It’s hard to believe, and painful to announce, but school is about to start for many children in the United States. Our four boys head back to the classroom next Monday, and three (gulp) of them will be in high school. I’d be grateful if someone can explain to me how the babies I had last week have suddenly turned into teenagers. I once read, “The minutes drag but the days fly.” For those of you with younger kids, repeat this to yourself often, and enjoy the minutes. But I’m getting sidetracked! Going back to school means new teachers, classes, friends, and subjects, all of which can be difficult for our inattentive children. Your kids need your help to get off on the right foot. So, here’s your back to school assignment:
SCHOOL SUPPLIES. Now is the best time to buy supplies. Everything is on sale, so it’s affordable to stock up. It’s also wise to have everything on hand so when a project or assignment is due, we don’t have to run to the store for anything. I’ve posted my very long ADHD supply list, but here are a few things that have particularly helped my guys:
Permanent markers are terrific for labeling, which helps lost things find your child. Jackets, sweatshirts, bookbags, lunches, rulers, everything can be labeled, especially since the new silver permanent marker has been introduced. I write our last name on the side of textbooks, and even if I have to pay a fine, it isn’t so steep as paying for a lost book.
Paper. Grid paper helps your child keep the numbers lined up in math. Wide ruled notebook paper provides a bit more room for neatness. Cardboard or plastic covers on theme books last a lot longer.
Index Cards turn classroom notes and basic facts into flashcards. Store them in a zip lock bag labeled with your permanent marker.
An electronic dictionary is an invaluable tool for children who have to write definitions of vocabulary words. The definitions are much shorter than in a book, and are easier to copy because they are displayed a few lines at a time.
Two drawer file cabinets are great organizers. Each of our boys has one, and everything for the next day goes in or on it: books, notes, clothes and shoes, sports equipment, lunches and projects. It’s also the place I toss anything I find around the house. I’ve even got a file cabinet for me!
Planners. Every child needs to use some sort of planner. It’s a life skill. When our boys were in elementary school, I took a marble front notebook, and labeled each page with a day. One page per day minimizes distractions and allows BIG handwriting for those kids with horrible penmanship. As the years progressed, our homemade planner evolved into the PAC-kit, a downloadable planner that has helped many children get and stay on track at school.
Organize. While we’re on the subject of organization, let me encourage YOU to get your child’s space at home organized. Go ahead and go through your child’s clothes, and get rid of anything that is never worn. Then get rid of half of what is left. If your child’s drawers are still stuffed, get rid of half again! Throw out all socks without mates, or throw out all your socks altogether and buy new ones that all match. (Do you know how much time that will save you?) Pack away toys. And stuffed animals. De-clutter your child’s room and the place she will do her homework. Give a settled, calm environment for those stressful homework sessions that are bound to come.
The book ADD Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life is a long overdue response to the needs of adults with attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder. It deals directly and exclusively with the greatest challenge that adults with AD/HD face: the problem of disorganization. Buy the book from Amazon.com.
Communicate. Finally remember that now is also the best time to communicate with your child’s teachers. Consider writing a letter outlining your child’s strengths, interests, and needs. Go to open house, and meet the administration and the guidance staff. Make friends with the school secretary. Join the PTA, and volunteer to tutor, to bake cookies, to cut out bulletin board letters. Even parents who work outside of the home can be involved, and that involvement opens the lines of communication like nothing else.