How I Got Organized in Middle School

Ali, 14, learned to make the grade - and friends - after hitting the wall in middle school.

Personal Journey, Part 2

Another activity that needed attention was getting out the door in the morning. Like many kids with ADD, Ali always ran late and left the house unprepared. We talked first about how much sleep she needed and what would be a good time to go to bed. I suggested that, rather than set her alarm for the exact time she needed to be out of bed that instead she set it so that she has an extra 10 or 15 minutes. I recommended that she use the time to think through what would occur between then and when she left for school. These tactics can really help. Part of the reason that she's more organized in the morning is that she's better prepared for school. If you hadn't done your homework or studied for a test, you wouldn't be eager to get to school either.

Ali: I use the mental staging time in the morning to decide what to wear. Rather than lounge around in my pajamas, I get up and get dressed right away. I make my bed. Last year, my bed never looked nice. Now I take the time to make it look good. My backpack is also more organized. Everything is in folders and binders. I recently came across the backpack I used last year. I looked through it, and it was such a mess - papers all over, some books, parts of old snacks. My new backpack is so neat, and it's not nearly as big as the one from last year.

Dee also taught me about body language. If I sit up straight and look relaxed, the teacher will take me more seriously than if I'm hunched over and mumbling. I do the same thing now when I'm talking to my Mom. I don't feel as small, and we've been able to discuss things more calmly. We haven't had any arguments this year about school, mainly because I'm not keeping things from her anymore. Last year, I didn't tell my parents about tests or assignments. When I got a D or an F I'd try to hide it. Now I'm doing well, so I have nothing to hide.

Dee: I tried to help Ali decide what her own values are, instead of relying on extraneous motivators to get good grades. What drives her to succeed at school shouldn't be mom and dad encouraging her, but rather her own interest in learning and doing well. In our sessions, she made it clear that college is important to her and that she wants to do well enough to get there.

Teaching Ali to be proactive about what she wants and offering her the tools to get it have made her more confident. You can see it in her posture. She's erect and articulate. She's not afraid to say what she's thinking.

Ali: Another way I use that personal empowerment is with my friends. They confide in me and trust me with their secrets. I used to feel overwhelmed because I took on their problems. Dee taught me that I can be a good friend by listening, but that it's my friend's responsibility to handle her own situation. I find that I feel less stressed.

Dee also has taught me to coach myself. In History, I sit near my friends, and we chat when we first see each other. But when it comes to note-taking time, I say I can't talk anymore or I ask them to be quiet and I get to work.

Kathleen: As a parent, when I think about what Ali's gone through because of her ADD - not feeling confident and struggling socially - it breaks my heart. At school she kept to herself a lot, and the kids knew she was different and teased her. She isolated herself for years because she was struggling on so many levels. In just three months of coaching, I have seen a difference. She's more confident, more interested in seeing her friends. I'm so excited for her. I can't tell you how great it is to see the changes.

Keith: Ali is much more sociable. She can control herself when she's with friends - there's more self-awareness and maturity.

Ali: I've been more outgoing this year. I went to homecoming. My mom pointed out that I don't seem as anxious. I don't feel overwhelmed with school, and I'm making more friends. I used to spend a lot of time on the computer, but now I know it's not as much fun as going out with friends. I know I look more confident. I am more confident. I feel good about myself. I've always liked to sing, but I was too stressed out to pursue it. Now I'm in three choirs. I have more time to do what I love doing.

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TAGS: Homework and Test Help, ADHD Time Management, ADHD Coaching, Organization Tips for ADHD Kids,

 

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