It occurred to me that in this New Year’s motivational series, I had not included any posts about parenting. So, I am starting a 3-part series here about both parenting and organization – double win! This first one is about helping your kids organize their homework. In the next post we will talk about kids and chores. The final post is going to be about the MOST stressful time – getting your kids ready in the mornings – ugh!
Keep in mind that I’ve been raising ADHD boys for nearly 30 years now. So over the years, I have picked up a few tips on how to keep them on track and motivated. These tips are great for elementary school kids or even teenagers.
Sadly, homework is a fact of life these days. It’s one thing that so many children struggle with, especially ADHD kids. With my kids, homework was their biggest challenge. But I was never inclined to do the helicopter thing and get too involved in their homework. I figured homework was their job and I let them get on with it for the most part, although I was always available if they had a question. But I did find some ways to help support them while still keeping my fingers out of the pie!
For my kids, half the battle with homework was just keeping track of the darn papers. So, I had three basic strategies to help them keep their papers organized.
The Homework Folder
Backpack management is critical for most kids. I don’t know how they do it, but that backpack becomes a huge black hole for everything under the sun. It tends to suck in homework papers and never give them back. So, for my kids, our strategy was ONE homework folder. Just a basic folder with pockets. The left pocket was labeled “Homework to do” and the right pocket was labeled “Completed Homework”.
It’s such a stupidly simple trick, but it helped a TON. Otherwise, I could end up waiting 10 minutes for him to dig through his notebook, text book and several folders to find the assignment he needed to work on. Also, if your child is a visual person, out of sight is literally out of mind (I’m that way too!). When they see 2 or 3 assignments in their folder, it gives them a good way to estimate their workload.
The Homework Station
We also set up a Homework Station at the kitchen table. It was a huge fight, but if I let him do his homework anywhere else in the house, there were too many distractions. And I could keep an eye on him as I was doing my own chores. So, I set a rule that all homework must be done at the kitchen table. What’s more, I set another rule that his papers HAD to be within 5 feet of his backpack. It sounds silly, but it kept papers from ending up under the bed, in the hallway, or God knows where.
Since we also need to eat at the kitchen table, I set up one of those plastic organizers – the accordion kind with an elastic band around them. I kept this supplied with pens, extra paper, graph paper, post-it notes, and a small calculator. Then at the end, it all goes back into his backpack for dinner time. This also helped with the “Jack-in-the-box syndrome” of getting up every five minutes to get something he “needed”. If you have more than one child, you could easily set up one of these for each.
TV, of course, is the curse of the ADHD kid, but I did allow him to listen to music. I do that at work too. I find the act of putting on my headphones gives me a cue that it’s time to settle down and focus. Although as he got older, the cell phone became something of a problem. If I caught him fooling with it, I would just make him turn off the WiFi. So he could listen to music without checking Emails or getting sucked into Google’s clutches. See my related article on Managing Teen Boys and their Beloved Electronics.
I think a launch pad is an essential part of kid wrangling. And to be honest it helps me tremendously too. Now if I could just get my husband to use it – he is always forgetting things! What is a launch pad, you ask? It’s just a designated spot for items that need to be brought with you. For me, it’s the chair at the desk in my kitchen. For my son, it is an area by the door. It’s out of the line of sight to anyone coming in, but it’s visible to him as he is going out.
This specific spot is where they keep their backpack, their lunch, their jacket, umbrella, mittens, permission slips, or any other item they need to take with them for the day. We are going to talk about getting ready in the mornings in our 3rd post in the series, but the launch pad is a very important part of completing the homework chain. The idea is to have everything important gathered in one place, so they aren’t running around the house at the last minute, forgetting half their stuff. This is a critical tactic for visual people.
These tips will help a lot with getting your child to helping them keep on top of their homework.
Post #1 – Organizing their Homework
Post #2 – Organizing their Chores
Post #3 – Organizing their Morning Routines