Organizational Strategies for ADHD to Improve Your Student’s Focus

Learn what organizational strategies for ADHD you can use in your homeschool to help your distractable child better focus and learn while homeschooling. Perfect for kiddos with any unique learning needs!

As a homeschooling mom, you’ve probably read the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff and seen some of the parodies and poems based upon it. My family often jokes that we all have the same problem as the Mouse in the book because we all have ADHD to some degree.

For example, we start on a project or task, but it reminds us of something else that we also need to do, so we start on that. And then get sidetracked again with something else and before you know it, the day is gone. We haven’t finished any single task even though we were busy the whole day.

My family’s biggest challenges are impulsiveness and failure to complete a task. So as a family, we’ve come up with several strategies for ADHD to help us stay on track and complete our tasks.

My background as a Speech-Language Pathologist plus my experience as a homeschooling mom since 2001 has helped me to come up with some ways for myself and my kids to combat the distractions. Even though my oldest has struggled with ADHD, she was admitted to Honors College at the university of her choice and has since graduated.

My younger kids with ADHD are still homeschooling at the high school, elementary, and preschool levels and we are always striving to learn more ways to overcome distractions.

To listen to a podcast that I did with Abby Banks from Homeschool with Moxie about these strategies for ADHD, click here

To get more Back-to-School Homeschooling Hacks, skip down to here.

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. This means that if you click on them, I may make a tiny commission, at no extra cost to you.

Here are some of the organizational strategies for ADHD that my family uses to overcome our challenges with ADHD.

Work Bins or Workboxes Strategy

If you aren’t familiar with work bins, it’s basically just an organizational system of numbered boxes or bins with one task placed in each box. Sue Patrick originally came up with the strategy of organizing school work in workboxes for her son with special needs. A typical day of work bins might look like this:

  1. math flashcards
  2. math worksheet
  3. quick card game with mom
  4. science reading
  5. supplies for a science experiment
  6. free reading book
  7. spelling activity
  8. grammar game

If your family has a morning basket time when the family does their “together” work (or family schooling time), then workboxes will fit into your routine perfectly. Just toss the independent work that each child needs to complete for the day into the bins. Just remember to include some “fun activities” throughout their day.

For example, we like to use small puzzles, fidget gadgets, a coloring page, brain break dice or cards, 1 person logic challenges, or even quick card games.

Work bins work especially well as one of the ADHD strategies for younger children and for those who need lots of hands-on activities. They are also a wonderful way to encourage independence as kids can go through and complete their work without having to continuously stop and ask mom “what’s next?”!

Many families like to use these rolling cart bins for their workboxes.

Visual Task Cards Strategy

daily task cards printable

We use our workboxes along with a chart of daily task cards. Each day, attach the cards to the chart with Velcro dots to show what comes next in your daily activities. For example, the chart might have cards for:

  1. breakfast, morning chores
  2. morning time basket
  3. bins 1 to 3
  4. 15 minutes of playtime
  5. lunch
  6. bins 4-6
  7. dentist appointment
  8. bins 7-8
  9. supper
  10. Awanas
  11. shower
  12. evening chores
  13. bedtime

Using the daily tasks cards chart has also helped my preschoolers with the pre-reading skill of scanning their chart from left to right.

Get your own {FREE} copy of the Daily Task Cards and Chart.

It has six pages of daily tasks cards plus the chart so you can create your own custom visual schedule!

Assignment Notebooks Strategy

I spend about a week each summer typing up each child’s lesson plans for the year; print them out and place them in a 3-ring binder. As they complete an assignment, they can highlight it.

This visual aid works really well for older kiddos to see what they’ve accomplished, what they have left to do for the day, and as an added bonus, is a great record-keeping system for moms, too.

For younger kids, I highlight their tasks after they’ve completed that work bin item. You can read about how I plan our lessons for the whole year here and get {FREE} printable planner forms from the Free Resource Library.

strategies for ADHD curriculum planner

Sitting Strategy

For most school tasks, I’ve let my children sit/sprawl however they’ve needed, but there are times when being able to sit in a chair without falling off of it is helpful. We found that using a flat balance ball type of seat cushion helped with the constant wiggles and falling out of chairs. (Because constantly falling out of chairs is a real thing!)

Listening Strategy

My kids are visual learners and they struggle most with tasks that require good auditory listening skills.

I know that most traditional university classrooms are based upon a lecture/note-taking style, so to help them prepare for that I started a couple of different strategies when they were young.

First, I let them have a special toy to fiddle with while they were listening. My kids especially like the Tangle Jr. toy but other quiet toys, like a squishy stress ball, fidget spinner, or a fidget cube, work equally well.

Second, we listened to audiobooks while we ran errands and drove to extra-curricular activities. Our favorites are Jim Weiss Audio Collection and Hank the Cowdog books.

Third, we listen to a chapter of the Bible each day, and afterward, each child has to tell me one or two things that they heard. When they are 3 or 4, they may only be able to tell me a single word that they heard. As they get older, they tell me phrases and then sentences that they remember.

Curriculum Strategy

We’ve found that combining as much hands-on curriculum as we can find along with a morning family school time works really well at holding our attention.

We’ve used family-style unit studies and lap-books from preschool and elementary levels all the way to high school for art appreciation, themed multi-subject units, and even for Apologia science. Educational videos are also a popular choice if screen time doesn’t adversely affect your child’s behavior.

When my oldest two were in high school, I taught an American History through Film class through our co-op, which was very beneficial for my visual learners.

Reward Strategy

Finding out what motivates each individual child requires lots of trial and error, but I think the blood, sweat, and tears (kidding/not kidding) involved are worth it in the long term.

One of my kids responded well to rewards for completing tasks, but never cared if privileges were taken away for not finishing a task.

Another child was willing to complete any task as long as I added in coloring or painting as the last task of the school day.

We use the visual schedules (above) as a visual reminder of what needed to be done; some days they need a significant amount of verbal redirection, other days, they are able to check off the tasks unsupervised.

Find the Reason Behind the Behavior

The biggest thing I discovered about my kids with ADHD is the reason behind their frequent unwillingness to start a task.

I just couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just do it, instead of staring at it!

I finally figured out that they believed it “would take too long” to complete, so they didn’t even start on it.

Once I understood that, we would play a game called “beat the timer;” I always set the timer for at least two or three times the amount of time the task should take. Mainly because I wanted them to be successful at beating the timer. It gives them a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to win!

One of my son’s favorite rewards for getting a certain number of school tasks completed is to play a game with me. We love Gamewright brand games, such as Feed the Kitty and Wig Out!, because they are easy to play and usually take less than 10 minutes.

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More Ideas for Organizing Your Homeschool

To learn more about work bins as one of the organizational strategies for ADHD search follow my ADHD Strategies board on Pinterest.

Be sure to pin one of these images to your favorite Pinterest board so you can refer back to it.

strategies for ADHD
strategies for organizing your homeschool pin
daily task cards pin strategies for ADHD

I am a licensed Speech and Language Pathologist, but I’m not YOUR CHILD’S Speech and Language Pathologist. If you have a concern about your child and ADHD, please contact your pediatrician. Neither Whole Child Homeschool nor its agents are rendering medical advice.

This is an updated and revised version of an article I originally wrote for Homeschool Helper Online. Reused with permission.

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