Stay on Track Using a Homeschool Portfolio

By Angela Hurd


Portfolios are important for many reasons.   A portfolio is a showcase of your year of homeschooling.  It shows not only what your child learned throughout the year, but more importantly, how much your child has grown academically.   A reviewer can evaluate this growth with confidence by reading through a well-documented portfolio.  It is also an encouragement to you as you are collecting samples and noticing the growth that you may not see on a daily basis.  Your child can also look at his or her own growth, giving him/her confidence and pride in the work that’s been done.  In addition, it is a wonderful keepsake to look back on.  Kids have so much fun checking out their work from a few years back and comparing it to their current work, a great critical thinking skill!


No matter when you purchase your pre-assembled portfolio, it is a great time to get started.  You’ll notice that each portfolio has cover sheets for each subject area along with sheet protectors for work samples.  You can start collecting work samples any time and put them in the portfolios.  You want to put in work samples from all parts of the school year in order to show the progress of your child's skills.  It is really important to fill out the cover sheets completely.  The portfolio reviewer gleans valuable information from this part of the portfolio:  what you used for curriculum and, most importantly, your expertise on the progress your child has made throughout the school year.  It is a great place to brag about your child’s accomplishments and overcoming obstacles.  You can start filling this out at any time of the year as well.  Also, you may want to include photos of things your child has worked on that you can’t fit into a portfolio.  For example, you may have an artwork wall.  Take a photo and include it in the portfolio.  You may be involved in outside activities like a music group or karate.  Pictures are a great way to show the reviewer all of the things you are involved in that show your child’s well-rounded education. 


The lists are also important in the portfolio.  You’ll notice there are reading lists and field trip lists.  You’ll want to start filling these out as soon as you have your pre-assembled portfolio.  Do you need to write down every single book that your child has read?  Probably not.  Just know that you want to give the reviewer a sense of your child’s level and breadth of reading.  The field trip list can be filled out as you attend fields trips, including virtual field trips. 


Some choose to keep their portfolio close by and add to it every few weeks while others like to wait and fill it up at the end of the year.  That is all up to you!  Just keep in mind that your goal is to show your child’s academic growth and that you need samples from all parts of the school year.  The cover sheet is very important to fill out along with the other forms: attendance, journal entries (samples of your weekly lesson plans), field trip log, and reading lists. 


In the end, you will not only have a valuable tool for assessing your child's progress, but a great family keepsake that you can share and look back on from time to time.


Angela Hurd received her BA from Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN in English Education/Bible and was an English teacher for 18 years at Belfast Area High School in Belfast, ME.  She is now gratefully homeschooling her two young sons in her small town of Morrill.  She loves reading books with her boys, talking about politics with her husband, singing worship music, and learning something new every day!