Monday, September 30, 2019

Homeschooling Record Keeping - The Portfolio

The Homeschool Portfolio
What is a Homeschool Portfolio, and why should you keep one?

A Homeschool Portfolio, in some states (such as mine), can be a way of certifying to the state that your child has, in fact, received an education in the past year (this is not legal advice, be sure to research the laws of your state). For this reason, some home educators find them intimidating - but they're really simple to assemble!

A Homeschool Portfolio is also wonderful keepsake - a way to remember what things your child did and learned in a particular academic year. I love being able to look back and see all the happy memories of earlier years.

A Homeschool Portfolio also a great organization system, because once you have curated the best items of the year into one tidy binder, the remainder of worksheets, scratch paper, writing efforts and artwork can be freely discarded if you do desire. All your happy memories are tidily arranged in one spot!

How to assemble one? 

Well, the ways to make them are as unique as the people who make them.

Most of the online articles I've seen involve pretty print-outs, but I'm not a pretty printout sort of Mom ; )

Our Portfolio is very utilitarian, and relies upon my daughter's actual work to make it attractive.

If the mood strikes her in a given year, she might make a piece of art to grace the cover.

I use a plain 3-ring binder, usually about 1" or 1 1/2" thick (thicker is fine if you need it!)

At the beginning of the school year, I put .in some filler paper, graph paper, and various yet-to-be completed assignment pages - such as workbook pages or writing assignments.

During the course of a school year, I add these things to our binder:

If she receives a certificate for some achievement during the year, like completing swim lessons, or finishing a level of music education - that goes in the portfolio.

When she finishes a "grade" of Math in Khan Academy, there is a list of all the skills that were learned in that grade. I copy that into a word processing document, and print it out for the portfolio.

I keep some plastic sleeves in the portfolio with samples of her best artwork, tickets to plays, brochures from field trips - the type of thing you might put in a scrapbook.
Our state requires "work samples" from the student, which is challenging because most of her work has been done on the computer, or is not normally recorded. It is hard to have a sample of something like reading aloud, flashcards, singing a memory song, giving a speech, or an oral spelling test.

So, I make a point to do some work offline primarily for the purpose of creating a portfolio. Not busy work, but some well-chosen assignments that will supplement her online work.  We usually have some time during the year when we are away from technology - whether we're traveling, or simply have a power outage because of a storm! During these times, I use workbook-type materials which create a record of her current learning. I actually keep these pages in her portfolio before they're completed, and she uses it as a school notebook, as she finishes the work, it's already in her portfolio.

I really like Amy Maryon's Free Curriculum for the needed workbook-type pages. And of course, there are many other great paper resources out there, too! 

Some assignments, like book reports or handwriting practice, naturally create a paper trail - and they're completed on the paper already in the portfolio! If typed, we print them, hole punch them, and add them as soon as they're done.

I also keep representative copies of her handwritten working-out of math problems (what we called "scratch paper" when we were in school!). She does this on the graph paper that was already in her notebook.

At the end of the academic year, we print out The Annual Academic Summary and The Daily Log and put them in the front of the binder.

Since we add pages to the portfolio all year, and do much of the work right in the portfolio binder, "assembling" it at the end of the year is as simple as removing those pages that don't belong. Pages that aren't complete are removed, or put in the NEXT year's portfolio, to be done later.

If pages are redundant, they're removed and can be discarded if we wish. Which is to say, if she did 100 pages of addition drill, it doesn't ALL need to be left in the portfolio.

Perhaps I should mention, as a side note, that we don't follow "graded" curriculum. I don't think to myself, "She's in First Grade, so we must start and finish a First Grade Language Arts book this year!" Instead, I teach by skill - so "Phonics," "Spelling," "Bible," "Foreign Language," or "Multiplication" simply take however long they take, with no concern for grade level (more than a year, less than a year, it doesn't matter). It doesn't bother me a bit to move unfinished pages from one year's book to the next, if needed. Likewise, we might complete a Khan Academy Math "Grade" in the middle of a year, and immediately start the next one.
 So, that's it! Once the portfolio is assembled, it's ready for review, and then it can be placed in our family archive. Electronic documents (Annual Summary and Log) are also filed in our electronic archives, for handy access.

In summary, at the end of the year, our portfolio contains some or all of the following: 
Annual Summary
Daily Log
Artwork Samples
Creative Writing Samples
Math Samples
Research or Science Project Documentation, if applicable
Tickets, memorabilia (photos if desired)
Printouts of Khan Academy Math Skills Summary
And anything else we feel is appropriate that year!

I hope you find this helpful.

This is being shared on:
You're the Star
Literacy Musing Monday
Tuesdays with a Twist 
Making a Home Homemaking Linkup 
Happy Now
Let's Have Coffee
Wise Woman
Encouraging Hearts & Homes
Booknificent Thursday

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