What Should I Keep in My Child’s Portfolio?

We have reached the last day of the homeschool planning mini-series! Thanks so much for joining me over this past week. I hope each post has been immensely helpful for getting your ducks in a row for next school year. Today we discuss what to keep in your child’s homeschool portfolio to ensure that you’re abiding by your state’s homeschool laws and keeping a good sampling of their work for that year.

Here are the topics for the other days in the series:

Day 1: Planning Your Homeschool Year

Day 2: Homeschool Schedules and Routines

Day 3: The Relaxed Homeschooler’s Guide to Picking Curriculum

Day 4: Non-Book Learning for Your Homeschool

Day 5: What Should I Keep in My Child’s Portfolio?

This is also part of a blog hop with the Homeschool Review Crew – today is the final day. You’ll find the Linky with the other posts at the bottom of this article.

This article originally appeared on my old blog, Townsley Times. If you came here looking for this particular article but thought you were going to a different site, never fear, you’re actually in the right place. 🙂

Constitutional Literacy by Michael Farris

Again, go back to your state requirements that you listed in Day 1. This is the only way to ensure you are complying with the law. As I mentioned before, I support giving them ONLY what they need, nothing more, nothing less.

What if your state doesn’t require a homeschool portfolio or any type of evaluation? Awesome! But you should still keep a portfolio for you own records either way. It’s not just for posterity, though. You will have a physical record of work being done, and this is helpful so you know what each child has already covered, and also as a cover your butt type of deal.

In some states, the superintendent can request to see a portfolio at any time. My guess is that this occurs if a child welfare case is opened. Because homeschoolers and large families and Christians seem to be on people’s radars of people to cause trouble for, I suggest always being prepared in the event this occurs. Let’s pray that unfounded claims would be dismissed expeditiously.

Anyway, you can see why it’s important to stick with the letter of the law on things such as this. Know what you need to comply.

I’m going to use Florida as an example.

“Statute defines a portfolio as

  •  A log of educational activities which is made contemporaneously with the instruction and which designates by title any reading materials used, and
  • samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks or creative materials used or developed by the student.”

This is pretty straightforward!

  • log of activities (contemporaneously = at the same time)
  • list of curricula used and books read, by title
  • samples of writing, workbooks, worksheets, and “creative materials,” which I would interpret to be samples of artwork or projects like lap books

A log of activities might seem like a drag but you can just sit once a day after school is over and jot down what you did. I actually have a printable 365 Learning Record available that is exactly for this purpose. You can use this to help you track hours, too; just write down how many hours (or percentage of an hour, like “geometry, lesson 7, .75.” I would use this even if it wasn’t required by law so I can keep up with what each kid is doing.

Next, a reading list. Just a list. Doesn’t have to have times or pages or anything else, just titles. That’s it. And your activity log will have the curricula used so you’re good in that aspect, too.

Work samples. This is where you’ll have to determine how much you want to keep. I’m going to reference Florida law again:

“Section 1002.01, Florida Statutes (F.S.), defines home education as the sequentially progressive instruction….”

We will need to show “sequentially progressive” learning. It says nothing about grade level or age, so where your child stands in comparison with others doesn’t come into play at all! (And the teacher who does the evaluation is not judging your child against any other child, either, in accordance with the statute.)

My system for holding onto school work is this:

  1. Child does work.
  2. I check it over and put a check mark and add the date.
  3. Put it into a pocket folder on our homeschool shelf.
  4. Once every week or two (okay…maybe once a month), I go through and pick out what is a good representation of what they have done. I toss anything else, after careful consideration.
  5. File those selected items in a clear file box with hanging folders.

It can be hard to know what to pick so you have to use your best judgment. But week over week and month over month, you need to show that your child is learning. In Florida, and I’m guessing in other states, it has to be progressive learning. They will want to see that your child is moving forward in each subject and/or doing more complex work. It’s pretty straightforward for math and science but other subject areas can be a little ambiguous (e.g., if you do ancient Egypt this year after doing colonial America last year, is that sequentially progressive? Not on a timeline, but what activities did you do for each? Their work should be maturing, getting more complex, or showing mastery). But do yourself a favor and don’t overthink this.

You may need to rip pages out of workbooks, or just stick the whole thing in the hanging folder. For digital curriculum, see if there’s a progress report you can print out once a month or quarterly to add straight to the file box. For group activities and experiential learning, the learning log should suffice. And pictures from events are great.

What about projects and artwork? You can keep flat pieces of art; do it using the same method as above. For projects that are bigger, you can display it for awhile, snap a pic, then toss it. There are apps you can use to keep these pictures, or just put them on your computer in a designated folder. Print them every few months and keep them in your file box with the other samples. If you have a color printer, you can print one large photo for each project and put it straight into that child’s folder for that year.

Try to keep everything you put in the file box in chronological order. This will help come evaluation time and if you ever need to find something in particular. And use a cover sheet for each year, too. That way there is no confusion as to what is what!

PIN IT FOR LATER! Continued below….

What Should I Keep in My Child's Portfolio? A common question each spring in the #homeschool world. Here are some tips and strategies for keeping what you need. Part of my 5 Days of Homeschool Planning Mini-Series #allthehomeschoolthings

Florida law only states that I need to keep these items for two years, but one file box will go a long way, depending how much you keep each year and how many kids you have. I would organize it by year and then by kid.

So to recap, follow the law for your state. If there are no laws, it is very simple to just keep the following:

  • activity log
  • reading log
  • field trip log
  • entire workbooks
  • lapbooks
  • timelines folded up
  • entire notebooks and journals
  • progress reports and printed projects from online or digital curricula

Then add selections from the following:

  • single worksheets
  • your child’s best artwork
  • pictures of projects that are not flat and would not fit in a file folder
  • photos from co-ops and group events
  • books reports and writings

And you’re done!

Today’s planning resources include a homeschool portfolio planning sheet and a cover sheet you can use year after year. These are now available (along with each post and ALL the handouts for each day of the series) in my shop – the Plan Your Homeschool in 5 Days e-book!

Thanks so much for joining me! I hope this series was a blessing to you and helped you knock out most of your planning for next year, if not all of it. If you have any feedback for me, you can contact me anytime.

Today is the last day for the Homeschool Review Crew blog hop. I hope this week’s posts have been a great resource for you!

One reply to What Should I Keep in My Child’s Portfolio?

  1. Pingback:

Comments are closed.