Secrets of the Organized Student

Kids with ADHD rarely keep their backpacks tidy—and that sometimes has serious consequences on overall academic performance. These 20+ organization strategies can help kids build the skills they need to stay neat — or at least neatish!

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Teach Organization Skills to Students in the Classroom

  • Make desk-cleaning a part of the daily routine. A half hour before dismissal, a teacher might say, “OK, let’s do a speed cleaning!” to her first-grade class, prompting kids to tidy up their desks and other common spaces. When the classroom is tidy, they can play a short group game before getting ready to go home for the day.
  • Talk about it. Have a class discussion about what it means to be organized. Ask kids to design a system for cleaning up their cubbies or a common play area. Talk about how to organize classroom routines to make them go more smoothly. Set up a suggestion box kids can use if they think of other ideas.
  • Instruct the class in how to set up and organize a notebook and binder. Each time you tell students something that should go in the notebook or binder, tell them exactly where it goes and supervise them to make sure it gets there. Work in pairs to ensure each follows the plan.
  • Use brightly colored paper for project assignments, providing details and due dates. Give each student two copies -- one for the notebook and one to be posted at home.
  • Stay organized yourself. Have classroom systems in place for daily routines -- turning in homework assignments, collecting lunch money and permission slips, and so on. Teach students the systems, and appoint student monitors to make sure the routines are followed as much as possible.
  • Make organization a team effort. Divide the class into two teams, appoint team leaders, and award points for keeping desks clean, cubbies or lockers organized, or notebooks neat. With the class, create a checklist that can be used for inspections. Hold daily or random spot-checks and award points based on the checklist. The team with the most points at the end of the week gets to choose the class reward from a rewards menu.
  • Provide handouts that are three-hole-punched in advance.
  • Keep classroom systems simple. Use two color-coded folders -- red for incomplete homework assignments, green for completed assignments. Use this for class work as well, and teach the class to move their work from red to green as the morning progresses. Make sure they pack the folders before they go home. First thing in the morning, ask them to get out their green folders with completed homework and place them on top of their desk for review.
  • Give bonus points, or some other reward, for improved organization skills. Reward disorganized students when they are able to quickly locate a certain book or paper in their desk or notebooks.


10 Solutions for Disorganization at School
Tips for organizing everything from schedules to class papers and backpacks. Download now!

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TAGS: Organization Tips for ADHD Kids, Back to School

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