Tips for Parents to Help Kids Stay Organized and to Follow Directions

Staying organized is a major task for many adults. It is especially difficult for children, painfully so for some.

• Schedule. Keep the same routine every school day, from wake-up time to bedtime. Include time for homework, outdoor play, and indoor activities. I would consider homework before other activities to avoid bedtime battles later. Keep the schedule on the refrigerator, on a dry erase or bulletin board in a location where any family member will see it. Write changes on the schedule as far in advance as possible.

• Empty the backpack at least twice during the school week. A plethora of papers come home from school every day. Important papers tend to find a place tucked away in the bottom of the backpack. Consider doing this task with your child

• Organize everyday items. Have a particular place for everything. This includes clothing, backpacks, and toys. Keep the backpack somewhere near the door to exit the home in the morning, pre-packed with homework and any notes to the school.

Help your child get into the habit of putting all school materials in the backpack before bedtime by assisting them to get started.

• Provide all necessary supplies for school and have a work space to do homework. The homework space may be the kitchen or dining room table. It is not necessary to have a special room, just a designated homework “station” that has enough lighting and as free from distractions as your child needs.

It is quite possible that your child will need some distraction, like music and the ability to move around. Children with hyperactivity often do well multitasking and work better if allowed to move. The secondary activity shouldn’t require much brain power in order to help the child focus on the primary task.
Too much structure may cause an overreaction and shut down. Little work will be accomplished.

• Use homework and notebook organizers. Use organizers for school material and supplies. Stress to your child the importance of writing down assignments and bringing home the necessary books. If your child is having difficulty writing from the board in school, ask the teacher for a printed copy of the homework.

Label your child’s school materials with his or her name.
Color coding folders can help keep homework organized.
If homework is taking too long even though the child is hard at work, draw a line on the homework paper after the last problem solved or question answered. Sign parent name and length of time it took to complete work up to that line. Too much time spent on homework may stall the learning process.

• Be clear and consistent. Children with ADHD need consistent rules they can understand and follow.

• Give praise or rewards when rules are followed. Children with ADHD often receive and expect criticism. Look for good behavior, and praise it. Do not use money or food as reward. Encouraging words and hugs work wonders.

Join me for the next blog about three students with ADHD at various ages.

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  1. I just had a discussion about praise with my ADHD daughter. I spend money on her all the time for things she likes and needs, but she just told me that she needs to hear verbal praise. That was something I did not think to do.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Yvette! I hope all is well. I only hear from Linda at Dysart these days. I’m glad the blog was of benefit. Your daughter is at an age where she knows what she needs, emotionally. It’s wonderful that you have a relationship where she feels safe and comfortable letting you know.

      I will have a few more blogs on ADHD and will probably shift to a different topic – I’m thinking Multiple Intelligences. If there is another topic you are interested in, let me know and I’ll include it in the blog feed.

      My book is beginning to take off! It’s a slow but steady growth. The assistant principal at Thompson Ranch Elementary has a print copy if you want to take a peek. The eBook has a lot of cool live links and is inexpensive.

      Take care and keep me posted!

  2. These are great ideas for parents. My daughter in law using these ideas, she even has my grand kids put their outfit for the next day (including socks and undies) on a hanger before they go to bed. She says it’s so much easier to just have everything ready especially if you end up rushing in the morning.

    I really like the idea of parents signing homework and putting down the time, when homework begins to take up too much time.

    Thanks so much for sharing.


    • Hi Linda!

      Your daughter-in-law seems like she has a good handle on things. A relaxed start to the day is great for everyone.

      The line drawn for homework fatigue was something I heard about years back when I was a Resource Teacher. I think it helps the teacher have a better feel for the amount of work an individual child can handle. Some kids zip right through 20 math problems while others may not get finished with more than 4 problems in an hour. Frustration builds up and then problems begin.

      I’m glad to know the information is useful.


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