Keeping an Organized Book Bag

Q:

"My son is in the fifth grade and was diagnosed with ADHD at age three. He is not organized in school at all—I have tried all types of organizing items, and he still shoves everything into his book bag with no responsibility. What do I do?"

Holly Uverity
A:

I believe it's important that your son be involved in the process of getting him more organized; this is a project for both of you, not just you and not just him. Begin by contacting Donna Goldberg at The Organized Student () to see if she can recommend any products for you that you have not already tried.

Backpacks come in many varieties, with many pockets and dividers; if he doesn't have a backpack or book bag that has dividers in it, consider buying him one that does. The dividers can be labeled so he'll know which papers belong in which section of the backpack.

It's also important to look at how he's doing in school—if he's keeping up with his classes and getting his homework completed and turned in on time, perhaps his disorganized book bag is not such a problem after all.

Organization looks different for each person; for some people organization equates to spotlessness and for others it does not. The goal of organization is to find what you need to get the job done, so in yourson's case, if he's able to find what he needs, perhaps his book bag is not such a mess after all.

He does, however, need a place to empty his papers into each night, which will keep them from accumulating in his bag and keep you from perhaps missing a notice from a teacher, etc. If he doesn't already have a place in the kitchen or his bedroom, then create one. Allow him to pick out the bin or basket or tray that will be his and teach him that it's part of his routine when he comes into the house to dump his papers into his basket.

You might want to create a check off list for him for things that need to be done by him each day when he walks into the house—hang up his coat, empty his book bag, put his book bag in his room, change from school clothes to play clothes, etc. Post the list and ask him to mark off each task as he's completed it.

Holly Uverity is an organization expert who runs the Houston-based firm Office Organizers. She is the founding president of Houston Professional Organizers and is a very active member of NAPO, the National Association of Professional Organizers.
 
 
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