The Mother of Invention and All That ....
Updated: Mar 6
I'm not a teacher or mental health professional, and I have a bad habit of losing my phone more than should be humanly possible. But I'm a mom, and there's not much than can stop a desperate parent. And our famil
y was desperate to break the cycle of missing homework, "surprise" tests and projects, and the overall breakdown in school + home communication.
A little background on us. We're a family of 4, of which 3 of us have diagnosed ADHD. As you can imagine, our life is never boring. In fact, we have a sign in the family room that reads, "We're just one tent away from a full blown circus." Throw in the 2 dogs and 5 cats and the occasional foster pet, and we probably meet the criteria for our own big top.
My kids struggle with executive functioning, which is common for neurodivergent brains but can look different for everyone. For my kids, it means a lot of looking around the house for shoes and a lot of missing homework assignments, most of which were completed but never turned in and have disappeared—never to be seen again.
It also works the other way, where school assignments don't make their way home, and we find out about major projects the day before the due date, or the day after. It's stressful for us parents, and can really take a toll on the confidence of a young person who's brain doesn't operate like some of his peers, but is expected to perform like it does. And we've been fortunate to have teachers who embrace and implement the accommodations and tools necessary to support these lagging executive function skills. But even with all of that support, my youngest was still struggling.
So I came up with a system for him that is similar to what I use to keep my own ADHD brain on track and I made him what turned out to be the first ever Banana Planner. Full Disclosure: I didn't make it pretty or even laminate it, because I thought it could be just another failed attempt at getting him organized. He had been given school-issued planners previously, but they never worked for him. They were too small, included lots of distractions, and had no prompts, just empty boxes. What he needed was room to write, reminders, and a simple layout that guided him through the day's assignments and homework. And to my surprise, it wasn't a failure. In fact, he took to it immediately and with the support of his teachers, his planner has been a staple in his school supplies ever since. (Full) Full Disclosure: he still misses assignments at times, and forgets papers at school. I also find rotting food in his backpack occasionally. But it's a heck of a lot better than before so we'll take it!)
And while my son is definitely one of a kind, I knew that other families were having the same struggles, day in and day out. This became the catalyst and guiding principle for Banana Planners, to help take the stress out of schoolwork and rebuild the confidence of kids whose brains work differently. This blog is meant to be a resource (and sometimes possibly entertainment) for caregivers of neurodivergent children, but whoever you are and however you found yourself here, welcome. After all ....we're all mad here.