blog photoThe other morning I peeked into my daughter’s bathroom to flip off the light she inadvertently left on. I had to laugh as I gazed at the mirror littered with sticky notes. One was a “To Do” list, capturing three or four critical things she needed to accomplish for the day. I had to wonder if she perhaps forgot to take it with her when she left. A second note read, *BE impeccable with my word. *Don't Make Assumptions. *Don't take anything personally. *Always do your best. “Wow,” I thought, “A keeper.” The one directly under it read, DON’T FORGET GAS $$-MOM. Well, that I know she remembered to do....

As I walked downstairs, I was thinking about her notes, and how far she had come in using this strategy to help her focus and remember important things. I also know that technology, tools such as her smartphone and laptop with assorted applications, are invaluable resources for her as she navigates adulthood. I will talk more about technology in upcoming posts, but let’s focus on list making for a moment.

The beginning of the school year is a perfect time to hand off the “remembering” baton to your child. If you find yourself endlessly running P.E. clothes, lunches, or forgotten books up to school, or hear yourself repeating “did you remember...” and “don’t forget your...” it is time to get your child engaged in making those lists and checking them twice.

List making, checking, and executing are executive function skills that encourage planning, prioritizing, and remembering, not to mention self-reflection. All of these are considered essential skills for school success.

To get your child started, you can ask for help, making a list of the top five food items she wants at the grocery, or ask him to scribe a list for you. Are permission trip slips often left at home? Have him make a note, and put it on the door or backpack. If your child needs help thinking of things to put on her list, have a brainstorming session together! If he is too young to write words, have him draw or look for clip art that is appropriate. Model this strategy, and think out loud as you create your lists on paper or using an application on your phone. Doing this will show its importance, draw attention to your processes, and allow for modeled follow through as well.

If you want to get inspired, read Life Lessons From Adorable Children’s To Do Lists . When your child “remembers,” or you catch them writing a list on their own, and following through with getting things accomplished, make sure you give authentic praise that reinforces the desired behavior.

Happy list making!

Blogger Barbara Hunter, MEd, shares her expertise in the use of technology to support learning.


  • Alt
    Fri, 08/30/2013 - 2:20pm reply

    I think this is a GREAT idea and hope it's not too late to introduce the sticky note list trick to my ADHD highschool freshman! He is taking photography as an elective and we gathered all necessary supplies before school started. One of the supplies was an empty oatmeal or pringles can. I bought him Pringles at the grocery and naturally he had to "empty" the chips before taking the can to school. I noticed that the can was sitting on his dresser when I kissed him goodnight last eve. I logged into his grades today and he received a -0- for turning his can in on time
    :o( I thought I had him all prepared! I see a fridge littered with sticky notes in my future!!! Thanks for this helpful tip!!

  • Alt
    Thu, 09/05/2013 - 2:08pm reply

    Glad you enjoyed the post Kim! I am one who believes it is NEVER too late to teach and/or start a new strategy. I think the key is getting your son to believe it may work for him, as much as YOU know it would!

    Getting buy-in is first and foremost. Children with ADHD often feel very “done to” and powerless. Creating a team effort and starting out slowly is critical. You may want to model writing the notes, then remind him to write the note, then even more slowly, hand the baton to him. And remember.... praising the EFFORT he is putting in will go a long way. If you check those grades and see where he has credit for turning something in---write him a note of congrats, and put it on his bathroom mirror.

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