Back to School Tips for Students with ADHD


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.


Back to School Tips for Students with ADHD graphic


How to Organize Kids’ Art and School Work


What to save and how to save your kiddo’s school work a common challenge for parents. The papers flood in weekly, there’s so many papers, and there is no time to review that papers. Handwritten stories are mixed in with worksheets. In May, a entire desk worth of supplies, papers and possibly yucky food comes how in a bag from school. For families with multiple kids, this is repeated over and over. Many of us are too busy to do something or too overwhelmed.  Help is here!


Define what is precious

Through many years of working with parents, it is hard to know what is defined as precious.  There are multiple scribbles, holiday place mats, spelling quizzes, prolific art work, macaroni necklaces and science boards.  There is a massive compilation of stuff! By defining what is precious before you begin helps you sort through the papers and stuff.

My definition of precious may not match your definition. It is an emotional attachment depending on many things.  Try to drill down this definition. Here are my thoughts.

  • Artwork that shows personality, effort, and originality.
  • Paper work that shows accomplishment and originality.

This gives you a lot of open ended options for you.  You can best decide with a little thought ahead of getting your work started.


Sort and edit

Sorting and editing are difficult. Many times it depends on how long it has been between the arrival of the papers, the amount of papers and the way you are sorting. Pace yourself and set up bins to sort into as a first pass on organizing.  Label the bins to be clear what goes where.

  • If your art is a combination of all your kiddos’ stuff, sort first into bins that are named by child.
  • Next group art by time period, such as pre-school, elementary, middle school and high school. Add summer camp and art school if necessary.
  • Assess how precious the art is for you to keep.


Organize and Display

There are many options to organize, display and share your kiddo’s art. It helps to know what you want as the end result. Your vision can guide what you keep and how you want to organize the materials that remain.

  • Take a photo or scan the keepsake and create a coffee table art book. This is by far the most fun and popular. It is easy to keep on a bookshelf.
  • Send art work and papers off to grandparents or other special family friends.
  • Keep the keepsakes in a large fed ex box by year in the top of a closet.
  • Keep the art in a portfolio under a bed, in the back of a closet.
  • For a monthly art rotation, set up a “clothesline” with 6 clothespins on an wall in their bedroom. Another Create a “gallery wall” in your kiddo’s room for an art display area.
  • Use a file tote for each child and a expandable folder for each school year.


Maintain Your Organization

Maintaining your organization takes practice. Start by gathering your kiddos’ art and papers each week in your Command Center. That is the hub of all active papers in your home. Have a slot for each kiddo’s stuff and have them drop it in weekly.  After a month, go over the items and share what was special. This is a great time to display or edit.  It prevents a year’s worth of editing at one time.  Items can be moved to an auxiliary space to keep until the end of the year. Each summer plan to create your special keepsake item or move all the items to archive storage.  If you are able to sort quarterly, that still keeps your routine together.


Apps to help

There are several options to help you with organizing your kiddos’ stuff. These work a variety of ways to help you document, scan and do the next steps.


What’s best about sorting, editing, and organizing these keepsakes is the joy you have in seeing your kids’ skills, strengths and talents!

Family Mottos with Meaning


Family mottos family values


In our 21st century lives, families are transforming daily.  Families are adding members, refashioning who is a family member and reinventing family structure.  Just how do we keep sharing our family values, inviting inclusiveness and minimizing destructive and hurtful conversations?  Having a family motto helps all your family define what’s important.


Family mottos not family bickering

It’s all too often we find ourselves saying, keep your hands to yourself and pick up your stuff. We can fashion that into a family motto that shares how we respect each other and take care of our belongings.  It’s more about how we treat each other that we want to convey to our family.

Here’s some family mottos ” Read more

How to Keep Organized Until the End of School

organized for school



It’s the last quarter of the school year and summer is around the corner. It’s also the hardest time to keep motivated for students.  Regardless of whether your student had a successful school year or not, you want to help them end strong. Here are 4 tips to keep in mind as you keep organized until the end of school.


Keep organized with routines

As it stays lighter longer, it’s harder to keep your evening routines in place. It’s also hard to get up as daylight comes later.  Keep routines like homework time and evening wind down at the same hour as all year long. A good night’s rest makes it easier to get up in the dark. Starting homework and packing up the back pack at the same time makes sure that all homework is completed and returned to school.


Keep prioritizing organization

At this point if you look in your student’s backpack, there’s papers everywhere and no order in binders.  Get everything back in order with your student once a week to keep organization a priority.  Remove the papers that are not needed in school and place these in an accordion file that stays at home to use for semester exams.  Replace pens, pencils and other tools so the back pack is fully stocked for work.


Keep organized with visual reminders

Your student’s planner may not be used completely as they slip into the “why does it matter now” phase of school.  Use post it notes and dry erase boards to help reminder them why writing in their planner matters.  Use your family calendar and family meeting to share your own stories of why you write stuff down.  Most student’s hate being told what to do, so keep reminders visual.


