Back to School Tips for Students with ADHD
Was last year’s virtual and in person school a chaotic, disorganized situation? Was it common for your student to miss assignments, turn in papers late or not be prepared for a test? These are some of the effects for students with ADHD. They have week executive function which interferes with their ability to organize, prioritize, and analyze. Use these strategies for your disorganized student to create and maintain order. Most importantly, your student will get better grades this year and feel better about school success.
Your Coaching Role
Organizational skills for students with ADHD do not come naturally. You are the coach partnering with your student on the basics of planning and organization. By coaching, you are involving your student in setting up organization systems with choices and decisions. A team approach provides support and accountability. You are sharing ways to practice these skills, systems, and routines. These might be a work in progress as you both find innovative, resourceful ways to be organized and productive.
Organizing Skills and Systems
At the foundation of all organization is using tools for planning and productivity.
A calendar is a planning and initiating tool. Calendars offer a place to park assignments and projects. Entering all activities helps a student start to see time with a “visual record of activities” and using verbal processing is auditory processing about the details, interactions, and emotions of that record. Calendars offer accountability because deadlines activate the ADHD brain. Calendars come in all shapes and sizes, both online and paper. It may be hard to choose one calendar however match the needs of your student with the right fit.
Paperwork is a struggle for students with ADHD. Think about the paper that your student works with daily. There are different “filing” systems needed for this. A notebook is the spot for daily paperwork. Use a slash pocket for homework at the front of the notebook and one for each subject in the binder. Set up a file box for paper that does not need to be accessed daily. In the file box, color code the files to store papers by subject area. Papers are added to the file box at the end of a marking period. This s great preparation and life skill for future paper management.
School supplies require organization. School supplies can be easily organized in a clear zipper case, a section of a backpack or in a caddy at the homework station. Replenish supplies as these are often lost. Choose supplies the student loves because that is an incentive for being organized and keeping up with supplies.
Maintaining and emphasizing school success routines
Students with ADHD need a higher level of accountability on their schoolwork. Check planners and review online assignments weekly with your student. Sit as a body double if your student is having trouble settling in and getting started. Encourage a weekly re-organization and clean out of papers that can be stored in the file box or in an archive art container.
Encourage your student’s success as you continue coaching. Be patient, expect multiple first tries of new systems, and use accountability wisely to help create an organized, positive, and productive school year.
Amazing how many more posts are about “going back to school.” It feels like summer is still in full swing, yet I know that many students are getting ready to return. You provided excellent ideas for helping students with ADHD to feel more organized and in control of their time, stuff, and assignments. It’s a lot to juggle, so having solid systems and someone to help with setup and check-ins can make all the difference in the student feeling successful.
Even though kids often complain about routines, I think they really do thrive when they are established. Routines reduce our cognitive load, which frees up space for the decisions that need to be made.
Great image of parents as the coach!
@Seana – using coaching as a way to promote teen independence makes things easier for everyone.
@Linda – summer has come to a close here sadly. Getting organized makes the transition easier.