ADHD students benefit more from binder organization system than planning, time-management interventions

slide-3A checklist that helped middle school students keep their papers organized in a school binder was more effective at helping students with ADHD complete their school work than other organizational-skills interventions, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

Over 16 sessions, 23 middle school students participated in a program called Homework, Organization and Planning Skills (HOPS) conducted by school counselors or mental health workers. The sessions focused on the following skills:

  • School materials organization–How to organize binders, backpacks, lockers and how to transport work between home and school. Providers inspected binder organization based on the Organizational Skills Checklist at the beginning of each session. Students received one point for each criterion they met on the checklist (e.g. no loose papers in bookbag).
  • Homework recording and management–How to accurately and consistently record homework in a planner.
  • Planning/timing management–How to break up assignments, project and studying into manageable parts and how to plan for the completion of work. Students also learned how to balance extracurricular and after-school activities with the demands of school.

As well as the binder organization system, the therapeutic alliance with the HOPS provider was  found to be one of the more effective components of the program based on parent ratings of their child’s improvement, researchers report.

The purpose of the binder organization system taught in HOPS is to help students store and file homework and classwork and transfer materials to and from school.  A binder organization system is particularly important in middle school where students are required to manage materials for at least 4 separate core class subjects, the researchers report.

“Predictors of Response and Mechanisms of Change in an Organizational Skills Intervention for Students with ADHD,” by Joshua Langberg et al., School Journal of Child and Family Studies, 2013, Volume 22, pp. 1000-1012.

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