Staying organized can be a struggle for students with ADHD. It definitely was for me. Unfortunately, being disorganized has negative effects on academic performance. However, there are three easy strategies (life hacks) for those of us with ADHD that make school easier. I know they did for me.
1. Keep an idea journal, rather than a calendar-based assignment book
Provide these students with a blank journal and encourage them to write down their ideas, thoughts, AND school assignments.
Typical calendar-based agendas can be effective, but getting those with ADHD to consistently use one is nearly impossible. Yes, ADHD students need structure, but structure does not occur naturally to them. However, creative problem-solving does come naturally to them.
ADHD minds can be highly creative, but their fast pace causes them to forget ideas and thoughts just as quickly as they generate them. Tracking their ideas in a blank journal allows them to manage their creativity in whatever structure makes sense to them.
Students with ADHD may avoid traditional assignment books, but they love journals that help harness their creativity.
How: Instead of a calendar-based assignment book, provide these students with a blank journal and encourage them to write down their ideas, thoughts, AND school assignments.
2. One binder for all classes
Provide them with one (large) three-ring binder or accordion folder to store all of their class materials, rather than individual folders for each class.
These students struggle with keeping track of multiple folders and binders. They frequently leave them at school or their home, and often lose them entirely.
One large binder ensures that no one folder gets left at home and gives students a home base for their course materials.
How: Provide students a large three-ring binder with separate sections for each class.
3. Utilize a pencil case
Without a pencil case, students with ADHD will store their pencils in unconventional places throughout the day. This causes them to frequently misplace and run out of writing utensils — a distraction that can easily derail their work.
Students with ADHD may have difficulty focusing, but they also have the power of hyper focus. When they find themselves engaged in an assignment, but fail to find a pencil to complete it, they miss a critical opportunity to get work done. Pencil cases allow students to make the most of their hyper focus.
How: Provide students with a pencil case, and keep it inside of the large binder to ensure it is always with them.
Hopefully these tips will help students excel in the classroom and build life-long habits for staying organized.