Here is my list of recommended back to school supplies to help with organization and other ADHD-related challenges: (with links to Amazon):
NAME TAGS like THESE. One common issue with kids with ADHD: lost items. Put a name tag on everything from backpacks to coats to gym clothes (with his/her name and phone number) and you and your teen will at least have a chance at identifying and retrieving lost items!
PERMANENT MARKERS like THESE. Use these to write on labels, and also to write directly on items without labels like notebooks and backpacks. I like having both a wide and narrow tip.
A BACKPACK. Just like what kind of purse a woman prefers is a personal choice, the type of backpack kids prefer is a personal preference. Some kids like string bags like THIS, and some like bigger ones like THIS. Two things to keep in mind before buying a backpack: Some schools don’t allow kids to bring backpacks into classrooms so it’s a good idea to find out your school’s policy. If they aren’t allowed in class, your teen will still need one to transport items back and forth. Also, keep in mind: the bigger the bag, the more stuff your teen will be able to cram into it, creating a potentially huge ‘black hole’ of books/clothes/trash/food, etc. that will have to be cleaned out on a regular basis. Also, large full backpacks weigh a lot, putting your child’s back and neck at risk of injury with repeated use. Sometimes smaller is better, but then your teen will need to use his/her locker more.
FOLDERS like THESE. Some kids do well with elaborate binder systems with all the bells and whistles but kids with ADHD seem to do much better if they have a more simple system: a folder for each class and a spiral notebook (see below) for each class (and they can be color coordinated; see below). The benefits of folders like these are that they are lightweight (so carrying around 8 of them a day will not add a lot of weight or bulk to backpacks), durable (although a little more expensive, the plastic ones last longer than the paper kind), and they have a slot on each side for papers as well as room in them for notebook paper. (Ideally, kids would use one slot for papers that need to come home and one slot for papers that need to go back to be turned in. Notes for the class would then be taken on the paper in the middle of the folder.)
SPIRAL NOTEBOOKS like THESE. Some classes require a separate spiral notebook, for example for a journal in English class or for science labs. One thing that seems to work well with kids with ADHD is when they choose a color for each class (eg., math class is the yellow folder, science is green, etc.) and have a folder and spiral notebook of the same color for each class. That way when they get to class, the only thing that has to come out of the backpack (or locker) is the folder and spiral notebook for that class. Papers for that class then don’t get mixed in with papers for other classes. (Make sure to use a label or marker to write the subject name on the front of each, as well as the student’s name and phone number inside.)
FILLER PAPER like THIS. I recommend that you keep plenty of paper on hand at home so folders can be refilled when needed.
PENCILS like THESE. And pens like THESE. Pens and pencils will be lost, maybe even on a daily basis so I recommend you buy as many of these as you can afford. You can send a bunch to school to be kept in a locker too. I like these pencils because they are already sharpened. If you choose to get the unsharpened kind, make sure you have a sharpener at home like THIS. (Also, make sure you buy #2 pencils. These are the kind that some U.S. schools still require be used to color in test bubble sheets.) When buying pens, stick to black or blue. Many teachers don’t allow students to use other ink colors on papers that will be turned in (especially not red).
PENCIL GRIPS like THESE. These aren’t a must-have but they are nice to have. Many teachers, occupational therapists and educational specialists often recommend use of a pencil grip because it helps stabilize the pencil and can help improve handwriting. It also is much more comfortable writing using a pencil with a grip so maybe with a grip your teen won’t gripe (as much)!! Keep in mind that when pencils get lost, so will these. But you might want to keep some on hand to use on the pencils at home that your teen can use for homework.
Dry erase markers like THESE. These are great for writing notes and reminders. You don’t even need a “white board”. They work great on mirrors and glass.
Sticky notes like THESE. I like these because they are a cute way to leave reminders and encouraging notes.
Some kind of timer like THIS. It’s always best for kids with ADHD to study in short chunks of time rather than one long stretch. Although there are fancy apps and most cell phones have timers, old fashioned timers are more fun to use and they’re cute!
Happy Back to School!
Parenting Coach for parents of teens with ADHD, school counselor, author, mom of adult son with ADHD