How to Create a Homeschool Portfolio

May 27th, 2011 | By | Category: General Homeschool Posts, Lead Article


Homeschool Portfolio

It’s that time of year again–time to create and turn in your Homeschool Portfolio.  For many parents this is a time of stress and frantic searching for all of those homeschool documents, pictures and moments that define the school year.  For others it is a time of reflection and enjoyment as they page through their already full portfolio and remember the good and the bad.

If you are one of the many homeschool parents who is searching for answers on just what to include, how much to include and how to get it all done, let me assure you, the task is not as daunting as it appears.  In fact, when you follow a step by step approach to pulling it all together, I think you will find that it is a pretty rewarding homeschool project that both you and your kids can enjoy.

A homeschool portfolio is a keepsake for you and your family that documents the educational progress of each of your students.  It contains a snapshot of your school year that includes academic progress, special projects, field trips and extra curricular activities.  It is an opportunity to showcase your child’s best work and to demonstrate how you were able to turn struggles into success.

For many, a homeschool portfolio is required by law and therefore serves as much more than a keepsake.  Be sure to check the laws in your state to ensure that you meet the requirements for homeschooling.  For some, this will mean a homeschool portfolio; for others it will mean standardized testing; and for still others it may mean a visit from a school official.

So assuming that you have discovered the need for a homeschool portfolio or simply want to create a keepsake, where do you start?

Begin by deciding how you want to present your school year.  Most parents use a three ring binder divided into sections such as subjects, writing samples, special events, field trips and extra curricular activities.  This is the easiest way to keep your records organized and to ensure that you don’t go overboard with how much you include.

Essential items to place into your homeschool portfolio include:

  • The homeschool objectives you established at the beginning of the school year or a list of objectives you accomplished this year
  • Any legal documents required by law in your state.
  • Your homeschool log (anything from a simple calendar with school days marked inside to a lesson planner documenting what you did each day).  Check the laws in your state to learn what is required for a homeschool log.
  • A list of books, magazines, audio books, and educational videos
  • Sample work from each subject.  Many parents choose to include only the tests completed through the school year; others include projects, pictures of projects and sample pages of daily work as well.
  • Writing samples that demonstrate your child’s accomplishments in writing.
  • Pictures of art work from throughout the school year
  • A letter from a music teacher, a coach, or other instructor who worked with your child
  • If you have kept records of grades for your child or are enrolled in a home school program with Bridgeway Academy where records are kept for you, include those records or report cards in your portfolio.
  • A list of field trips or brochures, ticket stubs, etc. that tell the story of where you have been this year.
  • A list of community service opportunities in which your child participated
  • A list of achievements, awards or other recognition
  • If your child participated in standardized testing, you may also want to include those results in your portfolio.

So how do you put your homeschool portfolio together?

I always recommend that parents begin the school year with either an accordion file or a binder with tab dividers and even plastic sleeve protectors.  Then as a student completes a project, test or other activity in a particular subject, simply insert it into the file or binder.

In addition, Bridgeway Academy students should be sure to place all notes and feedback sent from your advisor as well as honor roll ribbons or other recognition received throughout the school year into your binder (that is of course after you have showcased it on the fridge for a time).

This makes it so easy when you reach the end of the year and have to finalize your portfolio.  Rather than searching for what to include, you end up weeding out what you don’t need.

Tips to remember:

  1. You don’t need to include everything you accomplished throughout the year.  A good rule of thumb is to select a variety of assignments in each subject from the beginning, middle and end of the school year.
  2. Be sure to end up with a portfolio that shows your progress. This means you will not only include your student’s best work but also those assignments that led to more focused instruction and progress.
  3. Allow yourself some freedom with your portfolio.  Be creative and put it together in a way that works for you.  I have reviewed all kinds of portfolios from binders to accordion files, to digital portfolios to scrapbooks and photo montages.
  4. Don’t stress about your evaluation. Most evaluators are committed to helping homeschoolers, to providing tips to help address weaknesses and encouragement for student success.  When you put your portfolio together in an organized fashion and include items that demonstrate progress, you make it easy on your evaluator and ensure a smooth and easy evaluation.

If you are scrambling to pull it all together this year, head out and buy your accordion file or binder or whatever you plan to use to create your portfolio.   Then set aside a full school day to work together with your children to review the year and determine what you want to include.  It will certainly be a great learning experience as they review what they have learned and will allow you to take it slow and enjoy the project.

And when you go to purchase your portfolio, you may want to pick up an extra one for next year!  :-)

Additional homeschooling posts:

Perseverance: Not Just for Ants, Rams, and Snails
By Elizabeth L.

Homeschool Students Impact Russia
What better way to celebrate Christ's birth than to spend your Christmas vacation serving him? That's exactly what Bridgeway Academy homeschooling families did this past Christmas season by traveling to Russia to share Christ with the people there.

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