Today, I’d like to share how you can create an amazing free homeschool portfolio.
I am going to discuss how to create a low-cost traditional portfolio, but then I will explain how to maintain a digital portfolio for free.
This year, I am maintaining a digital homeschool portfolio… and I love it!
(I never thought I’d say that. I’m an old-fashioned girl. I love the feel of paper in my hands!)
I’ve learned that there are many advantages to maintaining a digital portfolio, and at the top of the list is this: digital portfolios are completely free!
How to Create an Amazing Free Homeschool Portfolio
What to include in your homeschool portfolio
Here are some ideas for what to include in your homeschool portfolio:
- Legal and other important documents (letter of intent, test results, immunization records, etc.)
- Curriculum used
- Learning objectives
- Work samples for all academic subjects
- Book logs
- Read aloud book log
- Individual student book logs
- Gameschooling log (yes, games count!)
- Extracurricular activities
- Monthly schedule/activity log
- Field trips
- Films and documentaries watched
- Live music and theater performances
- Awards and certificates
- Community service hours
- Tickets, brochures, and other memorabilia from field trips, vacations, and other adventures
- Photos of large projects
- Video of students reading aloud (this is easier with a digital portfolio)
- Videos of student presentations (this is easier with a digital portfolio)
- Fitness logs
- Video clips of academic skills (such as oral reading), sports performance, music performances, etc. (Again, easier with digital portfolios)
- Photos, photos, and more photos– because so much of homeschooling cannot be captured on paper!
If you would like more information about how to create a homeschool portfolio, here is an article for you:
Now, I’d like to share four ways to create a homeschool portfolio, and three of these options does not cost a dime!
1. Traditional homeschool portfolio
First, let’s talk about traditional portfolios. Traditional portfolios cost a bit more than the digital portfolios I am about to explain, but the cost is minimal. In fact, you may have these materials in your homeschool room already!
Traditional homeschool portfolios display a student’s work using a 3-ring binder, accordion file, file box, or scrapbook system.
These portfolios can be held in your hands. They are wonderful keepsakes, too!
Here are some helpful tools for creating an awesome homeschool portfolio:
- A large 3-ring binder (one for each child)
- An accordion file (one for each child)
- Portable file box (one for each child)
- Subject dividers for binders
- File folders
- Three-hole punch
Homeschool portfolios are personal and unique to each family. You must do what works best for you.
Some families love to keep 3-ring binders. This is a great way to organize a student’s work by subject.
Other families prefer accordion files and file boxes. The advantage of these systems is that you do not need to bother with 3-hole-punching all of the papers.
Find a system that works for your family, and do not leave assembly until June. (You will thank yourself later!)
2. Create a homeschool blog to use as a digital homeschool portfolio
Many homeschoolers use blogs as a means to document their homeschool journey. This is a fantastic way to keep family updated, and an easy way to keep records if you enjoy writing, photos, and feel comfortable with technology.
I did not start this blog to use a homeschool portfolio, but it has certainly come in handy! I know that the monthly booklists I post will be super-helpful in June!
You can read those here:
- The Coffee and Books Quick Start Guide
- Coffee and Books: Select Titles from November 2017, Organized by Subject
- Coffee and Books: Select Titles from Fall 2017, Organized by Subject
There are several sites that offer free blogging options:
Another idea is to have your children maintain their own sites. When we first started homeschooling, my oldest had a little blog on KidBlog.
3. Make a free digital homeschool portfolio using Evernote
Evernote is a wonderful option for homeschoolers who wish to maintain a digital portfolio. Many homeschoolers adore Evernote.
Evernote is great for:
- List making
- Lesson planning
- Brain dumps
- Saving ideas from the web
- Saving interesting articles from the web
- Scanning and saving documents
- Uploading photos
I have used Evernote for years. I personally use it for brain dumps, blog post ideas, a place to store homeschool ideas, a place to store books I’d like to read, Christmas gift ideas and lists, and a place to keep articles that I love.
So many of my homeschool friends love Evernote for homeschool record keeping and digital portfolios. And so last year, I tried to convert to a digital portfolio using Evernote.
I’ll be honest- I wanted to love Evernote for homeschooling, but I abandoned it after a few frustrating weeks.
For me, Evernote didn’t mesh with the way my brain works. It was fine for lists, brain dumps, and ideas, but I found it harder to navigate when it came to creating a digital portfolio.
In talking with other homeschoolers, it seems you either love Evernote for digital portfolios or you kind of hate it.
If you are interested in creating a digital homeschool portfolio using Evernote, or exploring how Evernote can make your life easier, I want to share a resource.
Homeschool mom, Misty Winckler, wrote a book about paperless home organization using Evernote and other resources. It is called Paperless Home Organization: How to Create A Digital Home Management Binder and if you are interested in using Evernote in your home and homeschool, you might want to check it out.
Mystie also has a tutorial available:
If you want to create a digital homeschool portfolio but struggle with using Evernote, I have another idea for you: SeeSaw. It is my new favorite thing this year!
4. Create a free homeschool digital portfolio with Seesaw
For many years, I kept traditional portfolios for my children, but I longed to make the process easier and simpler. I knew that a digital portfolio could be the answer, but I struggled with how to accomplish that.
Last year, I tried using Evernote but – while many love it – it just didn’t work for me.
During my year-end portfolio evaluation, I told my evaluator my struggle. She is a fantastic resource, especially when it comes to all things tech, and she suggested trying the free Seesaw app.
I value her opinion and so I tried it. And it was love at first sight (site?).
To me, Seesaw was far more intuitive than other options I had tried. In fact, it was designed for children to use and so it’s super user-friendly.
If you can navigate Facebook, you can use Seesaw.
Here are just a few reasons why I love Seesaw:
- It is free.
- It is designed for students to use, too.
- Seesaw is a wonderful way to keep your extended family involved in the homeschool process.
- Seesaw allows students to showcase their work, too.
- The app is simple to use. You can upload a day’s work in seconds.
- Customer support is awesome.
- Seesaw shares ideas for using the app all the time. I have more ideas than I have time!
- Students can “show what they know” in the way that best works for them, whether that is audio, video, drawing, a link to the web, or PDF.
- Seesaw is compatible with many popular apps including Google apps.
- It can be used with any device.
- Seesaw makes organization a breeze!
- By involving students, Seesaw leads to deeper student reflection.
- Students can create and maintain their own blogs through Seesaw.
If you are interested in using Seesaw, check out the post I wrote about how I use Instagram and Seesaw to create a super-simple, super fun digital homeschool portfolio. You can read that post here:
Add more joy to your homeschool day…
Do you want to see what our homeschool looks like?
Check out these helpful resources:
- First, be sure to follow me on Instagram. I share daily stories chronicling our day!
- Gifted Homeschool Curriculum: 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade
- Homeschool Curriculum: How to Ditch the Schedule and Embrace a Lifestyle
- Homeschool Curriculum 2017-2018
- Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 5-, 7-, and 8-year-old)
- Homeschool Curriculum 2016-2017
- Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 4-, 6-, and 7-year-old)
- Homeschooling Curriculum 2015-2016
- Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 3-, 5-, and 6-year-old)
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: What does your state require? Do you maintain a homeschool portfolio? Share here!
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Scary Mommy, GeekMom, and many others. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram