Have you looked inside your child’s backpack lately? If your child has ADHD there’s a good chance that it’s pretty messy in there! ADHD can make it hard to stay organized, and messy backpacks often lead to lost homework, missing or crumpled permission slips, and heavy loads that weigh kids down. Try these tips to help your child clean out their backpack and keep it neat all year long.
- Make a list. Together with your child make a list of things that should be in the backpack. Be very specific. For example, if your child likes to keep library books in their backpack, allow them to carry only one book (two at most) at a time.
- Have a homework folder. Select one specific folder that is used to bring homework sheets to and from school. Use the left side of the folder for unfinished work, and the right side for completed worksheets. Check the homework folder every day to make sure the “completed” side is empty when your child comes home. It’s common for kids with ADHD to forget to turn in completed work!
- Have a second folder for notes to parents and other papers. Keep permission slips, notes for parents, and papers that don’t belong in the “homework folder” in a second folder. This keeps the backpack from getting cluttered with loose paper.
- Use a pencil pouch. Keep pencils, pens, and erasers in a pouch. They’ll be easy to find and will be less likely to be lost or broken.
- Set limits on toys in the backpack. Kids often want to keep non-school related items, like figurines, stuffed animals, or trading cards, in their backpacks. Often students get into trouble with teachers when they pull these things out in class. So, it’s best to keep these things at home. If your child insists on bringing these to school, set limits. Allow only one or two items at a time.
- Do a backpack check every day. To keep the backpack in tiptop shape, you’ll need to do a quick backpack check every day. Give your child lots of praise when they’ve stuck to the checklist and organization plan! If they are backsliding, catch it early. Try not to criticize. Just let them know what is out of place and how they can fix it.
- Clean out the backpack every week. Pick a time once a week when your child will go through the backpack checklist and do a cleanout. Check the backpack once the cleanout is complete. Praise their effort, and if they’ve met their checklist goal, consider providing a small reward.
An organized backpack is a great way to start teaching important organization skills that can help kids stay focused and get things done.