Keep the end in mind as you move through the final phases of the school year.  It’s about keeping on keeping on!  A big finish makes the year as successful as can be.


More tips for student organizing here!

4 Smart Student Strategies

student organizing


The school year is well underway.  It’s time to think about how successful your student strategies are.  Are you getting the grades you want? Are your strategies helping you work smarter not harder? If the answer is no to either of these questions, check out these 4 smart student strategies to make a difference.


Get in a groove

Great routines help you get the grades you want.  A routine is a daily habit or series of habits.  This includes recording your homework in a planner or on your smartphone, getting started with your homework at about the same time each day, and finishing up at a good time to get in bed.  Routines are not easy for everyone, but a timer and smart phone reminders can help too.  Be sure to have a great planner for school and a clock in your study space.


Study space

Your study space needs to be distraction free and inviting to help you make the most of your study time.  A distraction free environment means clear of clutter and easy to work in.  Your family dining area or office can be one of the best spots for this.  Your room is usually one of the worst spots for this.  Set aside your devices or use the tech tools below to stay on track.  Set yourself up for success by pulling together all your tools and set up a space that works for you.


Plan for your papers

Many schools are going paperless with online tools to learn. However, we still have some  papers no matter.  Create a paper management system that works for you.  It can be a single binder with tabbed slash pockets or an accordion file.  Have a small file box with hanging files for each subject for papers that you have finished with but need for later. Start a routine of refreshing your paper plan and filing these papers weekly.


Tech tools

We love our smartphones and there are many tools we can use.  Here are some of my favorites:

Know your style and know how to study.  It’s not just about spending the time, it’s about making the time valuable. Take a quick learning styles quiz to learn about your best modality to study.  You are ready to make the grades you deserve by learning more about yourself.

Student success: Apps and more

student success apps and more


Student success depends on organization.  That organization includes recording, planning and executing assignments.  It requires attention and focus during school and after school. In the 21st century, education has moved beyond paper and pencil to technology in and out of the classroom.  Apps are a great way to add organization to your student’s work.


 Get social

When I was in school, we huddled around the television on snowy mornings, eager for a closing announcement. Today, many school districts share this information via the web and social media. Get yourself in the loop this school year and visit your district’s website to find the following information:

  • Your school’s and/or district’s Twitter feed
  • Any associated Facebook accounts
  • Classroom-specific websites
  • Classroom Blackboard accounts and mobile applications
  • Teacher blogs

Check these weekly to be sure you are up to date.


Student apps

Getting your homework done is a matter of consolidating information.  Students have to look on the board, check the teacher’s website and often look at other online spots.   Using a homework app can help you capture it all in one spot.

  • MyHomework  syncs across devices so you can easily access your classes and assignments anytime and anywhere.
  • Skoach has an integrated task-list and calendar for student’s to coordinate classes, tasks and extracurricular activities.
  • Just taking a photo with your smart phone of the assignments listed on the board and then recapping these on your paper planner can work too!


Paperless in school

Schools are starting to use technology primarily for assignments.  In a recent Time article, textbooks and worksheets are stored in the cloud.  Your student should be familiar with these apps to use at home and school to consolidate where they store their work.

  • In Dropbox, students have access to documents on their computers, phones, or tablets. They can edit docs, automatically add photos, and work with videos.
  • Evernote: Take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders and makes notes searchable.

Study apps

Studying has taken on new options with apps.  These apps are outstanding ways for students to use their learning styles.  With not only visual, auditory and kinesthetic cues, apps make studying more focused, collaborative and interesting.

  • StudyBlue is a collaborative tool for learning vocabulary and concepts.
  • Quizlet helps students learn vocabulary.
  • Essentials by AccelaStudy helps students learn a language.
  • KhanAcademy has math and science tutorials.

Have an app that has worked well for your student?


More ideas for successful student strategies here.





Back to School and Back to Routines for Everyone


back to school and back to routines

Classes have already started in many places and around Houston.  Football season is around the corner.  Knowing its time to get back to routines is part of the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall.  Our routines may have faltered during the hot Summer, but these tried and true routines make a difference in easing our stress.   Back to school means back to routines for moms, dads and everyone!

Your Bedtime

It’s easy to get to bed later and later during the Summer.  It stays light late and it is hard to wind down. Get started getting ready for bed earlier so you can get a great night’s rest. Most of us truly need 8 hours of sleep a night to do our best.


Your Lists

There seems to be much more on our plate during this time of year. Make it easy with making lists. It takes a lot to keep remembering all that we need to do.  Your list can be digital or paper.  Write stuff down and then prioritize for the day.


