I don’t know about your family, but my family produces large amounts of homeschool papers every day. There are math lessons, worksheets, tests, notebooking sheets, maps, and more. What do you do with all of these papers that pile up all over the house?
You organize them with a portfolio.
Portfolios are awesome tools for everyone, not just homeschoolers in states that require a yearly evaluation. You have a place to put the papers. You have documentation of your children’s education over the past year. Kids have a notebook of their learning to show off to grandparents.
How to Create a Portfolio
Purchase a thick 3-ring binder for each child you’re homeschooling. I like to color code my children's notebooks so the binders are easy to see and grab as I’m organizing papers. It speeds up the entire process.
In each binder I place subject dividers. Label the dividers using designations that make sense to you. You can use specific terms such as 7th grade math, biology, or Middle Ages. You can also use general terms such as language arts, science, and history.
I prefer using general terms such as math, science, history, art, and English so I can make changes as needed without changing the portfolio. We’ve yet to have a year pass that I haven’t made some changes to our homeschool between the semesters.
Encourage your children to decorate their portfolios to their hearts’ content. They can add pictures and stickers to the binder. Hand out markers and have the children doodle. Kids love to personalize their portfolios, and the artwork simply makes it easier to recognize whose binder is whose.
Consider labeling the binder with the school year as well. When the various portfolios are sitting on the shelf, it’s easier to find the school year you need if it’s labeled.
What to Put into the Portfolio
I must admit I do not put every single paper we produce into the portfolio. Daily math sheets alone would burst the seams. Instead I store only the papers I wish to keep long term.
Math tests, science lab reports, notebooking pages, poetry, writing assignments, artwork, and maps are carefully filed into the portfolio. Lapbooks we create are also tucked carefully into the binder. At the end of the year, there should be a representative sample of everything we studied.
As kids approach high school, it’s useful to keep a course list and grades in the front of the portfolio. Believe me, creating a transcript is much easier with all the information you need sitting right at the front of the binder.
Reading lists are also useful. Not all colleges or universities require a list of the books read and studied over the high school years, but a few do. It’s impossible to remember every book a homeschool child reads over four years. Just keep a couple sheets of paper in the front and jot down the books your child reads. It may come in handy during that senior year.
A good portfolio should be easy to keep organized. Simply take a few minutes each week to file the papers you want to keep in the binder. I prefer to file the papers on Friday, but pick the time most convenient for you.
Any time you need to access a record of what you actually accomplished, even if it’s simply for your own peace of mind, all the information is there waiting for you in the portfolio.
About the Author
Sara Dennis is a homeschooling mother of 6 children ages 4 through 18. After much research into homeschooling in 2000, she and her husband fell in love with classical education and used it as the foundation for their homeschool. Sara Dennis blogs at Classically Homeschooling.