Advice from a professional organizer on ADHD

Q“How can I help my son, who has ADHD, to remember to bring his homework, books and lunch to school each day? I run to his school at least twice a week to bring him what he left at home that morning.

It is essential that your son prepares his backpack the day before and leaves it – perhaps even blocking it – the door by which he leaves. For things he takes every day, I suggest making a mnemonic sung to the tune of “head, shoulders, knees and toes” but modified for his articles. So it could be: “Lunch, homework, keys and phone”. Of course, this does not apply to one-time items, such as clearance slips, or weekly items, such as sports shoes and musical instruments.

Weekly and regular routines can go on a big weekday matrix that hangs on the door, so he knows Tuesday night to pack his shoes for the gym on Wednesday. Unique items can be jotted down on a neon post-it note or jotted down on a phone with reminder text or a memo, whichever is most convenient and effective for him at the time. Its most valuable tool, however, is you.

[Read: The Messy Student’s Guide to Order]

It may take a month for him to get into the habit of packing the night before, checking the matrix and reminder notes, and putting everything in front of the door. You should be there in the morning to “perform the melody”. A good month of this should make it a habit. You may not completely eliminate your trips to school, but they should decrease. And best of all, Mom, you’ll have taught him a valuable organizational system that he can use for the rest of his life.

School organization: next steps

Susan C. Pinsky is a professional organizer specializing in ADHD. She is the author of Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD and The Fast and the Furious 5-Step Organization Solution(#CommissionsEarned).

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Jeremy S. McLain