Are you wondering how to make a homeschool portfolio? If so, you’re in the right place.
I’ve wanted to write a homeschool portfolio how to for quite some time.
Because the truth is, I’ve tried several approaches when it comes to homeschool portfolios. I’ve done the traditional three-ring binder, file box, and accordion folder. I’ve attempted to use Evernote to create a digital homeschool portfolio.
And finally, this year, I’ve fallen in love with using Instagram and Seesaw to make a free digital portfolio.
(But that’s an entirely different post. I digress…)
I have also been on the other side of the homeschool portfolio review process. As a licensed educator in the state of NH, I have reviewed many homeschool portfolios.
Today, I’m sharing how to make a homeschool portfolio. When you have finished reading, I’d love to hear how you approach year-end homeschool portfolios.
But first, before reading anything listed below, be sure to check requirements and homeschool law in your state.
How to Make a Homeschool Portfolio
First, as I mentioned above, be sure to check requirements and homeschool law in your state.
(I live in NH and we are required to complete a homeschool portfolio or a standardized test. In years past, I have tried both and I find that the portfolio option works best for our family right now.)
That said, portfolios can be a bit of a pain in the tush if you aren’t organized!
What is the purpose of a homeschool portfolio?
The purpose of a homeschool portfolio is to demonstrate student growth over the course of the year. It is also a wonderful way to showcase the student’s strengths and interests.
When it comes to homeschool portfolios, you do not need to keep everything.
You want to show growth throughout the year over a variety of academic subjects, but you definitely do not need to save every work sample and project.
Homeschool portfolios are a fantastic way to show growth for children who do not fit in that proverbial box. With a portfolio, you can highlight your child’s unique strengths and demonstrate growth in those weak areas, too.
Homeschool portfolios are perfect for:
- Students with learning challenges
- Children with asynchronous skills
- Gifted and twice-exceptional children
Homeschool portfolios do not have to be stressful or intimidating. With a little planning, you can make the process simple.
In fact, a homeschool portfolio is a wonderful keepsake. It’s amazing to look back and see all you have accomplished in one year!
What to include in your homeschool portfolio
First, be sure to check your state regulations and make sure you are following the legal requirements for your state.
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!
How to make a homeschool portfolio
When it comes to creating a homeschool portfolio, the most important thing is to have a plan.
The last thing you want to do is to wait until June rolls around. You will feel completely overwhelmed and the process will be utterly stressful.
(Trust me. I did this one year and it was awful.)
There are two types of homeschool portfolios:
- Traditional portfolios (usually with a three-ring binder, file box, or accordion file)
- Digital portfolios
For both types of portfolios, it is best to have a plan in place.
It is important to think about:
- What your portfolio will look like (binder, accordion file, file box, digital portfolio)
- How often to collect work samples (monthly, quarterly, etc.)
- Where to store student work samples
- If you plan to have a digital portfolio, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the system you are using.
- With digital portfolios, it is sometimes helpful to set a daily reminder on your phone so that you get into a daily rhythm of uploading photos, etc.
How to make a traditional homeschool portfolio
Traditional homeschool portfolios display a student’s work using a 3-ring binder, accordion file, file box, or scrapbook. 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!)
How to maintain a digital homeschool portfolio
This is our first year using a digital portfolio and I could not be happier. There are many options for maintaining an online portfolio.
If you are looking to explore digital homeschool portfolio options, you can read more here:
There are so many advantages to maintaining a digital portfolio:
- Digital portfolios make the process more simple
- Online portfolios do not take up any space
- Digital portfolios are more “green” and environmentally-friendly
- Online portfolios make organization simple
- With digital portfolios, searching for student work is super-easy
- Digital portfolios allow you to capture daily moments easily
- With digital portfolios, you can include video and audio clips – You can record a piano recital, presentation, science experiment, or capture oral reading fluency!
Personally, I am in love with using Instagram in combination with the free Seesaw app. You can read more about that here:
Or, check out this post for more ideas:
The homeschool portfolio review process – Fear not!
As I mentioned above, I have reviewed many homeschool portfolios over the past several years. Many homeschool parents feel intimidated by this process, and I’m here to tell you there is nothing to fear.
The evaluator’s job is to review your homeschool portfolio and ascertain whether the student has made progress commensurate with age and ability.
You can make the evaluator’s job easier by documenting this growth in an organized way.
Don’t be afraid to tell your evaluator where your student is struggling, and where your student is excelling. This helps your evaluator to get to know your student, and it will also help with future evaluations.
Personally, I love to see student growth. It doesn’t matter to me whether a student is above grade level or below grade level, as long as he or she is making progress. Remember: there are students in public school who are struggling, too!
How to make a homeschool portfolio (and not lose your marbles)
Truly, it can be simple to maintain a homeschool portfolio with a little planning and organization.
- Have a plan
- Stick to it
- Stay organized- don’t wait until June
- Remember: Your goal is to demonstrate growth
I hope that I have helped answer your questions about how to make a homeschool portfolio. Please feel free to email me or leave a comment below if you have additional questions.
Breathe, moms and dads. Children are learning all the time and the homeschool portfolio process can be a wonderful way to see all the amazing things your children have accomplished in a year!
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!
- Homeschool Curriculum: How to Ditch the Schedule and Embrace a Lifestyle
- 2018-19 Homeschool Curriculum
- Gameschooling 101: How to Homeschool with Fantastic Games
- 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
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