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September 28, 2011

Laura’s Blog Entry

We are three weeks into the school year and it seems a good time to share a few things we’ve implemented to make life run more smoothly. Perhaps they will spark a solution that works for any issues with which your child might be struggling.

I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you are a new reader, our daughter was diagnosed with ADHD at age seven. She struggles mostly with organization of her school work and focusing on things if they are not her favorite subjects. As we come up with ways to support her growth in these areas I like to share them here in case anyone else has similar issues. We’ve seen massive growth in her the last two years, but there are still some challenges. Here are a few of our strategies this year:

Daily Bins – Now that Mari is in the eight grade she is juggling different classes taught by different teachers. One idea I had to keep things organized was to have two bins for her school books. One is for her Tuesday and Thursday classes (she has the same four classes both days) and one is for her Wednesday and Friday classes. This has made it so much easier for her to gather her materials each morning. She knows that everything in that day’s bin needs to go with her.

Daily Clean Out – In the past, Mari’s backpack has been a black hole and a source of much weeping and gnashing of teeth. Things disappeared into it never to be found again. Now with our bin system she takes everything out daily and only packs what is needed for the next day. Other years this has been attempted but was a glorious failure. I think since we have the bins, now there is actually a place to put the things that aren’t needed on any given day. Anyway, the point is if your child is organizationally challenged, a daily straightening is the way to go. It might be a fight at first to get it going, but it beats pulling everything out after two months when an important assignment has gone missing.

Turn-In Folder – This is a bright red folder that contains her work that is due each day. It should be empty by the end of the day. It can also be used for work coming home, but needs to be cleaned out regularly. Which brings me to…

Weekly Review – On Fridays, when Mari comes home, we sit down and review her work from the past week that has come back and look at what is coming up the next week. She puts together a plan of which assignments she wants to do on each day over the weekend and what can wait until the following week. We have been able to actually get ahead on some projects by reviewing things once a week. This is something that was a real struggle in the past.

White Board – Every morning I write out the day’s date and what is happening, in order. Any chores are listed, along with homework, guitar lessons and orthodontist appointments. Kids who have trouble transitioning from one thing to the next do better when they see the whole thing in writing. There is less frustration on her part when she knows ahead of time that she is going to have less free time due to an appointment.

Breaks, Breaks, and More Breaks – Mari needs breaks. Lots of them. If she can do something different for fifteen minutes between assignments her focus is much better. She is even getting quite good at watching the clock and managing the breaks. For younger kids a timer can take the heat off the parent as always being the bad guy who has to say, “Time to get back to work!” I am letting her set her own pace with her work and while it might take an extra hour or so to complete it, there is no arguing in the process. A huge win!

Please feel free to leave a comment if you are having any specific organizational challenges concerning school this year. Maybe we can put our heads together and come up with a solution that might help!

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