It’s the time of year when many of us are winding down our homeschool for the season. You may be finishing strong and looking back on a year of exciting successes. Or you may be collapsing in exhaustion, eager to leave this year behind you.

No matter how your school year ends, looming deadlines can make this time of year stressful for even the most organized homeschool parent: frantic scrambling to locate those pesky homeschool documents, pulling together a portfolio, and maybe even meeting with a professional evaluator.  Yikes!

Let us help you take some of the worry out of your end-of-the-year duties by giving you step-by-step guidelines for putting together a simple portfolio that will showcase all your hard work and give you the tools you need to document your student’s academic progress.

Decide on a format for your portfolio.

The traditional three-ring binder or accordion folder is always a low-cost option. If you prefer a more high-tech approach where everything is organized in real time and there is no panicked searching for documents at the end of the year, you can use Instagram and a free app called Seesaw to put together a digital portfolio.

Keep your eyes on the prize.

It’s important to remind yourself what you are actually seeking to accomplish. Your goal is simple: to showcase your child’s progress over the course of the school year. 

Do you need to include every single piece of work you’ve done all year? No. Do you need to prove that your child has achieved mastery in every subject area? Nope. Do you need to create a Pinterest-worthy masterpiece of a portfolio that will garner a record number of likes on your Facebook page? Absolutely not.  Keep your goal in mind and don’t give in to anxiety.

Include the relevant essentials.

Make sure you include your child’s basic information: name, date of birth, grade level and school year.

Add anything stipulated in your state requirements. This is the place for your letter of intent, attendance records, log of instructional hours, test scores, transcripts, curriculum list or books read.  Not sure of your state’s regulations? Connect with your state homeschool organization here.    

Provide sample work from each subject. Select examples that show growth in each area over the course of the school year. Make sure you pick work from a few different times throughout the year in each subject (one example from the fall, one from winter, and one from spring in each subject is typically fine).

Add a personal touch. No need to go overboard!

Give yourself freedom to assemble the portfolio in a way that highlights the unique strengths of your student (and your homeschool). No one knows your child’s gifts and interests like you do! This is your opportunity to showcase what makes your homeschool special. Consider including one or more of the following:

  • Read-alouds or audiobooks completed
  • Art projects
  • Field trips
  • Extracurricular activities like sports, scouting or club activities
  • Community service hours
  • Theater or musical performances attended
  • Foreign language experiences
  • Science projects
  • Stories or poems your student has written
  • Co-op classes
  • Nature journaling samples
  • Handcrafts
  • A list of achievements or awards
  • A letter from a coach, music teacher, co-op leader or other instructor who spent significant time with your child
  • Pictures of your child

We hope these guidelines will give you a framework for success. If you find the portfolio process painful, take steps now to make things easier on yourself in the coming year.  Buy next year’s portfolio supplies now including binders, a file box, subject dividers and sheet protectors. Consider setting a reminder on your phone that will go off once a month and prompt you to add work samples to portfolio. With a little foresight and some steady plodding each month, you can spend this time next year savoring your homeschool memories with a beautiful portfolio in hand.

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Aimee grew up in rural Michigan, where she was captivated by Jesus as a teenager and married her high school sweetheart. Together they moved to New England where they homeschool their two children together. Aimee has a Master's degree in Biblical Languages from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She enjoys exploring new places, reading great stories, and enjoying the outdoors with her family.