Organizational Help for Students with ADHD: Essentials of a School Survival & Success Skills Kit

Many parents and children have asked for help in getting their student organized. Although there is no one single organizational approach that is appropriate for everyone, consider the suggestions below and modify it to meet your own individual needs.

I suggest getting one large binder. I like the Case It available at Office Depot for about $15, but others will do as well. The Case It is great because it has a detachable file folder to file away old papers. Once you detach it, you also end up with a couple of extra storage pockets. Look for a binder that is secure. Zippers and Velcro closures are great for kids who lose things.

Get one folder for each class. Try to get one of every color. Be sure they can fit into the binder. Label the left side of the folder as “Take home- work to be completed.” Once the work is done, move it to the right side, which you label as “Done-Turn in.” A simple glance at the folder is all it takes then to check if everything is done. If you are leaving for school in the morning and see something still on the left side, you forgot to do something!

Have a different place to keep old papers. You may want to study from these later. Label and color-code these files too. Once graded work is returned to you, file it in the appropriate file. Again, the Case It comes with a detachable file folder ideal for this purpose. Monthly, parents may want to review this file and help the student thin it out and dispose of things no longer needed.

Middle-school and high-school students will need enough notebooks for each class. I prefer the slim ones. Then you can fit some in your binder if you have to. Also, look for notebooks with perforated pages. That way, if you need loose-leaf paper for assignments, it will tear out neatly. Color-code the notebooks with that class’s corresponding folder.

Consider getting the new stretchable fabric book covers. These will keep your books protected and make them easy to identify in your book-bag and locker if you color code them with your notebooks and folders. Put some thought in your choice of color. It will help you remember. For example, “In history we learn about a lot of bloody battles so History will be red.” Or “I hate Trigonometry; it makes me blue.” Once you have color-coded, a quick glance in your book-bag will tell you if you have all you need. Look for three itemsof the same color: Book, notebook and folder. If you don’t want to get the book covers, colored dot stickers on the spines work too.

Get several plastic sheet protectors to put into your binder. You can place the next several items in these. You can download some organizational forms by clicking on the hot links to follow.

Insert your personalized reminder checklists of all those things you otherwise forget. If you put the checklist in the plastic sleeve, then you can check off the items right on the plastic with a dry erase marker. Then wipe it off and start fresh for the next day.

Insert your weekly homework log sheet.

You may also want to include some calendar sheets to keep track of longer term projects and important dates, such as exams, and best of all, breaks!

Middle-school and high-school students may also need to have a copy of their daily class schedule and room numbers if they cannot remember it.

On the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire one of the “life-lines” is phone-a-friend. Peers who are good students can be your life-line in school too if you forget an assignment or don’t understand it once you get home. Keep the phone numbers of responsible friends handy too.

If you tend to lose things a lot, be sure your name and address or phone number are on everything. For safety, you may want to label things in an inconspicuous place.

Other schedules might also be necessary, such as after school activities.