4 Easy Pieces to Getting Organized for School

These simple tools dramatically increase the odds of your child keeping tabs on school items.

Colorful binders organized well and stacked on wooden table belonging to ADHD student
Colorful binders organized well and stacked on wooden table belonging to ADHD student

Is difficulty staying organized affecting your child’s academic success? You’re not alone. Many students with ADHD struggle to create and maintain neatness. Here are four easy-to-implement strategies that can make a big difference this school year.

1. Create one homework folder. Has your child worked hard to complete an assignment only to lose it the next day? There’s nothing worse than doing the work but not being able to locate it when the teacher asks for it. The answer to this dilemma is one dedicated homework folder for all subjects. Studies show that when kids have a pocket folder labeled “To Be Completed” on one side, and “Completed” on the other side, they turn in a greater percentage of homework assignments on time. If your middle- or high-schooler has multiple binders and is resistant to a separate folder, encourage her to use the inner left pocket of each binder as her homework folder.

2. Establish a clean sweep. Any parent can help their child get organized, but the key for the student is to maintain some semblance of neatness. A “clean sweep” can help. Carve out 20 minutes one evening each week (Sundays after dinner often work well) to assist your child with cleaning out and organizing her binder and backpack. Program this regular meeting into your phone as a reminder. By establishing weekly sessions, it’s easier to keep up with organization throughout the year. If your child isn’t thrilled with the weekly idea, play music while organizing. Turn up the volume of her favorite music for 20 minutes. Music is mood lifting, energizing, and motivating, especially when you’re listening to your favorite tunes.

3. Use a Pendaflex desk-free hanging organizer. The hanging Pendaflex is my all-time favorite organizational aid. It’s great for helping students to archive and organize their school papers. It should be hung in a visible location, such as the back of the student’s bedroom door. At the end of the quarter, encourage your child to clean out his binder, placing the important papers that can be useful for studying for exams inside the Pendaflex. Label the tabs with the name of each subject. I use a Pendaflex to easily store my kids’ special papers (report cards, book reports, small art projects, and so on). You can purchase it online for around $20.

4. Try out a launching pad. A “launching pad” is a fancy term for a container that holds school items that need to get out the door each morning. It can be a box, basket, or any bin large enough to house your child’s school items, such as his backpack, library books, lacrosse stick, and so on. When kids find what they need for school first thing in the morning without stressing out, they are launching into the day in an organized fashion. Have them ready their launching pad the night before, and be sure it’s by the door from which they will exit in the morning.

The key to organization is to determine the one thing that you want to tackle and start there. For example, if mornings are too hectic and stressful, try the launching pad. If losing homework is a problem, consider a dedicated homework folder. Pick a strategy and try it out for 21 days to make change happen.