Wondering how to create a homeschool portfolio or notebook? Here is what works for us to keep Mom and student organized for the year!
I’ve been homeschooling for almost two decades now. And I’ve learned that one thing that can send many of us homeschool parents into a slight panic is assessment and keeping up with progress. But I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be complicated.
A notebook is a perfect way to track your child’s progress through the year and keep a handle on their work. Many states require parents to keep a portfolio like this, but even if your state doesn’t, I would challenge you to consider the value of creating one anyway. It keeps Mom and student organized and ready for the year, as well as each homeschool day. Wondering how to create a homeschool portfolio or notebook?
What Exactly IS a Homeschool Portfolio?
The purpose of a homeschool portfolio is to provide a picture of your educational journey. The most important fact to remember: a homeschool portfolio is a snapshot, not the whole story. We are not aiming at saving every single one of Johnny’s handwriting sheets here. We just want to give a sampling. Honestly, there is no need to keep every single handwriting page anyway! Your notebooks and boxes will be overflowing with mundane details.
When deciding if something should go in the portfolio, I weigh it against these questions:
Does this show fairly significant progress?
Does this provide essential proof of learning (like a test, quiz, or essay)?
Does this particular item have special meaning to my child?
What Ages or Grades Should I Use It For?
Often we get tangled up with this question. The answer might surprise you. I think EVERY AGE and grade is perfect for a homeschool portfolio. As soon as you start intentionally homeschooling your child, keep a record of it. Grade or age doesn’t really matter.
The older your child gets, the more you will see the need for this helpful tool. For middle school and high school students, the portfolio is a wonderful organizational record of your child’s coursework. Even if your state requires a formal report card or testing, the portfolio will be the perfect backbone for the process.
When Should I Start a Homeschool Portfolio?
Let me tell you my secret. If you want to be successful at making this homeschool portfolio thing happen this year, you must put it together BEFORE the school year begins. I always set up the portfolio before we start school each year.
It is a fluid process, so I don’t mind if the sections or lists change throughout the year. But I have found that if I don’t have something in place before the school books open, I will be sitting in the school room with a pile of unorganized chaos at Christmas. No one wants that.
What Is Inside the Homeschool Portfolio?
All of the pages mentioned below are included in the Student Record and Planner.
Section One: Planning
1. About Me sheet—> This is our favorite first-day activity, and it’s such fun to look at as the year goes by.
2. Yearly Goals—> If you have little ones, just talk to them about what they might make as a goal for that year. Allow them to draw pictures, and you can record their answers with keywords or phrases. Don’t skip this. It’s a great skill to teach your kiddos! Older kids can really think through each question about what they hope to achieve this school year.
3. List of curriculum for the year—> Here, I make a list of what we are using for each subject, complete with the name of the book or whatever information I feel is pertinent.
4. Homeschool calendars and attendance records come next.
In every state I have ever lived in, you must count and record attendance for 180 school days. I let my kids check off the day at the beginning of the school day.
Section Two: Subjects
Here is where we include reading and media records:
1. Reading Record —> I have my kids record every book they read: date, title, author, and their star rating. Seeing all they’ve accomplished throughout the year inspires them to keep reading!
2. Media Record —> We live in a media-rich culture. And some of it can be highly beneficial to schooling. So we include sheets where they can record any media they’ve consumed: date, title, type, and their star rating.
Section Three: Assessments
This section is for Mom only if your kids are still in elementary. As your kids get older, they may enjoy filling out this section on their own. This is the place where I collect pertinent information that shows their progress. Depending on how you homeschool, this section could look very different. Here are some basic things you might include:
Pre-tests or assessments done at the beginning of the year—> It’s great to know where your students stand academically. That actually was the original purpose behind the concept of a test. While I think that tests have become grossly misused, they still stand as a good measurement of progress. I always start the year with my little guys by doing some basic assessments. That way, I can show them how much they have learned.
Section Four: Student Recording
1. The Weekly Checklist goes next. This checklist is how we keep track of grades and progress each week. It’s also how I assign chores. Students will use this section to check off each subject and task as it is completed each day.
2. Field Trip Evaluation —> We use this section to keep track of the field trips we take throughout the year. They have space to write what they learned, what they liked, and what challenged them on this field trip. They can even give it a star rating.
Section Five: Progress Reports
Quarterly progress reports—> My state requires these, but even if they didn’t, it’s kind of fun. They are great to share with Dad or grandparents. Plus, it’s a good habit to start getting ready for the high school years.
And that’s it. Pretty simple, huh? The bulk of our planner is actually the weekly checklists for much of the year. I store these planners in a box in the attic, along with a portfolio notebook of sample work. Each child has a box of their own. Someday, they can keep the notebooks and planners. Meanwhile, I have them ready to showcase our work from year to year!
Find out more about our Student Record and Planner here.
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.