Homeschool portfolios are an important and convenient method of recording homeschool progress and organizing information. This article will assist you in creating, maintaining and presenting your homeschool portfolio for assessment, evaluation and review.
A homeschool portfolio is a collection of material to showcase your child’s learning. Many states require an annual assessment of homeschooled students. Parents can choose to either have their child tested or present a portfolio for review and acceptance. In Maine, the portfolio can be presented to a certified Maine teacher or a homeschool support group whose membership includes a certified Maine teacher. Most parents choose the portfolio review option. Keeping a homeschool portfolio not only helps to comply with the law but also aids parents and children in recording their progresses and accomplishments. A portfolio is also an important record for entry into school or college or obtaining a high school diploma.
There is no right or wrong way to create a portfolio. The materials contained in a portfolio are decided by the parents and child. Material chosen should be varied to reflect what the child has learned, experienced and accomplished. Suggested items to include are:
1. A journal which notes activities and progress
2. A list of resources such as books, computer software, games, toys and outside classes.
3. Samples of the child’s work including letters written to friends and family (photocopy these before they are sent), poems, stories, songs and other forms of creative writing, drawings, audio tapes of singing, talking, reading aloud, or playing a musical instrument, video tapes of a dramatic performance or musical talent, and any text book or workbook pages.
4. Photos of field trips, artwork, projects and family life.
5. Brochures and booklets from field trips and other activities.
6. A list of books that the child has read. Include the title and author.
7. Goals for the year.
A homeschool portfolio should start being prepared at the beginning of the homeschool year. A notebook can be used for a journal. Begin by collecting samples of work, organizing them by subject. Take pictures as your child reads, plays, dances – anything you’d like! Take pictures at field trips and of your child’s projects and creations. A photo album or scrapbook can be used to organize the pictures as well as brochures and other paper items. Clear see-through sheet protectors are also an excellent way to collect and store work samples and brochures. A few goals for the year can be noted as well as a list of the resources that will be used. These can always be modified during the year as needed. Now is a good time to begin a list of books read, if chosen.
Portfolio maintenance should include regular journal entries and an ongoing collection of work samples, photos and whatever else you wish to include. Maine’s homeschool law requires a plan for a quarterly assessment at least four times during the homeschool year. This quarterly assessment is a time for parents and children to reflect upon their progress and accomplishments from the past few months. No written assessment or review is required. A journal entry to note observations can be made. One goal of maintaining a homeschool portfolio is to meet the legal requirement for an annual assessment.
Preparing for a portfolio review involves sorting through all of the material that has been collected through the year and deciding what contents will best reflect the homeschool year. The purpose of the review is to provide a general overview of the homeschool year, demonstrate that the child is engaged in homeschooling and that progress is being made.
The portfolio review is often a time of excitement. Parents and children often love to talk about what they have been doing at home. It might be helpful to write down a summary of the items you wish to highlight during your year before the review, like if your child learned to read or master a skill. The review should not be used to pressure, judge or ridicule but rather to listen, learn and support. It is not necessary for children to be present for the review but many enjoy sharing their accomplishments and progress with other homeschoolers and the review is a perfect opportunity to do so.