Need some homeschool portfolio hacks to get organized and keep up with all the paperwork and such?
You're in the right place!
I'm sharing these creative ideas and tips that I've learned over the past 9 years of making and maintaining homeschool portfolios for my 5 boys. If I can do it, you most certainly can, too!
Maintaining Homeschool Portfolios Does NOT Have To Be Hard!
Putting together and maintaining a good homeschooling portfolio can be stressful to many homeschoolers- even the experienced ones.
Many homeschoolers struggle to find a system that works for their family while still meeting the homeschooling laws in their state.
A homeschool portfolio is a record that helps you to keep track of your child's learning progress.
When you keep a good record, you can better understand your child's strengths and weak points.
That being said, you don't have to stay up at night stressing about how to make the portfolio perfect. Like with all things in life and homeschooling, balance and moderation is key.
Read on to learn about some smart hacks that you can use to help you keep up with your homeschooling portfolio.
12 Brilliant Homeschool Portfolio Hacks
1. Keep it simple
A homeschooling portfolio does not need to be complicated.
You don't have to spend hundreds of hours trying to create something perfect.
The simpler the record-keeping is, the easier to get organized and maintain. Homeschool evaluators who review these portfolios prefer something simple and straightforward.
In fact, our completely awesome evaluator always reminds me to stick to the basics and only provide minimum proof of progress. Her preference is 3 pieces of work - one from beginning, middle, and end of year.
If you know who your homeschool evaluator will be, I encourage you to ask what they'd like to see.
2. Do not procrastinate
I'll do it tomorrow...I'll fill it in tomorrow...
Then, tomorrow comes and the day after tomorrow seems more ideal. It becomes a cycle. Before you know it, you're stuck with a month's worth of record-keeping to do.
You start feeling overwhelmed. And so stressed that it's hard to get motivated to do any of it.
It will only take a few minutes but it will save you a ton of headaches later.
And you'll be creating a fantastic report because everything is still fresh in your mind.
This hack goes for attendance records, book titles, experiments, and project titles. Simply jot down (or type up) everything completed that day.
I call this retroactive planning. A homeschool friend of mine calls is reverse planning. It's really just a smart form of recordkeeping!
3. Organization is key
Successful homeschool portfolios are easier to put together when you're well organized.
Don't leave yourself (or anyone else) guessing about when something happened, what happened, what should have happened, and why it happened.
The best way to do this is by labeling your work. Labels that you may want to include on your homeschool work include:
- Child's name
- Color (if you color-code your kids' homeschool supplies)
- Time (if relevant to the work)
- Curriculum used (particularly helpful if you need to go back and find information to add)
Buy binders or accordion folders that will make it easier on you, without cluttering your space.
Oh, and if you have space in your homeschool for a dedicated area to store your portfolio materials, go for it!
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4. Use a visual storytelling technique
One of the best homeschool portfolio hacks!
Some of the most interesting (and exciting) portfolios make use of visual items to stand out.
When your kids do craft activities or take digital photos, you can use these as part of the portfolio.
Do you take pictures of your kids' work and post on social media to share with family and friends? Include those pictures, too.
It is also an amazing way to showcase your child's progress to a homeschool evaluator.
If your child does a lot of online learning, you can use a digital portfolio. Take screenshots and store them in a folder on your computer, Dropbox, or Google Drive.
5. Keep a log of extracurricular activities
Don't forget to keep track of all those cool homeschool extracurricular activities that your kids enjoy.
These type of activities provide many wonderful opportunities for your kids to learn and practice skills.
What type of extracurricular activities can be documented? Here are a few ideas:
- When you take a homeschool field trip (in person or virtual)
- Community service
- Attend a language class
- Homeschool co-op
- Sports (can also double as homeschool physical education)
- Music lessons
- Art classes
- Library event
6. Learn from the experts
If you're new to homeschooling (welcome!), the best way to learn how to make a great portfolio would be to talk to experienced homeschoolers.
You may find them in your community or on online platforms, like Facebook or forums.
The homeschooling community is very supportive. You'll learn a ton about homeschooling in general. Plus, you'll discover other smart homeschool portfolio hacks to make the process easier on you.
7. Stay true to the goal
What are your homeschool goals and intentions? What do you want to accomplish by the end of the year?
When you have a goal in mind, you'll know what to look for and what to include in your portfolio.
You do NOT need to document everything that your kids do.
For instance, if you're creating a portfolio for high school, you can include the tests, the grades, the lab reports, the lesson plans, the honors projects, the course descriptions, hours on extracurricular activities, and attendance records.
Kindergarten will look a lot different. You may show a few samples of handwriting, math, and a reading log.
The most important thing to remember is to include samples for each homeschool subject required in your state. That does not, however, mean that you have to spend an entire school year on the subject.
For example, our state (for homeschooling in Pennsylvania) requires fire safety to be covered every year. In the past, we've read a few books, work out a fire safety plane, and watch a video. This year, my boys and I will be doing a fire safety unit study that will take a week at the most.
8. Follow the curriculum guidelines
If you use homeschool curriculum, you may find that it has recommendations for recordkeeping. This option is fantastic for new homeschoolers or if you feel stuck or stressed about homeschool portfolios.
9. Have different files for different things
Out of the homeschool portfolio hacks that can save you time, this one is the best. Try not mix up the records for your kids and each of their subjects.
It makes it that much harder to sort it all out when you're looking for a specific document for a certain subject. #askmehowiknow
I've found the best system for our homeschool is to have a binder for each student. Each binder has tabbed dividers with pockets. Labels make it easy to differentiate sections. And pockets make it easy to store papers until they can be three-hole punched and organized.
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10. Know the homeschool laws of your state
Homeschool laws vary by state. It's important to know and follow the requirements. (HSLDA shares this information for free here).
Some states are stricter when it comes to homeschooling (New York and Pennsylvania are two that come to mind) than others.
Also, you may find that you can issue a homeschool high school diploma if you complete the required steps. We just graduated our oldest boy with one!
11. Let the kids help you
One of my favorite homeschool portfolio hacks!
Get your kids involved in the process. No need for you to do all the work. Save yourself some time and stress as you teach your kids valuable skills like:
- Alphabetizing (if that's your type of thing)
- Completing a checklist
12. Get the right tools
You'll have a lot of materials to organize (unless you go with a totally digital portfolio!).
Consider what type of homeschool work you'll be keeping , where you can store it, and how long you'll need it.
You can get creative here so I encourage you to think outside the box. A few cool ideas that I've seen for storing homeschool portfolio items include:
- Three-ring binder
- Accordion file
- Plastic bins (helpful if you do a lot of projects)
- Upcycled cardboard boxes (decorate a box with wrapping paper, cardstock, stickers, etc.)
- Rolling carts
- Scrapbook cases
- Stackable bins
The bottom line is to ensure that everything is properly labeled and stored.
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Homeschool Portfolio Hacks Can Save Your Sanity!
I truly hope that these tips and tricks make your homeschool portfolio process easier and more enjoyable.
Do you have any questions about homeschool portfolios? Or any cool ideas to share?
Please let me know in the comments area below 🙂