Ask the Experts

Q: My Tween Keeps Forgetting Her Block Schedule Books and Supplies

Middle school block schedules are rarely the same two days or two weeks in a row. If your child with ADHD keeps forgetting class books and supplies in her locker, read on for organization tips.

Q: “My child is in 5th grade, which is middle school in our district. She has 5 core teachers — each with their own expectations — and students are expected to grab their supplies for 2 classes at a time so that they aren’t heading back to lockers all day. Her teachers are reporting to me that she is forgetting materials for every class, and when she gets to the class she spreads out everywhere and can’t seem to stay organized. How do I help her make sure that she grabs the things she needs for each class and stay organized when she walks into those two classes, especially when schedules are different every day?” – ModelT’sMom


Hi ModelTsMom:

Over the years, I’ve seen so many middle school students struggle trying to manage notebooks, folders, binders, spirals, and more in a confusing block schedule. (And don’t get me started on the fact that most middle schools do not allow their students to carry backpacks during the school day!) Most students need a simple and manageable system to organize their school papers so they can easily remember to remember their class necessities every day.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas.

  • Post reminders everywhere. Have your daughter create a list of what she needs for each class and post it on the inside of her locker door, in her planner, on each subject’s binder AND if she is allowed to have a cell phone, as the screen saver on her phone. In other words, you want to take the remembering to remember out of HER equation and give her scaffolding and support wherever she looks. I would suggest you make it as big and bright as allowed so that it catches her eye every time.
  • Wear a Watchminder. This is one of my all-time favorite tools for children with ADHD. It’s a simple wristwatch that can be easily programmed to deliver discreet vibrating reminders throughout her day. You can either use one of their set messages OR program one of your own. For example, the watch can send your daughter a quiet reminder during transition times to look at the list of materials she needs for class. Extra bonus? Since it vibrates, it is not disruptive or noticeable in a classroom. For more information, head to the WatchMinder website.

[Get This Free Guide to Solving Disorganization at School]

  • Use clear student sleeves. Large clear vinyl pouches are middle school gold. I have my clients use one for each subject. Each pouch is large enough to hold a spiral notebook or binder, folders, and even textbooks. And because of the clear design, students can easily locate and grab a single subject out of their lockers. When class ends, they just put everything back in the pouch. You can even add colored tape to the outside for a color-coding option. My favorite sleeves are made by DELTA and you can see them in action here.
  • Simplify the supplies. I can’t stress this enough. With your child’s teachers’ permission, purchase multi-functional items. Less stuff to manage means fewer items to forget for each class. Think unfussy and streamlined, which is always better for a student with ADHD.One idea that works well for students who like to keep each subject in a separate binder is the SamSill DUO Accordion Binder All In One. Each binder comes with a loose-leaf section for taking notes AND a 7-pocket accordion file for housing homework, tests, etc. The accordion even fits composition notebooks, an academic planner, and small books. This eliminates the need to carry all these supplies separately. And since it is available in 10 different colors, she can easily color-code all her subjects. Win Win!
  • Double down on accessories. Does your daughter carry one pencil case? If you can, purchase a pencil case for each binder or subject she has. And fill each one with the same supplies – pencils, pens, highlighters, Sticky Notes, and more. Place each one in each of her binders and now she has one fewer item to remember.

If you are looking for more ideas like these, please head to our website at orderoochaos.com. Our Parenting Hub is stocked with them!

[Free Download Available: A Routine That Works for Kids with ADHD]


ADHD Family Coach Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions to the ADHD Family Coach here!

Updated on January 5, 2020

Leave a Reply