Organizng School Papers the ADD Way

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We are in the midst of a nasty heat wave where I live, and yet signs of fall are all around. The stores have their autumn merchandise out already – I even saw turkey decorations in one store. The school bus has come down our street a few times in preparation for the new school year, and of course, all of the stores are having back to school sales.
As you are shopping for school supplies, you might want to keep one word in mind: organization. One of the biggest problems students with Attention Deficit Disorder seem to have is with keeping track of all of those loose papers that have to go to school and then back home again.
There are a number of suggestions that people make when it comes to the easiest way to keep things organized. One of them is color coding: for instance, math = blue, so you buy a folder and a notebook in blue for math class. It’s a good idea in theory, and may even work for some kids, but I think for most kids with ADD, it just ends up being too many things to keep track of. Plus, I can just picture my kid being late for class because he was standing in front of his locker trying to remember if math was blue or red.
Binders are another idea, because you can put papers in and take them out as you need to, and they keep everything together. Add some dividers and a pencil holder, and you’re in business. The trouble with binders, though, is that they take a little work to pop them open, put the paper in, and then snap them shut. Not much work, I know, but enough so that it’s not likely to happen as often as it should, especially with an impatient ADDer. And turning to the right section, popping open and inserting? Even less likely. What you’ll get instead is papers folded or crumpled and just stuffed inside, with a hope and a prayer that they stay there until they’re needed again. I think you’ve already been there and done that.
I have 2 suggestions that might work a little better, but I’m not making any guarantees. We’ve got ADD, you know.
First, buy just one folder. A good sturdy one with 2 pockets that’s easy to spot. It goes everywhere your kid does: every class, to home and back to school. Always. One pocket is for papers that need to go home and the other is for papers that need to go to school.
If your child is allowed to carry a backpack in school – to classes – you can modify this idea and use 2 accordion files or large envelopes instead, preferably in different colors. These can remain in the backpack, standing open, so that papers are easy to insert or remove without removing the envelope.
My second idea is a variation of the envelope suggestion. If you’re purchasing a new backpack this year, and your child can take it to class, see if you can find one with a built in pocket or area that would serve the same purpose. Add a brightly colored folder or something similar to divide the pocket in two so that you have home and school areas. (The folder is used as a divider only – not as storage. You could also use a piece of poster board or cardboard.)

Whatever method you choose, keep in mind:
• It should suit your ADD child and how they do things.
• It should be cleared out and sorted at least once a week to keep things under control. Designate a special box or folder at home to keep papers removed from the folder, in case they are needed again. (A box is more likely to be used because it’s less work to put something in it.)

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Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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