Ask the Experts

Getting My Child Organized

“How can I organize my 10-year-old for school when I have terrible organizational skills? We both have ADHD.”

The first step is for you to learn organizational skills, so you can demonstrate those skills for your child and help him to learn as well. A great resource is Survival Tips for Women with ADHD, by Terry Matlen, MSW. Online support groups can help you get answers to your questions about organizational strategies. Here are tips to get you and your child started:

  • Pick one spot in your home to be a staging area. This is a place that is designated for backpacks, purses, and keys.
  • Every day, when you and your child come home, empty out the backpack on the dining room table or kitchen counter. Work with your child to separate the trash from the good stuff and make a pile for any loose papers that will be kept.
  • Post a schedule that spells out each day’s tasks before and after school. Use it for yourself and your son to track what needs to be done, and praise him for every step forward. As the routine becomes habit, he will become better organized.
  • Create a simple checklist or chart for your son. List a few of the tasks you would like him to work on each day. Each task is worth a point/check mark/sticker, and at the end of the week, your son will receive a reward based on his level of success.