Organization

Q: “How Can I Help My Child Remember His Homework and Books?”

Building routines and filling backpacks the night before will help students with ADHD prepare for the next school day and teach a valuable organizing skill this back-to-school season.

Q: “How can I help my son, who has ADHD, remember to take his homework, books, and lunch to school each day? I’m running up to his school at least twice a week to bring him what he left at home that morning.”

It is essential that your son pack up his backpack the night before and leave it by — maybe even blocking — the door he exits. For things he takes every day, I suggest making a mnemonic sung to the tune of “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” but modified to his items. So it could be: “Lunch, homework, keys, and phone.” Of course, this doesn’t address one-time items, such as permission slips, or weekly items, like gym shoes and musical instruments.

Weekly and regular routines can go on a large weekday matrix that is hung by the door, so he knows on Tuesday night to pack his shoes for gym on Wednesday. One-time items can be jotted on a neon Post-It or noted on a phone with a reminder text or a memo, whichever is most convenient and effective for him at the moment. His most valuable tool, however, is you.

[Read: The Messy Student’s Guide to Order]

It may take a month to get him in the habit of packing up the night before, checking the matrix and reminder notes, and placing everything in front of the door. You should be there in the morning to “run the tune.” A good month of this should make it a habit. You might not completely eliminate your trips to the school, but they should become fewer. And best of all, Mom, you will have taught him a valuable organizing system that he can use for the rest of his life.

School Organization: Next Steps

Susan C. Pinsky is a professional organizer specializing in ADHD. She is the author of Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD and The Fast and Furious 5 Step Organizing Solution(#CommissionsEarned).

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