Special education students struggle with organization. Many students with disabilities have difficulty finding assignments, locating the materials they need, and completing tasks. They may have difficulty with focus and need lots of visual cues to help them keep their materials in place. Here are some tips:
- Have a different color folder for each subject.
- Color code. Color code by subject-if you have a red folder for math, use a red cover for the math textbook, a red box for the students compass and calculator, even red pens, if it helps!
- Regularly clean out desks and backpacks.
- Do not permit games or toys in a child's desk. If you use preferred items as reinforcers, put a child's toys in a container marked with their name and stored elsewhere.
- Have clearly marked baskets or bins for returning homework.
- Try this homework system: write each child's name on a clothespin, and clip them on the rim of an open, flat box (the lid for a case of copy paper works great.) Put it near the cloak room or coat hooks. Have each child take their clothespin off the rim of the box when they arrive at school, and clip their homework together, leaving both in the box. You can visually check to see who has not turned in their homework.
- Post homework online every night.
- Use graphic organizers to break projects into manageable chunks.
- Have clear expectations and routines for submitting completed work.
- Laminate a checklist and attach it to the zipper of the student's backpack, for what needs to be put into the bag-one side for going to school, one for going home.
- Use a communication notebook that travels home with notes to parents and for notes from parents.
- Color code backpacks for middle school children, especially children with ASD. Have an AM bag for morning classes, a PM bag for afternoon classes. Or, if they are on a 4-day or 6-day cycle, you may need 4 bags (for days a, b, c and d) or 6 bags!.
- Stay in touch with Mom and Dad: emails or a communication notebook will guarantee that there are more adult eyes on the student.
Keep thinking about strategies that will help your student find assignments, materials and textbooks, and turn those strategies into success for your students with disabilities!