color coding his folders and trying these other strategies.

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Solutions at Home

Organizational skills rarely come naturally. Consider yourself your child's organization consultant and spend some time teaching her the basics of planning and organization. Involve her when setting up organization systems so she is invested and allowed to make choices and decisions. Help your child practice her skills on a regular basis, and follow through with the systems you create together.

-- Enforce time concepts. Understanding time is essential for students with ADHD to learn to keep on task and stay organized. Help your child practice by giving specific verbal cues — first, next, then, before, after — as you develop a routine. Make it fun: "First do ten jumping jacks, then write your name backwards," and have your child give you directions as well. A child who masters the concept of sequence will be better able to organize and prioritize tasks.

-- Make a calendar. Calendars offer multisensory learning opportunities by being visual record of activities that you and your child write down and cross off, and it prompts auditory reinforcement as you talk about the day's events. Calendars will also help your child develop other skills, like accountability because he'll see when you will or will not be available to help with a project, and can plan accordingly and assume responsibility for himself.

-- Create a filing system. Set up a color-coded file system, with colors matching the system devised for school, on your child's desk. He then can easily store all of his science or English papers together in one place. This way, all of his work that doesn't have to go back and forth each day can be easily found in one place.

-- Provide a place for everything. Keep a box for school supplies, a holder for CDs, a shelf for books, a bulletin board for announcements, an under-bed box for old artwork and papers. If your child rejects your efforts to help him stay organized, impose logical consequences like if he loses a CD he has to be the one to replace it.

-- Emphasize accomplishments and successes. Praise your child as you continue to work with him on new skills. Your support and perseverance help make organizing a positive and effective experience for your child, one that will prove to be a lifetime asset.

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TAGS: Organization Tips for ADHD Kids, ADHD Time Management, Talking with Teachers, ADHD Accommodations, 504s, IEPs, Back to School

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