When it comes to busy months, I think of September, December and May. In September, everything is starting up for the new year–school, Boy Scouts, Awana, every activity that runs with the school year. December is the scurry and flurry leading up to Christmas. May is the rush to finish everything you had planned to get finished in the school year.
In addition to finishing (or figuring out when the kids will finish) all those different school subjects for the year, May is when I try to finish my annual portfolio for each child.
A portfolio is a record of the work covered throughout the school year, including samples of the child’s work. In my state, portfolios are required of homeschoolers, and the portfolios must be reviewed by an outside party one to three times per year. So creating portfolios was a necessity for me, but it can be a nice thing to do with your students’ work, even if your state doesn’t require it.
My annual portfolio work ideally begins in September, at the beginning of the school year. I like to start a word document for each child, for each school year. Every month, I like to indicate what was covered with the child in each subject. At the end of the year, there is a nice summary of what was done that year.
I also keep a brown accordion file for each child. I label sections of the accordion file with the subjects (Math, English, etc.), and each month I put some work samples into each section. Make sure the child’s name and the date are on the sample. If I have kept a daily lesson planner, I put that in as well.
I also like to try to remember to take photographs throughout the year. For portfolios that get reviewed, it is nice for the reviewer to be able to see examples (photos) of the child working or on field trips.
At the end of the year, I bundle up the portfolio and store it. I save elementary portfolios until high school starts. Sometimes the student does some high school work in those middle school years, so I make sure not to discard those middle school portfolios until after the child has completed a couple of years of college. The high school portfolios should be held onto until the student has at least 30 college credits.
It is fun, later, to pull out the portfolio and look through it one last time before discarding the no-longer-needed contents.
Diana Malament homeschooled three children over a span of 27 years. She homeschooled with financial limitations, and when times were less difficult. She has homeschooled through many good times and many challenging times. Diana hopes to encourage you on your homeschool journey.