A portfolio captures progress, serves as an assessment and works as a record-keeping system for home-schooled children. Portfolios work as an alternative to traditional testing. Kids can also take an active role in documenting their home-school experience. A simple binder and divider system works for most portfolio requirements.
A large, three-ring binder works well for a home-schooling portfolio, as it allows you to change the order of contents and to remove or add items throughout the school year. Use divider pages with tabs so you can organize the contents by subject or document type. You might have a section for tests, one for worksheets and another for hands-on experiments, for example. Add a title page that includes the child's name and school year. A table of contents might simplify finding items in the portfolio.
What to Include
Each state sets home-schooling requirements, so you might want to add a portfolio component for accountability. If your state requires a portfolio, examine the specific guidelines to make sure your portfolio includes all of the necessary components. You may need to include examples of specific types of activities, a list of materials used, results from standardized tests or evaluations from a certified teacher.
The documents that show actual student learning make up the bulk of the home-school portfolio. This might include worksheets, assignments and artwork. Other learning samples aren't as easy to slide into a portfolio. Science experiments or hands-on projects, for example, don't fit neatly into a binder. Instead, take photos as your child completes the tasks. Include a copy of the experiment steps or the notes your child wrote as she completed the experiment.
You don't need to limit portfolio selections to work your child completed without making mistakes. You can often show progress by including difficult assignments that challenged your learner. Choose samples that show where your child started at the beginning of the year and how he progressed. Let your child help choose the documents that go into the portfolio. Use large sticky labels as captions to explain the work. Your child might write an explanation of the assignment in his own words and share what he learned, for example. This helps him reflect on the work instead of just completing and forgetting it.
Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.