“Wait…I need to keep a homeschool portfolio?” The answer is YES, but it need not be scary. Here is everything you need to know about the homeschool portfolio.
Why Do I Need a Homeschool Portfolio?
Every homeschool is different. That’s a good thing! You can tailor your content and approach to your child’s goals and learning style. Because there is no carbon copy homeschool program, you need to keep a record of your particular school content and how your child is progressing in her skills.
This record may be required by your state or umbrella school. They may review it (or ask a certified teacher to do so) to make sure your child is progressing each year. If you ever need to transition to a traditional school, a homeschool portfolio is an invaluable tool to help the school place your child in the right classes. And finally, a homeschool portfolio is a keepsake. Who doesn’t love a memento from childhood?
Different Kinds of Homeschool Portfolios
There are two basic types of homeschool portfolios, so you should decide which one you’d rather keep.
If you opt for a print portfolio, you will be saving actual papers, art projects, book lists, etc. You will need a binder or accordion file.
The advantage of this method is that it’s simple and quick. You simply take a sampling of your child’s work from the beginning, middle, and end of the year and file it in the portfolio. Done.
The downside? It takes up space. If you have multiple children and you save portfolios for multiple years (and maybe forever), you will quickly fill a bookshelf.
With a digital portfolio, you save everything electronically. The advantages here are that you can save a bunch of different things: scans of work, pictures of projects, snapshots of art, typed documents, and even voice recordings. It takes up zero space in your house.
The downside? You have to do the scanning and the sorting. When you have a digital portfolio, you tend to save everything. That can be overwhelming to whoever has to review the portfolio.
What to Include in a Portfolio
It’s important to remember that a portfolio is a sampling of your child’s work. It is not all her work. Do not include her entire spelling workbook or every math worksheet. Choose selected pieces from each subject from the beginning, middle, and end of the year. You want to show how your child has progressed in her learning, as well as demonstrate what she has covered.
Here are some items to include in your child’s homeschool portfolio:
This is a must for any homeschool portfolio. What books has your child read (or read with you) for school this year? Record the title, author, and date completed.
Samples of Skill Work
For the skill subjects like handwriting, spelling, and math, go ahead and tear some worksheets out of the workbooks. It’s okay. Select samples from the beginning, middle, and end of the year.
For the content subjects like social studies and science, you can include worksheets, essays, or projects. You can take pictures of tri-fold boards. You can include a copy of the table of contents of the books you used for these subjects.
If you read books to go along with your history or science learning, make sure you include them in your booklist.
Photos of Art, Experiments, and Activities
Did your child do something interesting or amazing this year? This could be a project for history, science, or literature. It could also be an art project. It could be a science fair project. Snap a picture! Include a description on the back of the photo or in the caption of the image file.
If you took an educational field trip or performed some interesting science experiments, take a photo of your child in action and include these in your portfolio.
Audio or Video Recordings
If you are compiling a digital portfolio, you have the option of including audio or video files. Did your student give any oral presentations? Capture them! Can he summarize what he has read in history that day? Make a voice memo. Include these types of files in your portfolio.
Writing takes a lot of time and effort, and it is most definitely a skill. Include both formal and informal writing assignments in your portfolio. Again, you don’t need to save every single one. But choose a representation of your child’s work from the beginning, middle, and end of the year.
Building a Homeschool Portfolio
By knowing what to save and how you plan to store it, creating a homeschool portfolio will be a snap. Don’t worry so much about the “grade” of your child’s contributions. You need to show progress in a portfolio, not mastery or perfection. You are doing your job. Your child is learning (at the pace that is right for him). Your homeschool portfolio will show that.