The school year is underway, and you’re trying to stay calm and figure out how to put together your child’s homeschooling portfolio. Maybe homeschooling wasn’t even your first choice, and you’re supplementing for the first time. Don’t worry! We’re here to help! There are so many parents like you who are doing this for the first time. The best part is, you can tailor how you put the portfolio together for you and your child.
So let’s start with the most basic of questions. What is a student portfolio? Quite simply, it is a collection of what your child has done and learned over the course of a year. Everything from math tests to artwork to field trip experiences can go in a portfolio. Want to include the books you read together? The curriculum, books, and more you used to study? This is where it goes. It is simply a way of tracking what you have “done” this year. Why? Well, first for perpetuity and yourself. It’s great to reflect on what you and your child have accomplished, both in the short and long term. Showing your child how far they have come in weeks, months, or a year can be a huge boost to self-confidence. Long term, it allows you to track overall progress. Second, many states require it in their homeschool laws.
Okay, that being said, what do you do? What goes in a portfolio, really? Putting together a portfolio is a constantly evolving process. It’s evolving and developing because your child is constantly developing, and that is personal growth. That’s because of you! Let that sink in a moment and give yourself some credit. We’ve collected some ideas to help you get started. Like many parts of homeschooling, there is no “right” way to do it. There is only one way that works best for you and your student.
Identify your audience
The first consideration you should have in mind before you begin the portfolio process is your audience. Why are you creating a portfolio? Is it because your state requires homeschool families to create a portfolio proving what was taught and learned during the school year? If so, your state probably also has guidelines for what should be included in the portfolio and perhaps how it should be laid out. Be sure to provide and track all that is required of you. Unsure what you need? Anything Academic summarizes your state laws and gives you all you need. If you’re creating the portfolio for yourself and your child or showing it to grandparents or others who are curious about your homeschool, you have much more freedom in what it will look like and what you will include.
Create a Cover Guide for Your Portfolio
To help yourself stay organized, try creating a simple cover page to guide you. Explain the curriculum used, and add easy to follow bullet points. The bullet points can be used to keep yourself on track throughout the school year. By simplifying your goals with bullet points, it’s an easy way to go down the list and check off the goals you’ve set. Learning isn’t a checklist, but a checklist can be a useful tool to stay organized inside your portfolio.
Determine Curriculum in Portfolio
You’ll want to document in the portfolio which curriculums you use for the school year. If you use a combination of curriculums, be sure to note that as well. The same goes for learning styles. If you used the Charlotte Mason method and a bit of the traditional method, you want to note that in your portfolio and explain what it added to the child’s education. This is your chance to really go in-depth and explain what you have done in your homeschool. Take the reader along with you in the journey and show them how you got from one place to another. Where you started might be the polar opposite of where you are now. The evolution can be amazing to watch unfold as you flip through the pages of the completed portfolio. As your student grows, this will be a remarkable treasure chest of just how far they’ve come.
Let’s look at the options for your portfolio. Tell yourself to have fun with this! Pick the method that makes you feel the most comfortable. Pick more than one option if that works for you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be! This part is the most fun. Pick the style that fits you the best right now. As the years progress, your needs might change. You can always find the latest options here at Anything Academic. From a binder of work to one of these digital portfolios, the options are endless!
Digital Options for Your Portfolio:
One popular option is to create an online portfolio. There are several good ones out there (I listed a few below). Most are free or inexpensive, ranging from $5-$10 a month.
Another creative option to document your homeschool adventures is to start a blog, a Facebook group page, or an Instagram page if you feel like you can’t fit everything on a written page. You want to share your child’s work with family and friends. This is especially useful when documenting field trips or more “out of the workbook” activities. Chemistry in the kitchen lends itself to videos, photos, and commentary. The wonderful part of Facebook “school portfolios” is they can be shared with family. Try adding descriptions of what was learned that day and chart your child’s journey.
If you want an option that you can hold in your hands, your options are limited only to your creativity depth. A simple method is to file items into a folder, binder, or filing cabinet. You can divide separated into tabs listing each subject, a folder, or you can even use a filing cabinet drawer. A more creative option is to put together a scrapbook for your homeschool year together.
What should you put in the portfolio? Again, if your state has guidelines for the portfolio, you’ll want to make sure you follow those requirements. If not, you can include anything you feel has meaning and show that your child is learning, growing, and exploring the world! You can be less or more formal, depending on what suits your needs and who your audience is. Don’t be afraid to think outside the formal schooling box. Here some ideas for you and your child:
- Art projects
- Pictures of science projects, lab notes
- Math quizzes
- A reading log showing what books have been read
- Pictures of you and your family engaged in experiential learning such as camping or nature hikes
- Pictures of your child on a field trip
- Online educational games played (log how much time spent playing)
As a note, many digital homeschool planners incorporate portfolios into them in a large way. They will help you track much of what is needed in terms of tests, grades, materials covered, and books read. Find more by searching for Online Lesson Planners at Anything Academic.
Don’t stress, make it fun!
In the end, the portfolio is an opportunity to celebrate your child and their year of learning. You’ve already taken a huge step by deciding to homeschool. The portfolio is as simple or complicated as you decide to make it. Show educational growth in whatever format you choose. Have fun, and tailor it to you and your child. Customize learning to your lifestyle. It’s the best part of homeschooling!