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Making a homeschool portfolio is important for so many reasons. You may need one for your students end of the year evaluation, and you need a portfolio to show progress throughout the school year. It is a snapshot of your child’s learning and the work you have invested in their schooling. There are many ways you can create one but I am going to show you what works best for us.
Creating a Homeschool Portfolio Binder
At the start of our new school year, I make a new binder for each child. We sit down together and they answer some fun questions and I take their picture. Then I go into Canva, create a cute layout and print it out. I buy the binders with the clear cover so I can slide it in. Always buy the large 3-inch binders, a lot of work goes into those homeschool portfolios over the course of a year!
Covering State Standards when you Homeschool
When you homeschool you typically learn everything that kids learn in public school, you just have the freedom and flexibility to use learning styles that work best for your child, so get creative and go at their pace. We live in Florida so homeschoolers do have to have a portfolio reviewed by a certified teacher each year (unless you use an umbrella school). Be sure to research the homeschooling requirements in your home state.
When I plan my children’s lessons, I work hard to ensure we cover all of the state standards. At the beginning of the year, I print them off by their grade levels and keep them in their portfolio. I go online to find lessons that cover the standards (more than one per lesson is my goal. You can do this by mixing in Language arts with social studies standards. Once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier). Once I feel my students have mastered them, I highlight them. This is not only good for the portfolio but gives us an idea as to where we are in our school year and what we may need to work harder in.
Organizing Homeschool Portfolios
Organizing homeschool portfolios can be done in several ways. It’s all a matter of what works best for you and you will learn that as you go along. I’ve done it a few different ways. This is our 5th year of homeschooling and this system is what works best for us.
I plan my lessons weekly. Every Sunday I sit down and plan it all out and prep for the week. We school 4 days a week and have one day for park day with our homeschool group. When I plan I create an agenda in google docs for each of my children. I print off my children’s agenda each day and place it in their binder. The agenda includes the school work they must complete for that day, chores and anything extra going on, such as doctor appointments. It also includes the things that they must do prior to having their screen time. We school year round so this system really works for us. If they complete all of their work, chores and other requirements, then they earn their screen time. It is simple, they know what is expected and it saves us all time and hassle. I slide their agenda and any worksheets they need into the front pocket. I keep the binders in a big basket on the table along with their pens, pencils and any other materials they need for the day.
In addition to the work listed on their agenda, every day they also get a story read to them, we do calendar math, we count to 100 in some way (2’s, 5’s, etc) and my emerging reader does sight word flashcards.
After they complete their work each day, I use a 3 hole punch on all of their work and their agenda and place it in the back of their homeschool portfolio binder with the agenda for that day on top. This way it will go in chronological order starting from the beginning. Organizing homeschool portfolios in some way is important, you don’t want it to be difficult to locate work, assessments or make it difficult to see progress because it is all over the place. Some people like to keep it organized by subject matter, and that also works. This just works best for us. I like to be able to look back and see what we worked on each day. You can also easily see how far they have come since the beginning of the year!
In the pockets of their homeschool portfolios are their sight words, alphabet number lines – basically whatever grade level appropriate repetitive work they need. Those are part of the things they do daily.
Many of the states that require portfolios also require that you keep them for two to three years after the yearly evaluation. I personally keep them forever. It is not just their school work, but a physical representation into all of the hard work that you both have done and a beautiful time capsule of memories made learning and growing together. You can also make a digital portfolio but I prefer a binder because it is also a keepsake.
For more great tips about organizing your homeschoolers life and keeping track of your lessons and daily routines, check out our page called How to Homeschool.