Whether you are new or old to homeschooling,g creating homeschool portfolios is one challenge that many parents dread doing each year. While they are often necessary as part of your state requirements, they are also a great way to look back on your kids progress to evaluate what is working and what isn’t. These tips are perfect for helping you make this easier to manage without all of the stress.
How To Create Homeschool Portfolios
A homeschool portfolio is a simple method of storing tests, reports, and progress from your school year in one place. There are many methods of doing this, but the tips below are basic things to cover or use when creating a homeschool portfolio. These tips will help make it easier to manage year to year, and make sure you have everything covered as needed.
Check your state requirements for portfolios. Before you begin creating your homeschool portfolios, you need to double check what your state requirements are regarding a portfolio or submission of student work. Some states require monthly meetings. Others require an annual portfolio to be presented. Still other states only require an intention to homeschool be submitted annually.
To find requirements, you can first check your state board of education or homeschool website. When in doubt, check with your local public school superintendent office for information on where to find this. Since each state is different, there is no standard place to locate your state homeschool rules. It is, however, vital for every homeschool family to make sure they follow state guidelines. While you may not always agree with the guidelines of your state, if you do not follow their requirements, you can easily be prosecuted for truancy or have home visits to make sure you are educating your children properly. This isn’t something to mess with and must be followed to protect your right to homeschool your child.
Use color coding to stay organized. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you use bins, folders, binders, or envelopes. Color coding, however, makes it much easier to manage. I have a few suggestions for how to code using the classic binder method. You can adapt this to your own preferred storage methods like filing cabinets, storage bins, or envelopes as needed.
- Assign each child a color for their binder. I choose brighter colors like neons for this so the core colors can be used identically throughout their binders on subjects.
- Assign each subject a color. Our colors are as follows: blue for history, green for science, red for math, yellow for language arts (includes spelling/vocabulary/English), purple for reading and creative writing. Since these are the core subjects, they are the most important. Things like languages, art, music, robotics, programming, and other elective courses can be assigned other colors or lumped together if not required by your state.
- Assign colors for sub categories. Since each subject will have specific requirements for reporting, I also add in tabs for sub categories. Under each subject I have a tab for the following: review, reports, quizzes, chapter testing, mid-term testing, annual testing.
I utilize 5” binders since they hold a lot of paperwork and can last all year long. For each child, I have a single binder. I then add in dividers with tabs for each subject using the color coding above. This keeps everything together in one location and makes it simple to reference as requested by state officials or just for my own quarterly reports.
Sort and file on a regular basis. If you plan to keep a portfolio, it really is important to stay on top of the filing system. If you go for weeks or months without filing items in their appropriate place, you are going to lose items, and be extremely frustrated when it is time to assemble and share with state homeschool officials. One thing to consider is creating a filing box on your desk and spend one morning per week adding work to their binders and your filing system. Some do this on a daily basis as well.
One thing I do not put into portfolios are the extra review pages, flash cards, and art projects that aren’t relevant to their grade. Homework doesn’t happen as we complete classwork as we go, so loose papers and assignments can be filed away in a separate area for review prior to tests. I usually keep those papers together in a filing cabinet or simple tote with file folders and purge quarterly according to what I would like to keep for review purposes, and what can be purged or shredded.
Purge unnecessary items. At the end of each quarter, I go back through the homeschool portfolios as well as the filing cabinets and purge any items that just aren’t needed. For items I want to keep on hand, but not have cluttering my filing system, I either put in a labeled storage box, or I scan and save to a file on my computer. This is a great way to keep paper clutter to a minimum, and make your homeschool portfolios sleek and functional.
Save portfolios year to year. At the end of each year, I take large manila envelopes and use them to pull each subjects contents out of the binder for storage. Depending on how much is included, I will have an envelope for each subject, then occasionally additional envelopes for each sub category. I then will label these and put into a storage box that goes into the attic. This makes them easy to access, as well as easy to locate specific subjects in a matter of minutes if they are needed for reference at a future time.
If you have state standardized testing done, or any paperwork that is given to you annually from your state homeschool board, you can store those copies with each grade level box and portfolio for easy access as needed.
Creating a homeschool portfolio is a great way to keep track of and evaluate your kids progress throughout the year as well as year to year. Even if your state does not require this as a homeschooling family, it is an excellent organizational tool that many will love.