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
Here are some other post you may enjoy:
How Does Your Clutter Affect Your Children?
Organizing the Disorganized or ADHD Child
At My House Chores Aren’t Fair and That’s OK
I call it the launchpad the “staging area”… same idea. I find this solves a multitude of problems, and come sin handy when you think of something you need for tomorrow at 1:00 in the afternoon. Put it in your launchpad and you can stop worrying about forgetting it.
Agreed. My poor brain gets SO full, getting even one thing off my mind is a big help. In fact, I’ve got my papers all packed up and laid out for a board meeting I have tomorrow and my laptop bag and purse are sitting right next to it, so all I have to do is grab some entrees out of the freezer for lunch and I’m ready to launch!
A launch pad is important for adults, too. 🙂 It really does change the day.
Yes, it is literally a survival mechanism for me.
The “homework station” seems to work well for us even though it is a constant battle to get our kids to remember the process! Stopping by from SITS!
That’s true. It’s always such a tough time to get kids into any habits. My struggle is that routines and habits are hard for me, so I had a difficult time teaching them to my kids and I think I’ve only been partially successful.
Adrian first of all your WordPress switch looks great! I love the layout, and ease of finding everything. You have such great suggestions here. I always feel like we need to do a better job at organizing homework, and actually keeping it organized after. Those backpacks are indeed like black holes haha. I love the launch pad idea. We have a small closet where they hang their school coats, and backpacks but I think we need a space for library books, signed papers for the teacher etc. Happy weekend. XOXO, Elif
Thanks for stopping by. I was so apprehensive about the Word Press switch, but now I can hardly remember what it was like on Blogger.
Every since we installed a launch pad we have noticed marked improvement in our ability to keep stuff together. And, it’s also cut down on the number of assignments turned in with grease spots splattered all over them. My son’s teacher probably thought we ate grease burgers with grease sauce and a side of grease with an ice cold glass of grease to wash it down every night it was so bad. Thinks for linking up this week. Appreciate the love:)
I’m trying all of these, succeeding at some.
I like your launch pad idea. We could use on of those for grown-ups too.
I’m stopping over from SITS – Happy Wednesday! I love, love, love (did I mention love?) the idea about the sibling charging $1 to complete a task. ;o) That’d be totally great incentive to do it yourself. I sort of wish that it worked with husbands, though (I’d pay mine $1 to load the dishwasher for sure!).
Have a great rest of the week!
Ok, I’m addicted to chore lists! If only my husband would abide by one!
All great tips! Happy New Year! I hope your inversion and cold snap clears soon!