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Keeping records of what your children learn is required in many states. Some states are more strict on how detailed your records have to be. Here are ideas on how to keep things straight, regardless of how detailed (or not) that you need to be.
Types of Portfolios
Keeping a Teacher’s Plan book
This may seem obvious, but many homeschool parents use these for their own children. They already have the weeks laid out. You can either plan ahead or write things down as you go. If you do the same subjects every day, this may be a great way for you to keep things straight. If you have multiple children that you are homeschooling, you may need more than one book. I am currently using this method for my oldest, who is on a middle school level for most of our subjects right now. I write out the plan in red using these pens (my absolute favorite for everything, including record keeping and grading or checking), and then erase and write it in black once it has actually been completed. This way, I can visually see that we are making progress each day. The downfall that I have found with this method is that this particular book only has a five day week and we tend to use every day as a school day. For those other days, we use an attendance chart and I just put a check mark below the subject we worked on that day. And yes, we count reading as a school activity.
Keeping a Weekly Planner/Organizer
This is the same type of thing as the teacher plan book mentioned above. The only difference is that this has a seven day week instead of only five. I used to use this, but found that I was spending too much time writing everything out. These can also be expensive and the days may not have the space you need.
Attendance Chart with File Folders
This is a way to keep worksheets, workbooks, activities, and pictures all filed in order. At the front of the files, keep a simple attendance chart (like this one) and make a separate file for each subject. Make sure you put a date on each paper or picture and file them in order, always putting the newest in the back. Done! If you unschool but still need to show proof of school, pictures of your child doing an activity are a perfect way to track progress!
A Private Facebook or Instagram profile
If you would rather have everything digital, this is an excellent way to keep pictures for your end of the year assessment or proof. Many parents add the person doing the assessment to the group to see everything, and then remove them once it is complete. You can keep the pictures all on the main feed or even add an album for each subject!
A Student Planner
Teaching a child how to keep a planner is a vital life skill. It teaches them how to keep track of their own progress, as well as plan ahead. Have your child sit down with you on a Sunday afternoon. Talk to them about what their expectations are and help them write it down in their planner for the week. Have them track each day on their own and see if they have followed their plan. Do they need to add more? Take some things away? Help them to learn to not burn themselves out and find a balance that works for them and the rest of the family.
Use an App
There are numerous apps out there to help with creating a portfolio. Our family is considering using an app just to keep everything together so we have less paperwork to keep track of. Here are a few of our favorites.
What to include in your portfolios
Now that you know what type of planner will help you keep track of your student’s work, you must be wondering what you have to include. Do you have to keep everything? What is considered important?
First, divide your portfolio into the basic subjects. Then add in samples of the work that your children did throughout the year. For example:
- Tests and quizzes
- Printout from an online program
- Practice sheets
English and/or Language Arts
- Book reports
- Book lists
- Grammar worksheets
- Written papers (include all notes, drafts, and final papers)
- Spelling work
- Written timeline
- Quizzes, tests, or written questions
- History reports
- Pictures of projects with a description of what was learned
- Maps with notes about each country or state
- Science reports
- Experiment papers with pictures
- Nature journals
- Book lists
- Quizzes or tests
- Video of student doing an experiment and explaining it as they go
- Tickets to concerts
- Composer Studies (like ours!)
- Musical reports of the different types of music in the world
- Tickets to museums and galleries
- Samples of any art your child created
- Pictures of children working on art projects with descriptions
- Artist Study (like ours!)
- Art projects
- Pictures of your child playing an organized sport
- Sport certificates
- A health log of exercises done
- Pictures of outside play
- Menu plan written by your child
- Nutrition study (like ours!)
- Certificate of completion of an online class (we provide this as well)
- Recipes written by your child
- Health journal or log
- Pictures of your child baking or cooking
- A journal showing the study
- A log of videos and audio books
- A workbook
- A recording or video of your child practicing another language
- A certificate of completion of an online class (we provide this for our ASL class)
- A worksheet or certificate provided by your local librarian
- A unit study about libraries
- A worksheet or report completed on the Dewey Decimal System
- A list of books wanted, along with how to find them in the library
- Project samples
- Pictures of completed projects with a description
- A log of what was learned
- Videos of your children performing or creating
Remember that you don’t need to include everything. You have to show progress. Take your students’ worst work from the beginning of the year, add in some of their samples that show progress, and then finish with their best work. Show that your child learned something, even if it was small. Everything in life is a learning opportunity. Don’t miss the small moments.