Homeschool Portfolios

It’s getting close to that time of year again – assessment time! In Ohio, we have the option of standardized tests or having a portfolio review of our children’s work by a certified teacher.  I prefer portfolio reviews.  Putting together academic portfolios of my children’s schoolwork allows for:
  • Reviewing and relishing all that we have learned during the academic year
  • Recognizing any academic areas in which we should be doing more work
  • Creating a fabulous record and keepsake of the school year for each child

Putting together the academic portfolios actually begins at the very start of the school year. There are several tasks that I do throughout the year that really help with keeping school papers organized for the portfolios.

  • I keep a running list on our computer of books, field trips, and educational videos that we have read, attended, and watched during the school year.
  • Each of my children also has a reading record on which we keep track of all of the books each of them has read both independently and for school.
  • I also take pictures of all art projects completed for school projects. After loading them onto my computer, I load them to Shutterfly in a special album named “Art Projects, School Year 20– to 20–).” Then when I’m ready to put together the portfolios, I can have the pictures printed all at once.

In addition to those records, I have a specific area where I put all of the “portfolio-worthy” papers during the course of the year. Here are some examples of items that I put in the “portfolio-worthy” pile:

  • math tests
  • brochures, maps, and ticket stubs from educational field trips
  • certificates of completion for swimming lessons/results from swim meets
  • copies of any awards that have been granted
  • copies of completed essays/writing projects
  • completed handwriting booklets
  • tables of contents from curriculum texts
  • tests from English

About a month before my scheduled portfolio review, I start working on the portfolios so that I can compile them without feeling stressed and rushed. I work on each portfolio one section at a time. Each child’s portfolio is compiled into a 1″ three ring binder. I use the binders that allow you to slide a piece of paper in the clear front pocket to make a cover for the binder.001

I make the portfolio covers on PrintMaster with cute school-themed borders. On the front is written:

  • Academic Portfolio
  • Child’s Name
  • Child’s Grade Level
  • Academic Years for the Portfolio

I divide the portfolio into the following sections:

  • Mathematics
  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • History and Geography
  • Physical Education
  • Fine Arts

I also made a little photo album of each child’s art projects from the year and tucked that into the front inner pocket of the portfolio binder.


If you would like to read a complete list of  what I included in each section of my 6th grade daughter’s academic portfolio last year, you can find that information here.

Putting together the children’s portfolios is a lot of work but the results are definitely more than worth the effort!

Samantha writes about homeschooling and family life at tobebusyathome.

This post is linked to Thirsty Thursday.

Angie Kauffman
Angie, a domestically challenged nerd and mom of three very fun kids, is the founder of Real Life at Home.  Angie also listens to music every chance she gets, writes eBookspodcastsloves Pinterestdocuments the little moments in life on Instagram, and occasionally sleeps.


  1. says

    This is great information, Samantha! Thanks for sharing. I love the photo book idea. I will definitely be using that idea from now on. I appreciate the link to more detailed info as well; you have great ideas.
    .-= Tanya´s last blog ..Family Games =-.

  2. Riceball Mommy says

    This is great, I might have to bookmark this for future reference. I might end up having to do reviews eventually and putting things together like this would make things easier. Also now I’m not sure if I like the scrapbook/yearbook idea I had or this more.
    .-= Riceball Mommy´s last blog ..Homeschool Hop #4 =-.

  3. Tristan says

    We love using the portfolio review option here in Ohio too! We include lapbooks, notebooks, artwork, and the usual math pages and spelling tests.
    .-= Tristan´s last blog ..Book Club Possibilities =-.

  4. says

    Thanks for sharing your great portfolios. In SD, we don’t have the option of portfolios vs. testing, but I wish we did after seeing yours. I do keep somewhat of an archive, but yours looks super organized!! You’ve inspired me to make an awesome portfolio, even though I’m not required to….thanks!!
    .-= Alicia´s last blog ..Ancient Egypt Unit =-.

  5. says

    I’m glad we don’t have to do testing or present a portfolio for teacher review. I love how well you have your portfolio planned out and organized, but I just wouldn’t feel comfortable having a teacher look over our homeschool stuff. In my experience, teachers are the worst when it comes to discussing homeschooling. They think they know better. Hopefully in your state, that’s not the case!
    .-= Jenny´s last blog ..Links I Like: 8th Edition =-.

    • Andrea says

      I am a retired teacher and I totally disagree with your comment. I have four degrees but I do not seek to critique or degrade homeschool. Do I have a stronger knowledge base where education is concerned? Perhaps, but I use it the same as you do…to enrich the lives of my children. We are all in this together!

  6. says

    Thank you for your comment! I had a WONDERFUL lady who was a permanently certified teacher and was quite active in the homeschool community who did our reviews ever since I started homeschooling. She was my homeschool mentor and I treasured our time together. Sadly, she passed away several months ago. I will be meeting with a new teacher who has come recommended from other homeschoolers. Hopefully, it will be a good experience!
    .-= Samantha´s last blog ..Spring Cleaning Bible Truths Giveaway Contest Winner! =-.

  7. monica says

    hi i am new to homeschooling and i am having trouble understandng how to keep a portfolio …could someone please in florida…..

  8. monica says

    i have a child who is 6 and in kindergarden and could use some help or advive how to begin a portfolio ffor him……any advice please……or ssamples what it looks like and steps i can follow..please help….

    • says

      Hi Monica-
      I know I wanted some kind of standard as well. First! Check your state standards. If nothing is listed about what is to be included in your portfolio. Use the following:
      Each subject should be included at least 5 samples of each.
      Beginning of the year
      Mid year samples
      and end year samples
      and special art projects , field trips should be included.
      I did a narration of each subject and I also used the binder method. I also did a little shutterfly album of things I had no paper for…
      You can check out the post here
      I also really like the way Little Men in my Library did her son’s. She has really great samples and pictures. Hope this helps!!

  9. Andrea says

    I too, make my portfolios out of three-rings binders. I am a retired teacher and I like organization. Another tip is to use top-loading, clear sheet protectors that allow you to simply slide the student work in. These will help preserve the work indefinitely. I punch holes in file folders and write the section names on the tabs to serve as dividers. I keep these portfolios for years in a climate-controlled storage unit. I love to show off their homeschool binders.

    • Andrea says

      I use a larger binder so that I can copies of all tests/quizzes. I select art and other materials based on the worthiness of it. I also include copies of their standardized test scores. I do this willing each year to access my teaching skills. My children have performed at advanced levels. I test their reading rate and include this information in a front section titled “Reading Stats”. Lastly, I make sure a writing sample is included at the start and end of the year.