It’s already October, (which happens to be ADHD awareness month). Are you finding that your child’s homework no longer makes it home nicely placed in its corresponding folder? Or perhaps the planner is not getting the consistent use it once was during those first weeks in September.
Along with the changing of the season and nice crisp fall air comes the realization that some of our kids are seemingly losing their ‘new school year’ organization and focus.
Whether your child is chronically disorganized and distracted, or just simply loses motivation as the school year progresses, there are habits you can encourage now that will make basic task management much easier for your child in the future.
Here are some practical tips to help your child develop organization, planning and time management skills:
Develop a System
- Kids often finish their homework, but are not diligent about the way they organize completed assignments. Help your child develop a system of turning in assignments using one folder, stacking papers inside according to turn-in time/class period. Help your child envision his day, placing the item he will turn in first on top, all the way to last on the bottom of the stack with post-it notes attached to each indicating the time or class period the assignment is due to be turned in. Coach your child to move through his school day from beginning to end, stacking assignments on top of one another with post-its until the assignment that will be turned in last is on at the bottom of the pile.
When your child is finished with homework, encourage him to go through this ‘dress rehearsal’ in his mind of the following day, turning in his assignments in his mind and stacking them accordingly before putting them away. Doing so will help your child develop the ability to use these skills on his own without prompting, eliminating that backpack full of crumpled up papers.
- Encourage the use of analog clocks in your home to track time. Kids are exposed to digital timekeeping on electronics and rarely use traditional analog clocks to monitor their use of time. Have a clock close by, at eye level, while your child is completing tasks to help him begin to notice the time passing as he is working. Visualizing ‘time chunks’ as portions of an analog clock will help your child monitor his usage of time, which is an important skill required for planning.
Assign a job title
- Take advantage of any moment you can assign your child a job title, rather than a task. Encouraging your child to visualize the end product is key. For example, rather than telling your child, “We are going to do 15 minutes of reading,” you could say, “We are going to be expert readers for 15 minutes!” Or, if your child’s room is a disaster, you might say, “Let’s be speedy room cleaners” rather than “clean your room.” Supporting your child in imagining what it would look like to be a speedy room cleaner exercises the executive function capabilities she needs in order to activate those skills. (i.e., a clean room would look this way, I would be doing these things if I imagine myself to be a person who cleans rooms, these are the things I would need to do to prepare for this job as a room cleaner.)
The key to developing these skills is working consistently with your child to help her plan, execute and review outcomes and progress. Eventually, your child will initiate these tasks on her own with mastery.