10 Tips for Helping Students With ADHD Get Organized

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If your child has ADHD you may be very familiar with their tendency to lose assignments somewhere between school and home, to forget to bring books home for study, to turn in school work late or incomplete, to create an overflowing locker (and desk and book bag) stuffed with endless piles of papers, books, half-eaten lunches, and even notes from the teacher that never make it into your hand. And somehow, even after providing boxes of them, there is no pencil to be found when needed.

Kids with ADHD sometimes get labeled as irresponsible, careless, or lazy. This criticism is not only inaccurate and unhelpful but hurtful.

Chronic disorganization can be debilitating to people with ADHD. Disorganization and forgetfulness are actually both included among the criteria for diagnosing ADHD. Impairments in these areas are often related to executive function deficits that make it harder to plan ahead, remember, prioritize, get started, self-monitor, and complete tasks.

Kids with ADHD often need a lot of structure and support to help with organization, but they can develop good organizational habits early on with your assistance. The first and most important step in helping your child with the organization at school is to work closely and collaboratively with your child's teacher. Good communication between home and school is essential.

Organizational Strategies for School-Aged Kids With ADHD

Here are some tips for helping students with ADHD develop good organizational habits:

  1. Work with your child to set up a specially designated study area at home that is free of distractions. This workspace should be kept well-organized. Help your child do this by leading them through the steps necessary to keep the area neat and clear of unnecessary items. Know that you will need to supervise your child and help them through this process on a regular basis. Make this a part of your daily routine.
  2. Provide useful supplies, such as pencils, pens, paper, ruler, paper clips, pencil sharpener, dictionary, calculator, etc. Label drawers in the study area desk or table and help your child place supplies in the designated drawer.
  3. Work with your child's teacher to set up a system for getting assignments down in a notebook. This documentation will travel back and forth from school to home with your child. This assignment notebook/folder should include a calendar or planner that can be used to keep track of longer-term projects due dates and test dates. Review this calendar regularly with your child. Use the calendar to help your child break down longer projects into smaller segments. Keep in mind that you may need to be creative with your child to help them find a system that works.
  4. Ask the teacher to offer support by gently reminding your child when it is time to write assignments in a notebook. This step ensures that they understand the assignments and checking to see that the assignments are written down correctly in a notebook. At the end of the school day, it is also helpful for the teacher to check to see that appropriate books, papers, and the homework notebook make it into your child's book bag.
  5. If your child has difficulty with handwriting, ask the teacher about giving your child a printed handout of daily assignments that can be included in the homework notebook. Even better if the teacher can provide handouts that have already had three holes punched out in advance and the handouts can be placed directly into the homework notebook.
  6. At the end of homework time before the next school day, review homework papers and books that need to go back into their book bag for school. Supervise your child as they get these items zipped inside the book bag and placed in a designated spot near the door to the house. This way the book bag can easily be found in the morning.
  7. Ask the teacher about scheduling regular times for your child to organize and clean out their desk and locker at school. Be sure to schedule regular times for your child to clean out school backpack and notebooks at home, as well. Understand that your child will need supervision and help with these chores. Guiding your child through these steps and practicing these skills, again and again, is necessary in order for good habits to form.
  8. Designate areas of the desk or locker for specific items. You can even "draw out" these areas with tape to indicate where items should go—for example, notebooks, books, folders, writing utensils, etc. This will make it easier to place items back in the right spot so they can be found when needed.
  9. Purchase a set of color-coded book covers, notebooks, and folders for each subject area. Your child can organize their work by colors. For example, they may choose red for math, yellow for language arts, green for science, etc. Share with the teacher so they can support your child in using this system as well. The teacher can even highlight handouts for each subject by using the corresponding color somewhere on the page.
  10. Set up a motivating reward system to positively reinforce your child as they show improvements in developing more and more organizational skills in their daily life.
2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Magnus W, Nazir S, Anilkumar AC, et al. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing,

  2. Iseman J, Jeweler S, Silverman S. 101 School Success Tools for Students with ADHD. Sourcebooks, Inc.; 2010.

By Keath Low
 Keath Low, MA, is a therapist and clinical scientist with the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina. She specializes in treatment of ADD/ADHD.