Once you take the anger and frustration out of the equation, it’s much easier to focus on the strategies that will help your son or daughter be more successful. One place to start is right at the beginning, while you are buying your back-to-school supplies.
One of the biggest pitfalls of the Jr/Sr High life is the “black hole” backpack. This is just a killer for ADHD kids. You want to look for a backpack with just a few pockets, and a simple notebook set-up that will minimize any confusion.
I chose a Trapper Keeper notebook with front & back pockets and dividers for each subject. I labeled the front & back pockets very clearly as “PAPERS TO GO HOME” and “PAPERS TO TURN IN” so there is only ONE place to keep papers that need to travel back & forth. Simplicity is the key – it makes it so confusing for these kids if they have multiple places to look for their things.The biggest pitfall of kids is the black-hole backpack. Make it easier! Click To Tweet
The planner is also a critical tool with multiple classes. You have to get them into the habit of writing down their assignments for every class, every day. Our rule is that if he leaves it at school, he has to go to bed early – a fate worse than death in his book. He also has to write something for every class – even if it is “No Homework”. Otherwise, he has to use the “phone a friend” option to call one of his friends from that class and get them to confirm the homework assignment. That stops the “I don’t have any homework today” excuse right in it’s tracks. And besides, “it’s totally embarrassing, Mom!” That makes it a great deterrent.
Setting up the study space is the next step. Structure is SO critical for these kids. Set up a specific time and place for studying that works for your particular kid. A visual learner may need to have everything out where he can see it, while a different type of kid can only focus on one assignment at a time and can’t have anything lying around she might play with. Use a timer and schedule frequent breaks (also timed). Don’t forget the importance of praise and encouragement. Focus on progress, not perfection.Structure is very important for ADHD or disorganized kids Click To Tweet
Consider locking up the electronics until homework time is over – we have an on-going power struggle with that one. Mine isn’t as much of a text-a-holic as most kids, but he can’t bear to do the simplest task without his music. Then his ADHD gets worse when he has access to the Internet – he suddenly HAS to look up obscure bits of knowledge. I need to nip that in the bud. I have a similar problem at work, so sometimes I keep a pencil box handy to put my phone in time-out mode. We both have that bad “Squirrel!” problem that is typical of ADD/ADHD.
Zap Parties Strategy
One thing our school does is ZAP parties. ZAP stands for Zeroes Aren’t Permitted. They have parties every two weeks that can only be attended by the kids who have no missing work. Kids who do have missing assignments get to spend the party in study hall playing catch up. That is a huge incentive for these kids. Even if your school doesn’t have something like that, you could do your own for your kids and her friends. Maybe set something up to take turns hosting with a few other parents.ZAP Parties (Zeroes aren't permitted) are a helpful incentive for homework. Click To Tweet
And above all, repeat to yourself every day. I survived my school days, my parents did too, and so did all my friends. Our kids will be just fine.
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