The end of our school year is quickly approaching. And for us that means that I am putting the finishing touches on our homeschool portfolios. I love being able to flip through our notebooks at the end of the year and see all the progress my boys have made and remember the fun projects we did together.
A quick note: Be sure to check the homeschool laws for your state. Where I live, we have the option of either keeping a portfolio or testing at the end of each year. You want to make sure that you are in compliance with whatever laws are in place.
In my early homeschool years, it was a mad dash at the end of the year to get our portfolios together in time for evaluations. I finally learned my lesson and work on each notebook all year long. This way when evaluation season rolls around, we are ready to go. And I like to keep things really simple: 3 ring binders, dividers, and sheet protectors.
Here are some tips to help you get started with homeschool portfolios
1. Have a Homeschool Portfolio Plan
I am a big planner, typically planning our entire year in advance. I use these lesson plans to help get an idea of what I want to keep for our portfolios. I also use our plans to create sections for the portfolios: math, reading, copywork, history, etc.
2. Don’t Keep Everything for the Potfolio
You don’t have to keep every single piece of paper that your children work on during the school year. The point of a portfolio is to show progress. I like to pick 3-4 items for each 12 week term to include in our portfolios. I often ask my boys what they want to include.
Things to keep include any paperwork that you have to turn in to the school board, lists of books your child has read, and a list of what curriculum you’ve used.
3. Take Pictures
This is something that I just stared doing last year. Anytime that you take a field trip, take your camera along so you can include a picture from the location in your portfolio. Also pictures come in handy for those big projects that won’t fit in your notebook. Video is another great way to preserve projects and abstract assignments.
4. Scan and Save Digital Versions
I like to scan the contents of our portfolio and save the image files on my computer. Depending on the rules in your state, you may be able to email the document for evaluation. I like to go in person for ours, but I am required to keep the portfolios for three years. I like the idea of saving things digitally instead of having lots of paper to store.
5. Let Your Kids Make it Personal
Each year I print a cover for my boys’ notebooks. They are allowed to decorate this page anyway they want. I also give them an About Me page to put in the front. This helps the teacher who does our evaluations get to know my boys better.