For Students with ADHD, a Well-Organized Locker is Key

“Remind your child that the key to organization is not in avoiding falling apart, but in knowing how to reorganize when you do.”

Middle School Lockers
Middle School Lockers

It’s all too easy to forget the importance of a student’s locker. Sure, it’s that place where your child keeps his “stuff,” but a locker should ideally be a well-organized base of school-day operations.

What it often becomes, however, is a disaster area. When your child with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) can’t find things in his locker, he’ll show up in class without a notebook or resort to carrying everything in his backpack. When he has to dig through clutter to find his hockey gear, he’ll be late for practice, class, or the bus home.

Setting up a locker is a big step toward organization in school, particularly for students with ADHD.

Middle and high school can be overwhelming, with multiple classrooms, multiple subjects, multiple teachers, and all the supplies that go with them. Plus, nobody teaches Locker 101. But an organized locker can reduce the time spent worrying about where essentials are and allow more time to concentrate on work.

To help your child function better in school, ask him the following questions:

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1. Where is your locker located?

2. Do you have time to go to your locker between classes?

3. What do you keep in your locker?

4. What do you need in your locker (textbooks, notebooks, extra pens, sports equipment, musical instrument)?

5. What additional storage accessories might be helpful (an extra shelf, a hook, a message board)?

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Use the answers to determine the most logical locker setup. Your child can do the organizing at school, or bring home his locker’s contents to sort with you. Here’s a basic plan:

Get rid of anything that doesn’t belong in the locker (garbage or whatever is not useful).

Have your child decide whether his books should be grouped to accommodate morning and afternoon classes or grouped as textbooks, notebooks, and workbooks.

Assign specific areas in the locker to specific belongings.

Attach a message board and your child’s class schedule to the inside of the locker door. Install a hook to hold a gym bag.

Add extra shelves, if necessary, to make the space more efficient.

Decide on maintenance. This may be a weekly straightening-up or a semi-annual purge, depending on the student.

Involve your child in the locker setup, so he’ll be more invested in the plan and make choices that suit his needs. When the choices make sense to him, he’ll be inclined to keep it up.

As with any organizing system, the locker is a work in progress. Your child’s needs may change, and he’ll find that some things work better than others. Reassure him that this is how it’s supposed to be, and check in with him periodically to see how the locker plan is holding up. At busy or stressful times, things may unravel. Remind your child that the key to organization is not in avoiding falling apart, but in knowing how to reorganize when you do.

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