If you ask any person with ADHD or any high school or middle school student, planners are the bane of our existence. Often, when we receive them, we believe they will change our lives, but then we forget about them two weeks later. I have observed a wide range of different methods, and one size does not fit all, so feel free to try any and all of these ideas to help keep your student organized!
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If your student has a smartphone, there are plenty of apps that can help!
Some of my favorite apps are Google Calendar (free with a lot of different functions such as reminders, color coding options, on-screen widget, and calendar sharing), MyHomework Student Planner (tracks your assignments, exams, important dates, on-screen widget), and MyStudy Life (supports week and day rotation timetables and weekly schedules).
Sticky notes can be used for so much more!
Whenever I received a handout, I would attach a sticky note to the front with the due date and then place it in a file folder alongside all my other papers. I also kept a sticky note on the front of my file folder with important dates that were mentioned. The bright colors really helped me remember to check them daily!
Parents help students with homework accountability.
Have a weekly whiteboard in your home where you can add assignments, exams, etc., from their teachers’ websites to provide reminders of tasks to help your student. This also enables your students to be aware of their schedules in advance, preventing any surprise assignments. A version of this method is called SCRUM boards! They utilize sticky notes on a visual display so that students can keep track of their progress.
Work with the student’s teachers!
Teachers know what they are talking about and have likely worked with other ADHD students. They could have great ideas on how to best manage assignments. Paying attention to your student’s schedule or coordinating with teachers on when work is released may help you identify a good time to plan together throughout the week.
Planners, done right!
This may seem counterintuitive to what I said at the beginning of this post, but when used correctly, planners are amazing! While your ADHD student may forget about their planner, you don’t have to. You can have your student or their teacher write down due dates in their planner so they can show them to you when they get home. This will only work if your student is really anxious about missing classwork or if you, as a parent, are very consistent in checking their planner! This method can also be combined with the whiteboard method in Tip #3. There are numerous ADHD-friendly planners made for neurodivergent brains, so feel free to reach out if you are looking for suggestions!
Ask your students what will help them.
Many students will have an idea of what will help them succeed. Ask for their advice and collaborate with them to develop your own system! The suggestions may seem silly, but in the world of ADHD, silliness can help prevent your student from forgetting. For example, if they like using sticky notes but forget to check the place where they initially put them, you can work with them to find a location they will consistently look to place them..
Utilize untraditional platforms created for other purposes.
For example, Asana, which is typically used in the workplace, can be utilized to create assignments, due dates, subtasks, and more! This task list can be shared with anyone involved in your student’s education so that everyone is on the same page.
Once you find something that works, stick with it! Creating habits can be challenging for neurodivergent brains, as they can truly never do the same things that non-neurodivergent brains can do without thinking. However, establishing meaningful and easy routines that are not energy-intensive and have a low threshold can enable your student to succeed. By developing meaningful habits during their student years, you can help your student flourish once they have left the nest! While ADHD brains struggle with routines, creating a routine that aligns with their brain, rather than working against it, will allow them to thrive!
Written by Jenna Weigand