Color-Coding Helps with Executive Functioning Issues

By Leslie Josel

Does your child have trouble keeping track of class assignments, sports gear, and everything in between? Try color-coding to help them organize their belongings.

  1. Color-code their to-dos. Use different color sticky notes to help your child keep track of when to do certain tasks like schoolwork or chores. Or use the color of the sticky to indicate how urgent an assignment or chore is.
  2. Use color-coded underlining system for note-taking. When each color has a specific purpose, your child can scan a page and know where to look for what she needs. Use this for shorter assignments, as this technique can be visually overwhelming for larger ones.
  3. Use color-coding to distinguish class notes from home-study notes. Some kids find it helpful to distinguish what they learned in class from what they learned studying at home. So your child can use a blue pen for class notes and black for home. This way if she has a question she will know where she learned it.
  4. Use different color bracelets for reminders. Once your child knows what color goes with what subject, buy her a set of matching bracelets to take to school. They can slip on the bracelet of the subject they have homework in or use it to remind themselves to hand in a particular assignment.
  5. Color code school supplies. Make each class its own color. Use this for every binder, folder, notebook needed for that class. If your child has a homework station follow the color scheme for storage bins for class-specific supplies. So for example, calculators and rulers for math go in the red bin.
  6. Organize your child’s activities by color. Use large totes in different colors, for example, dance in red, tennis in blue, and so on. You can even customize the bag with the name of the activity right on it.

Leslie Josel is the Principal of Order out of Chaos, an organizing consulting firm specializing in student organizing. She is the author of What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management and the creator of the award-winning Academic Planner: A Tool for Time ManagementTo learn more, visit

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