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How to Create a Homeschool Portfolio

by Jessica Parnell | Apr 16, 2018 | 3 min read

The end of the year is fast approaching (hurray for summer!) and the weather is starting to get warmer (we hope). Spring always reminds me of another season: evaluation time for homeschooling families. While state laws vary, many states and districts require homeschooling families to put together a homeschool portfolio. This may seem daunting, even for seasoned homeschool families. But if you follow a few basic rules and use the FREE resources we outline in this article, your portfolio will be ready in no time. You’ve accomplished a lot this school year. Here’s how you can create the perfect homeschool portfolio to showcase your hard work and homeschool excellence!

What is a homeschool portfolio?

A homeschool portfolio is a record of all your students’ accomplishments, including classes and electives. When your students have demonstrated mastery of certain subjects, a homeschool portfolio showcases what they have learned to an evaluator or school district. Essentially, a homeschool portfolio ensures that your students receive credit for their hard work. Keep in mind that not all states (or accredited homeschool partners) require that you put together a homeschool portfolio. Bridgeway Academy has compiled a list of state laws that will prove useful as you decide whether or not to put a homeschool portfolio together.
If your state or accredited homeschool partner doesn’t require a homeschool portfolio, many families choose to put one together anyway as a “scrapbook” or “memory book.” Looking at your students’ past accomplishments makes for a great yearbook!

Creating a Homeschool Portfolio 101.

Set the bar. Creating a thorough portfolio requires work. It must show student mastery. Include assignments, essays, projects, and lesson plans. Your evaluator will be looking for these items. The goal is to show progress and prove that your students are ready to move up to the next grade level. Set the bar for a homeschool portfolio, not the evaluator!

Progress, not perfection. You don’t have to show that your student is perfect. Highlight your student’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas of growth. Add in rough drafts and final essays, and lower test and quiz scores. The point of a portfolio is to showcase your students’ growth and determination! Your evaluator is looking for progress, not perfection!

Organize! When it comes to a homeschool portfolio, binders are your friend. Your best friend, actually. Add some page protectors, a three-ring hole punch, and you’re set! We recommend a large 3-inch binder for younger students and one 1-inch binder for each subject for high schoolers. You can find them at your local office supply store or Amazon. Make a table of contents so you know exactly where every assignment, test, and essay is. A common pattern is the grade report first, core subjects second, and electives third. The evaluator will want to see the core subjects the most, so keep that section more upfront. An organized homeschool portfolio is a win!

Keep it up. Starting early is best. But there’s still plenty of time to pull together a great portfolio that will wow your evaluator or school district. Set aside time to work on grading and other tasks during the week or even daily. This way, you can set aside work that you think shows your students’ progress. Bridgeway Academy has a simple how-to guide on grading that will ease the stress of putting together the portfolio. You can also make it fun: Involve your students by having them select the projects, writing samples, and tests they want to include. They’ll gain self-awareness and confidence about how they are doing, and you won’t be doing all the work!

Not a “greatest hits” album.

You don’t have to make creating a portfolio complicated. These simple Homeschool Portfolio 101 tips will put you well on your way to creating the perfect homeschool portfolio! Our final thought: Keep in mind that you’re putting together not just a “greatest hits,” but every aspect of your students’ school year. Show your evaluator that it’s all about progress, not perfection, and just how far your learner has come!
What do you put in your homeschool portfolio? Tell us in the comments!

Jessica Parnell
Hello everyone! I’m Jessica Parnell — mom, homeschool evaluator, teacher, and CEO of Bridgeway Academy. In my 20+ years of experience as a homeschool mom and evaluator, I have had the privilege of meeting homeschoolers that take a variety of approaches to their education. It is their many stories and successes that inspire me in my own homeschooling and I love to pass on the knowledge that I have gained from them to other homeschooling families. The one constant that always remains true is that there’s no such thing as a “cookie cutter child.” Each child is fearfully and wonderfully made and as a result, learns and functions differently. It’s our job to ensure that we’re raising each child to fulfill their individual purpose and when we can teach in a way that inspires them, we are on our way to homeschool success. When I’m not writing or teaching my children, I like to ski, write and participate in triathlons. I graduated from Kutztown University with a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Masters in English and I am currently pursuing a degree in Neuroleadership.
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