The summer sun was sweltering through the window panes of her school room, placing droplets of sweat across her forehead. Wait. Maybe those sweat droplets were more from the massive pile of homeschool papers all disheveled and taunting her like nasty little gremlins. Yeah, that sounds about right.
The school year had ended. The kids were
happily playing in the backyard fighting over water guns and here she was sitting in the school room trying to make sense of an entire year of learning.
Can you relate?
Maybe you’ve never actually lived out this scene, but I know you’ve been there. At the end of every school year we are faced with the task of putting together the work we’ve done and presenting it in the form of a portfolio. It’s daunting. But honestly, that’s because we make it that way. You see, whether you need one or not, I think the portfolio is the most important part of your homeschool. But that doesn’t mean we have to make it the most difficult part!
We’re the problem. (Go ahead. Admit it. I promise it will feel good.)
And the good news is, when we are the problem, we have the ultimate power to fix the problem. So let me give you a quick tip that will save your sanity in this homeschool portfolio process: Throw stuff away.
Profound, huh? Seriously, when I first started evaluating students as a state homeschool evaluator in Florida, I found that parents would come to the meeting with literally every single paper their child had written on for the entire school year. On the surface this seems like a great idea, but it’s actually the opposite. An evaluator needs to see progress. It’s difficult to do that when he/she is forced to weed through 700 math sheets.
The purpose of a portfolio is to showcase the best and draw attention to the progress your child has made throughout the year. This is best done by being selective, which means you will be throwing away some of the work done throughout the year. (Don’t worry, I promise you can learn to part with those precious papers without tears.)
Be intentional with what you choose to keep.
We do this by simply keeping the week’s work in the front pocket of our notebook. At the end of the week, I have the kids go through and choose their best work. Not their favorites. Their best. Typically we will keep 1-3 items per subject, max. As they get older, I don’t even keep this much as I rely on tests, projects, and essays to reveal what has been learned rather than daily work.
When you start this with your kids, you will find that they become more interested in doing excellent work because they learn to recognize what is better. Of course, you may need to do some coaching at first, especially if your kiddos are young. Simply lay out the assignments from the week and point out things that stand out about the one that seems to best represent their growth.
Remember, don’t always focus on academic growth. We want to see our kids grow emotionally, spiritually, and physically, too. Which means excellent handwriting and papers with deep stories/connections are excellent candidates for the portfolio.
Simple enough? I thought so!
If you’d like more tips like this, join us this summer in the quest to organize your homeschool from the ground up! Click on the image below for more details.