Organize and take stock

Stuff may get a little chaotic during the Summer.  All of a sudden your closet, your supplies and your pantry are disorganized.  Take a little time during August to get them back to their regular order.  If you have clothes you have not worn all Summer, it’s time to donate them.  Gather your office supplies together.  Do you have  a good routine for putting back your supplies? Simplify your access to items if you have trouble. Straighten items and review what is in your pantry. Create a checklist on paper or with an app to make shopping easier. Just giving each of these areas a little attention will make each day easier.


Your Planner

Summer fun is often spontaneous, but Fall has lots and lots of activities coming up.  Get back to the routine of entering dates in your planner as soon as you know them.  Enter all dates from the school calendar, sports calendars, church calendars and any other activities onto your planner so these are all consolidated.  Having all the dates in one spot makes it easy to see and know what is coming up.


Check out my Back to School board on pinterest for other Back to School ideas.

Back To School Beyond the Basics Seminar

Back to School

Back to School 

Beyond the Basics

It’s Time for a Fresh Start to a New School Year!


 Go beyond basics… learn different approaches, using innovative tools and apps,
all designed to help your student succeed.


Sunday, August 24, 2014


Thursday, September 23, 2014



Register here!



Second Semester Student Organizing Strategies


student organizing strategies

School work gets harder, notebooks look shabbier, and motivation gets more difficult during second semester.  As your student struggles with school, it’s time to reinvigorate some student organizing strategies to push forward and end the year strong.  Second semester student organizing strategies help you and your student with paper and time management.

  •  Put routines back into place.  Spot light starting homework at a set time, ending the night with the back pack by the back door, and getting a good night’s rest. As the school year drags on, we can be less consistent about routines. Make routines a priority by sharing your plan and getting everyone together at a family meeting.
  • Talk through the homework folder with your student. Be sure all homework and work to be completed is placed in this spot and returned to it when work is completed. Purchase a new homework folder or add a slash pocket in the front of the notebook just for this.
  • Purchase some washi or colored duct tape and get your student’s notebooks back in order.  Tape it all back together with this creative, functional tape.  Review tabbed slash pocket dividers (affiliate link for Student Products) and see if these need to be replaced or can make it to the end of the year.  Be sure each subject has a specific labelled area.  Create a file box with hanging files, one per subject, to drop in papers to archive. Less paper in the notebook makes keeping it orderly easier.  Every paper should have a spot, not be placed in a book, locker or backpack.
  • Gather resources for difficult subjects. Khan Academy offers science and math resources. is available for literature.  When you student struggles with subject matter, find alternatives and additions for complex subject matter.
  • Make studying more fun!  It’s not about reading the same information over and over. It is about mixing it up to make studying more fun and easier.  Try playing ping pong while studying vocabulary, a playlist just for homework time, a study site like StudyBlue, or other ways to add action.
  • Every student needs a planner that works for them.  Add a binder clip to open immediately to the right spot.  Ask a family member or friend who values their planner to share with your student why to keep up to date in and use a planner.

Invigorating organizing at the end of the year makes for a successful year.   What’s working in your home to end the year strong?

See more Successful Student Strategies on my pinterest board.

Join my newsletter for organizing and productivity ideas all year long!

Back to School: Student Organizing

Student Organizing


There are really no classes that teach organizing to your student.  Teachers will assign ways to organize a notebook or keep up with papers in a way they think will work for your student. But organizing styles vary.  Here are some ways to help your middle and high school student get organized for school.

  • Take a trip to a local retailer to talk about the planners that are available. Most students need a week at a glance planner. It can be a medium or large size, preferably spiral bound to fully open, and with an array of spaces to write in assignments.  Have your student talk through how they will use the planner, how it will fit in their backpack, and how quickly they can get it out to write in their assignments.  Writing down each assignment is a critical factor in getting homework done.   If your student is dismisses the idea of a planner, you can start with an open pad of paper or even index cards.  Students need to write stuff down.
  • Start talking about times to start and end homework.  Our students are busy and have a lot on their plate. Talk about how long does it take to do homework.   Most students do best with a short break before starting homework and knowing to finish by a certain time.  Having time on the weekend is important for projects and getting a little ahead each week. 
  • Set up a space for homework that promotes productivity.  The dining room is a great spot to work because there are few distractions.  Stock a caddy with the tools needed, like pens, stapler, scissors, index cards and tape.
  • Establish a homework folder.  This is the one place all homework goes to when assigned and ends up in when completed.  Having a single spot to put any and all homework and notes makes it easy to find and turn in assignments.
  • Kids are overwhelmed by paper too.  Set up one notebook that holds all the subjects.  It’s easier to keep up with one notebook than seven. In the notebook use tabbed slash pockets for each subject. Papers slip in and out easily without needing a hole punch.  Purchase a small file box and label tabbed hanging files with each subject.  Once a marking period, sit with your student while cleaning out from the notebook to the file.

What strategies does your student use to organize?