Creating a Homeschool Portfolio

Sometime during the fall, I mentioned the importance of building a portfolio over the course of an entire school year, rather than waiting until the end.  Now that the end of the year has arrived, our family is putting the finishing touches on our children's portfolios. 

The purpose of a portfolio is to show a student's progress throughout the school year.
It is not to showcase perfection.
Instead, it should be an honest representation of the student's work.
It does not have to be all inclusive. 

How to Create a Homeschool Portfolio

Our portfolios are set up the same each year.  For each child, I begin with a three ring binder which has pockets on the inside covers.  We like to decorate our binders with patterned paper and colorful labels.  Other families may prefer to use a blank binder or allow the child to decorate the outside with his artwork.

Inside the binder, I create three basic divisions: administrative paper work, academic samples, and extra curricula activities.  Typically, I separate these sections with dividers. 

Administrative paper work includes the following:

  • Title Page - This one page document displays the student's name, grade level, school year, and school name and address. 
  • Student Page - The first page after our Title Page always has a photograph of the child taken sometime during the school year.  It is a must in all of our portfolios.
  • Year End Report - Summarizing and evaluating the curriculum and the child's academic abilities, this report helps explain what the child did during the school year.
  • Reading Log - This is a concise listing of all books read by the child or read aloud to the child throughout the entire school year.  I have included the forms we use every year on our printables page.
  • Attendance Sheet - A single page with a grid of days denoting when the child completed school days.  Our state requires 180 days of school each year.
  • Lesson Plans - Detailing each day and subject, these pages outline what was done when.

Academic Samples are taken from the entire year. 

For every subject I have mentioned in the Year End Report, I include a portion of the student's work.  The idea is to show progress, not perfection.  A child is still learning and will make mistakes.  I try to pick samples that are truly representative of their abilities and demonstrate the progress they have made. 

Any special projects that are too large to fit in a three ring binder are photographed and the picture is included with a brief description of the three dimensional or oversized project. 

This past year when my son completed his science fair project, we dismantled his tri-fold board and remounted the pieces to card stock.  This enabled the pieces to be included in his portfolio.

Notebooks or workbooks that we would rather not tear apart are included in the pockets of the binder.  Some smaller notebooks even fit into a protective sleeve or if the notebook already has holes, it can sometimes be placed right in the binder. 

Extra Curricula activities are, of course, all the extras.

The final section is a catch all for all the great field trips, activities, additional programs, and sports our children participated in during the school year.  Some years, I even include pictures of holidays, birthdays, and special events.

* Photographs in this post show samples from each of our children's portfolios.
* Later this week, I hope to outline how I write Year End Reports.


  1. Dorie - this is perfect!! Thanks so much :)

  2. Beautiful and impressive, Dorie. My state doesn't require portfolios but I love this so much I may adapt my record keeping to this method.

  3. Yes, this was VERY helpful!!! :))

  4. Stumbled on this. Very cool. This gives me some great ideas to not only help me do the school as a working dad, but also keep a journal for family and friends... and (yites) future school officials. (you never know when things will change).

  5. We have been putting portfolios together for a few years now. My kids enjoy looking through them and reliving moments past. One additional thing I do is selecting the best portfolio pages, projects, photos and putting them into shutterfly book. My kids enjoy having a book "published" and it's a great year-review guide.


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