How a Daily Planner Can Help Your ADHD Kid Stay Organized


Many parents of children with ADHD could probably agree that organization is not their child's strongest quality. Thankfully there are tools that can help. Read on to learn how a daily planner can keep your ADHD kid organized in school and beyond.

ADHD and Organization

For many of us, strong organizational skills don't come naturally. However, when you're a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), these skills can be even harder to come by. An informational release published by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association indicates that children with ADHD often have difficulties with organizing and completing tasks in a timely manner. Although there are a number of ways to assist your ADHD child with these pain points, today we'll specifically look at the ways in which a daily planner can be of assistance. But before we get into the benefits, it's a good idea to know what type of planner to pick up for your child since they're not all created equal.

Best Types of Planners

ADDitudeMag contributor Susan Kruger, M.Ed., suggests a simple, thin, spiral-bound planner that uses a weekly layout with a separate space for each day; try to avoid clunky, heavyweight styles. Kruger also offers an interesting perspective on daily planners: she compares them to sports playbooks. Instead of managing sports plays, though, a daily planner can help your ADHD child manage and organize life's everyday tasks, playing offense and defense where needed to keep things functioning smoothly. Using this perspective can be a fun, relatable way to introduce a planner to your kid and begin explaining what it can do!


Planner Perks for ADHD Kids

Keeps Track of Homework and Activities

The first way a daily planner can help your child stay organized is by keeping track of homework assignments, due dates, and deadlines, along with other important school-related tasks or extracurricular activities. Depending on your child's grade level, he or she may be responsible for several of these each week. And for kids with ADHD, you know that this can get extremely overwhelming! Also, by writing down 'fun' activities in addition to homework assignments and such, your ADHD child may be more excited and motivated to use his or her planner each day.

At the beginning of each week, it can be helpful to write out every subject for every day associated with an important date or homework assignment in a different-colored marker, like green for math, red for ELA, blue for science, etc. Use a different color for 'fun stuff' or 'other activities'. The colorful categories can help your ADHD child differentiate and keep track of things more easily when it comes to jotting them down. Additionally, have your child use folders and notebooks that coordinate with the colors in the planner for each subject to help everything stay color-coded and even more organized!


Helps to Manage Time

According to an article, kids with ADHD commonly have trouble managing their time due to executive functioning issues in the brain. Executive functions are those skills that help us to begin, memorize, plan, pay attention to, and prioritize the daily tasks that make up our lives.

Fortunately, a daily planner can help your ADHD child with this time-management aspect of organization. Although there may not be an instant benefit, and planners can take some time to get used to, your child should begin to see results if he or she sticks to writing things down - no matter what.

With homework assignments and other important things in plain view, your child won't have to spend a bunch of unnecessary time trying to remember what was assigned each day, and you won't have to spend time calling teachers to get this information. By having a visual reminder of tasks that can be crossed off after completion, it may also help your ADHD kid stay on task and get things done in a more productive manner.


Helps Your Child Plan & Reach Goals

A daily planner can also make it easier for your ADHD child to plan and reach goals, which, as we know, is an important part of overall organization. Although this kind of relates back to the time-management and executive functioning aspects, here we'll expand a bit more.

Maybe your child has a hard time getting homework done because he or she isn't able to estimate the amount of time an assignment should take. For example, she may think worksheet A only takes 10 minutes, when it really takes 25. This can cause her to rush through things or run out of time. On the other hand, maybe she thinks an assignment will take an hour, when in reality, it only takes 20 or 30 minutes. This may cause her to drag her feet when starting due to feeling very overwhelmed.

After your child gets accustomed to using a planner on a daily basis, you can begin to encourage him or her to jot down an estimated time of completion next to each assignment or activity listed in the planner. If possible, have your child ask the teacher what an acceptable time frame is for each assignment. With time, your child may become better at estimating homework time and getting things done accordingly. This can help your child reach goals in this area - proper estimating can make it easier to plan and carry out tasks - as well as other areas of life.


Last-Minute Takeaways

Now that we've learned some of the main ways that a daily planner can help your ADHD child stay organized, let's close with a few tips:

  • Make it a point to remind your child each and every day to use his/her planner.
  • Check the planner every day after school to make sure it's being used. If there are areas that need improvement, practice with your child.
  • Try to keep your child's teachers on board with your efforts. This way, they can play the role of planner advocates and offer reminders in school.
  • Use a paperclip to keep the previous weeks' pages of the planner together so it always opens to the current week. The need to flip through a lot of pages can often lead to frustration.
  • Always use positive reinforcement as it relates to your child's overall organization. If you see progress, praise it!
By Erin Riskey
January 2017
k-12 learning with adhd

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