by Janny Jackson
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What is a homeschool portfolio?
Why do I need one? Who is it for?
Having started homeschooling in a state that had no requirements, Michigan, and moving to a state that has a few, Florida, this was my first time creating a homeschool portfolio, and I must say I was a bit intimidated by it at first. After seeing several examples of other homeschool mom’s binders, I decided on the method below.
Not everything I did is necessary or needed but it helped me to keep everything neat and orderly. With this walk through, I hope that my example and what I have learned will help you create one with confidence, whether you need it for state requirements, or for personal record keeping.
Florida requires a letter of intent to the school county you reside in (you will put the original form in your binder), a yearly evaluation by a FL certified teacher, samples of work collected throughout the year from the beginning, middle, and end of the year, as well as a record of days schooled, such as a planner. As long as you continue to homeschool you do not have to submit a letter of intent every year, and most people keep a planner of some sort to organize the days. Collecting the work can be a process you do throughout the school year, or you can wait and do it all at the end of your year.
Be sure to DATE EVERYTHING! This will make the process much easier.
Even if your state does not require all or any of these things, it is still a great idea to create one for your own personal records, and as a keepsake of sorts. It allows you to put together your children’s work in a way that shows their improvement throughout the year, and collects memories and work done without having to find storage for all the bulky workbooks.
Also, God forbid, if you are ever questioned as your child’s parent and teacher about the quality and quantity of your schooling, it’s the perfect way to prove that your child is receiving a proper education according to what your state requires.
For the 2021-2022 school year, I had two students, a kindergarten and second grader. I chose to store all of both of their work into one binder for the sake of saving on storage space.
For this current school year, I will be doing separate binders for each student, being that this school year has a heavier work load than last school year.
Materials needed, per child:
3″ binder (this is an affordable 2 pack with great reviews)
Page Protectors (trust me you will need the big pack!)
Beginning, middle, and end DATED samples of work, for each subject, for the school year.
(I chose to do 2 samples of work per month. This is not necessary, just personal preference.)
paper cutter (I had this one for over 10 years. The quality is incredible!)
optional: hole puncher (depending on if you choose to use page protectors or not)
These are the items I brought to our evaluation. Our binder, my planner, and a workbook for each student that I didn’t want to rip pages out of. The binder was full anyway so it would not have fit even if I did.
I first added dividers to the binder, one divider per subject, per child, as well as one for a table of contents in the beginning, as you can see.
Remember, this is our very first portfolio, so I chose to add in previous year’s work into this one, for my records only. It was not something I had to do as a requirement for the year.
I do not have pictures of everything in the table of contents but it contains our letter of intent, a table of contents of all curriculums used for each child, reading logs (group and individual), and a field trip log. Side note, for the reading logs you do not have to have an exhaustive list or keep perfect records of all books read. They just want to see some, not all.
The order of the dividers for the separate subjects is personal preference. I outsourced an art class for both kids and had records sent to me at the end of the class, so I put those records first in the art divider section, followed by images of their art work.
The order of the binder was third grader- dividers including art, creative writing, spelling, math, language arts. Then I did my first graders work in the same order. All subjects separate, but grouped together for each child. Here are some samples of the order.
Writing With Ease
These pages are from a nonfiction reading workbook that focused on reading comprehension
At the beginning of each divider for each subject I provided the table of contents of each curriculum book. I just ripped it out of the curriculum book, used my paper cutter to slice off the spiral bound edges, and put it into page protectors. I have seen others make copies of it for the binder instead of ripping it out.
More math. I honestly kept more than necessary just because of some of the neat assignments he had that I wanted to keep.
Now, on to my first graders work. At the beginning of her section I included her about me page she did at the beginning of the year.
For her handwriting I just ripped out some pages and put them all together in a page divider, since they were small pages.
And that’s it! It isn’t nearly as hard or intimidating as you may think, but if you wait until the end of the school year (like I did) to start putting it together, plan on spending a couple hours, or evenings, ripping pages out and putting them in your binder. It feels so amazing to be able to see all of your child’s work in one place, and to be able to discard the rest of those bulky workbooks.
If you follow my method, or this post gives you the confidence and extra boost you need to get your homeschool portfolio together, I would love to know!