ADHD or no ADHD, organization isn't easy for kids. But for children with attention deficit disorder, organizing, prioritizing and managing time are especially challenging. Become your child's organization coach, and engage her in setting up a process to stay organized. Help your child practice her skills on a regular basis, and stick with the systems you create together.
Get started with these nine rules for better ADHD organization at school.
Time Management: Understanding Sequence
Make sequence clear to your child by giving him specific verbal cues — first, next, then, before, after — as you develop a routine. Ask questions: What comes next? Do you remember what you did first?
Reinforce sequence lessons by:
- Giving your child a series of directions using these verbal cues—and make it fun ("First do ten jumping jacks, then write your name backwards")
- Having your child give you directions as well
- Asking him to point out words that are related to time
- Talking about future vacation plans or reminiscing about his last birthday party
Use a weekly calendar to help your ADHD child learn the days of the week as well as the concepts of yesterday, tomorrow, and so on. A monthly calendar is information overload; a week's view is easier to grasp and can still be used to teach the concept of time management.
Fill in everyone's (parents' and children's) schedule each week — appointments, dinners, sports practice, and so on. At the end of each day, have your child cross off completed activities and discuss the next day emphasizing, "This is what we'll do tomorrow, Friday."
As your child grows, the calendar will help him develop other skills, like accountability. He can see when you will or will not be available to help with a project, and can plan accordingly and assume responsibility for himself.
Analog clocks as opposed to digital clocks show that time moves and lets kids know where they stands in relation to the rest of the hour or day. Practice telling time with your child at home and ask her for a different way to say 6:45 (a quarter to seven). Reinforce time keeping ideas over and over so your child can gain ownership of clock time.
Just like adults, children need a place to keep track of deadlines, appointments, and other information. Using a planner will help your child manage all she has to remember and also enter her class schedule, a friend's number to call for homework clarification, and a detailed description of homework and due dates.
Help your child practice prioritizing homework by figuring out together how many assignments she has to complete, which are due tomorrow, and which are the most challenging. Encourage her to start the most difficult homework first, when she's fresh and energetic.