How to Organize a Child with ADHD

by Angel

Organization and Time Management are both skills that ADHD children need help with. As a mother of two ADHD children, I have a few tips to help.

Organizing a Child with ADHD is a task. It requires the parent to be organized and help the child stay organized. There are a few tips that I would like to share with you that have helped my son and I stay organized. He performs better and things are not as confusing for all of us when we are organized. Maybe this can help you and your child too.

Clutter Causes Confusion and Frustration for ADHD Children

Parenting a child who has ADHD can be a daunting task. You find yourself staying behind them on a daily basis to get them to successfully complete assignments and tasks. Children with ADHD have deficits in the areas of time management and organization. My nine year old daughter and twelve year old son both have ADHD. I find myself constantly thinking of ways to help them through some of the daily struggles they encounter. When things are disorganized they tend to get very confused and not cooperate. This is true at home and at school. I have put together a few organization and time management tips that have helped me in my journey and hope that you will also find them helpful.

Help Your ADHD Child Stay Organized at School

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Tips for ADHD Children to Stay Organized at School

My son just started 6th grade and Middle School this year. The first few weeks were horrible because of the confusion he had with changing classes and going from one teacher to seven. He complained of his locker being so disorganized and confusing that he could not find anything with such short time between classes. There are ways to help your child through this. I have used several items to help our organizational effort at home and at school and would like to share them with you.

  • Locker - A locker organizer is great for breaking up the one big large space that is a locker. It allows the child to have a shelf or two to place items so that they are not digging through one big pile of books and papers to find what they need.
  • Book Bag - Cleaning out your child's book bag daily is necessary. I don't mean that you should do this alone. Have them take part in cleaning out their own book bag. This can be done when you sit down to complete homework. Ask them what are the items that must be kept and what can be thrown away. You may need to help with this a little since my child wants to keep everything and it clutters up her book bag so much that there is not room for the necessary items.
  • Desk At School - Have an open communication with your child's teacher. Make them aware of the confusion it causes for your child when things are cluttered. Ask if they will prompt your child to clean out their desk weekly. This will help them find the necessary items in their desk on a daily basis.
  • Folders - Create color coded and labeled folders for your child's school work. For example, have one for each subject and label them as such. One side of the folder can be labeled for work to turn in while the other side is for completed work to be brought home. I did this with my son after his initial frustration at school and it has helped him tremendously in keeping up with all his papers and where they go. He has a place for all his work and knows where to put it. It also helps in the book bag clean up as most of his papers have a place to go.

Help Your ADHD Child Stay Organized at Home

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Tips for ADHD Children to Stay Organized at Home

Staying organized at home is essential to keeping your sanity when children with ADHD are involved. Clutter and disorganization frustrates both of my children who have ADHD. It confuses them in many ways. They need to know what to expect daily and where to find all of their personal items when they need them. They need to know where things go and not be left to guess. I came up with a few things to do at home that are worth looking into if you also have a child with ADHD.

  • Organizing the bedroom – organizing your child's bedroom and work area can help them function so much better while they are spending time in that room. Containers with labels work wonders for misc items that are usually thrown all over the floor. If labeled there is no question on what goes in that container. Makes it really easy for them to clean their own room.
  • Visible Planning Area – this area should include a push pin board and calendar. We keep ours in the kitchen so that it can be viewed from the kitchen table. We keep all major events noted on the calendar and review what is coming up in the next few days as we sit down and do homework every evening. We use the push pin board for forms that come home from school that need to be filled out or just for praising one of the children for work well done on their assignments.
  • Daily Organizer – I recommend the child keep a daily organizer with them with a calendar and place to write things down. Some schools give the children assignment books and this is a good alternative to the daily organizer. This item can be used for both home and school.  They need a place to also document important dates coming up and when assignments are due. It helps them to get into the habit of being proactive and doing this themselves. Instead of waiting for mom to do it on the household calendar. We review both calendars each evening to make sure we are all on the same page. Daily review of items that need to be done is good for a child with ADHD. It helps them to know what to expect and mentally plan for those things.

Key to Helping Your ADHD Child With Organization and Time Management

Teaching your children these skills will better prepare them to be an ADHD/ADD adult
  • Making daily lists of tasks that need to be completed.
  • Prioritizing tasks on a daily basis. Let them give input into the prioritization of the tasks.
  • Labeling as much as possible around the house so there are no questions on where things go.
  • Create a system for organization and stick to it.
  • Set up a house hold filing system and teach them to file away their own papers for future reference.
  • Develop routines that everyone in the house follows.

Have Fun With It

Have fun with making your home a place of comfort for your children. Make sure they are a part of the decisions that are made with organization and time management. After all, it does affect them. Doing everything for them does not teach them the skills they need for when they get older. Guiding them through things and rewarding them for making good decisions will teach them to think on their own and make better decisions as they get older.

Updated: 02/18/2012, Angel
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Angel on 02/08/2012

You are so right Katie - It is an ongoing thing with us too. Then his ADHD on top of it makes things a lot more confusing.. he has to have structure or he flips out on me. So I try so hard to keep things organized and in place for him and the rest of us.

katiem2 on 02/08/2012

Oh my goodness, you've said a mouthful. I can spend 5 - 6 hours helping my daughter declutter her room just after having it spotless a day before, seriously in one day everything that was in one drawer and well organized is sprinkled though out the room with no rhyme or reason. UGH then the (before mentioned) drawer will be packed with miscellaneous stuff. This is a serious issue with us we work on constantly. I really appreciate your insights.

Angel on 01/23/2012

Brenda - I think teaching it to your students will actually help you. Two of my children have ADHD and whewee.. things are crazy. I have to do things like this to keep everyone on track. I am so sure that I also have it but have never been diagnosed. I probably should go to the doctor and know for sure. Thank you so much for the compliment. That makes me feel so good.. I have done MK for 10 years now off and on. Not like I should. I love the product and at least stay at personal use level. Thank you for reading and commenting.

BrendaReeves on 01/23/2012

This is a great article. I have ADD and organization is my biggest weakness, and I was suppose to be teaching it to my LD students. That was definitely the blind leading the blind. By the way, you are a lovely lady. I'm also a Mary Kay Consultant.

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