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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

5 Reasons You Should Create a Homeschool Portfolio

5 Reasons You Should Create a Homeschool Portfolio

The school year is quickly coming to a close. We're winding down and looking towards the finish line. It's been a good year, but we're more than ready for summer and the gentler pace of sneaky learning.

We'll all keep plugging away until the final day, but until then, I have begun organizing our piles of school work and projects in order to stuff them into our annual Portfolio Assessment binder, a primitive scrapbook of our school year.


While some homeschoolers are legally required to make a portfolio, I'm not. Technically, the only box I have to check for my state each year is the one marked, "completed annual achievement tests." But, I still make portfolios in May. No matter what. And here's why.

5 Reasons You Should Create a Homeschool Portfolio

Portfolios provide a paper trail  

Classroom teachers typically complete report cards and brief narratives each year to record the progress of their students. As a homeschooler, however, I rarely assign tests or give grades to finished work. Those are two school hoops that homeschoolers don't need to jump through. I do think it's helpful to save a sampling of student work in the form of a portfolio, however. Although my state might not require sample work now, I can not assume that the law will always stay the same or that we will always live in this state. By organizing a portfolio each year, I'm creating a paper trail that may save me lots of time, energy, and effort should our current schooling situation ever change.

Portfolios simplify curriculum planning 

It's no secret that I homeschool without grade levels. That being said, I do continue to advance my kids to the next level of learning when appropriate. Portfolios help to make that process a lather-rinse-repeat situation. I can flip through past portfolios as a reminder of what books and resources I used the last time I had a child at that stage. Obviously, every child is different and so curriculum choices will always need to be tweaked. But portfolios provide a tentative starting point in my planning so that I don't always have to reinvent the wheel from year to year.

Portfolios are a helpful assessment tool  

When I was a classroom teacher, it was easy to see what "the norm" was because I had twenty or more children with which to compare. I could easily see who was excelling at all of the subjectively graded subjects like creative writing, art, and reading because I had lots of examples of completed work to sort through. As a homeschool mom, however, it is sometimes hard to determine the achievement level of my kids because I no longer have a wide range of examples at my fingertips. By saving specific work samples from year to year, I can do a quick comparison to determine whether my current child is on track based on the examples of their older siblings. Comparison should NEVER be the exclusive method for assessing a child, but it can be one of many helpful tools.

5 Reasons You Should Create a Homeschool Portfolio

Creating a portfolio provides review  

As we approach the end of the year, I often have my kids help in selecting sample work to be displayed in their portfolios. This annual tradition has become a great way for them to review some of the skills they learned and to relive some of the projects they made and field trips they took. As an added bonus, their portfolios become a well-deserved 'atta girl/boy for them. They can see the progress they've made throughout the year by looking at samples from the first few days of school and comparing them to the ones from the last few days.

Portfolios help to organize "the pile"  

Because I homeschool five kids each year, my stockpile of completed worksheets and projects can rival Jack's beanstalk. But not every piece of this or that is as valuable as the others. By creating a framework for the portfolio and determining how I want it to be organized, I can save the best and toss the rest, guilt-free, saving my house from looking like a scene from Hoarders.


Creating a homeschool portfolio is pretty simple for those families who use traditional curriculums. But we're more of the eclectic sort. Much of our learning comes in the form of living literature, projects, narratives, educational video/audio clips, and field trips. No matter. Here's how we create portfolios for our tailor-made homeschool.

More Resources for Creating Portfolios

How to Create a Homeschool Portfolio
A Video Peek Inside Our Annual Portfolios


16 comments:

  1. This is a great idea. I need to do something more formal to save their work throughout the year - other than just putting it in a random folder and putting it on a shelf. ;) I live in MI, and they don't require anything either. However, I want to get more organized in this area.

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    1. A folder full of stuff is a great idea! Portfolios look different from family to family. I just operate nicely with a binder, but one of my very best friends uses folders. Neither one is any more organized than the other. The point is, you're keeping a record. You'll be happy you did!

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  2. my state does require it as long as you are homeschooling through the county - we are technically registered under an umbrella school (also legal) but I keep binders of our work as we go - each year I begin a new one - but yours are more organized than mine- thanks for the inspiration!!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kelli. It's been nice having you along for the journey!

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  3. I've always liked the idea of having them for memories, and even did a couple when my oldest was younger. (She LOVES to look at them.) Sadly, I am just not organized enough to keep them up these days. LOL It's easier for me to chronicle our journey on my blog.

    I saw one mom using Project Life as a portfolio of sorts and it is amazing. I look forward to seeing more of your posts to see how you do it.

    Popping in from HipHH

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    1. I've never heard of project life. I'll have to look into it. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. Maine requires us to keep a portfolios and ours look very similar to yours. (We just had our portfolio assessments Sunday! And all the kids moved onto the next grade! Whoop!) Looking forward to seeing your additional posts on your portfolios! I'm always looking for new ideas! Stopping by from the Hip Homeschool Hop!

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  5. Oh, I hope you don't mind but I shared your blog entry on my Facebook since I was asked about MY portfolios and I don't have any posts on them. Your portfolios look similar to mine so I thought I'd share for others to see. Let me know if you would like me to take it down!

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    1. Glad you were able to share the portfolio info with your readers. I'll have to pop over to your place and check it out. Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. I am a huge fan of using portfolios as an assessment tool. Such a great resource you have showing others how to organize a portfolio.

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  7. This is such a great idea, especially with subsequent children. I also like the idea of having it to go back through, see areas that may have been challenging and overcome or things that may need to be worked on further for better understanding. Thank you for sharing your portfolio!

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  8. Super idea! I hadn't thought of using it for an "audit"- but from a military perspective, continuity books and folders are always helpful!!!!

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  9. We keep a portfolio throughout the year, but I really, really need to round it out with some pictures and things like this! I love to have something to show for each child at the end of a year, and it makes them feel so accomplished. I don't worry about needing to show anything to the state. Thankfully, our state is mostly free.

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  10. This was so helpful, thankyou!

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  11. Such practical cool stuff! Thank you!

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