Maintaining a Homeschool Portfolio
Some states require that the homeschool portfolio be available for inspection monthly or quarterly; others may request to see the portfolio annually or upon request, usually with a thirty-day advance notice. Even if your state does not require you to keep a portfolio of your child's work, it's often an important part of the annual evaluation process. Plus, it just makes good sense to have documentation of what your child is doing and achieving month by month, regardless of how formal or informal your homeschool is.
Your child's portfolio can be helpful when it's time to apply to college. You may not need to keep every worksheet, assignment, drawing, or project for the portfolio, but maintain a good variety for each subject area. A well-rounded portfolio helps college officials gain a clearer picture of your child's homeschool years.
The portfolio can include the lesson plan book or weekly learning log, books used and read, attendance records, daily worksheets, creative writing assignments, book reports, and written evaluations or test results. You can also include examples of typical days, artwork, scrapbooks of hobby projects, inventions or projects built, and descriptions or photos of projects, experiments, special activities, or field trips. Another good way to document your child's abilities is to videotape or record speeches, performances, concerts, sport competitions, trips, and other events.
Reviewing the Portfolio
Check with your local homeschool officials in advance and see how much they expect you to bring when it's time to present your child's portfolio. Other items you may want to keep with the portfolio are copies of your child's immunization records, verification of your child's home-school registration with your school district, or paperwork certifying that your child is enrolled with a private school or distance-learning program.
Keeping Attendance Records
Many states require you to keep attendance records. This may seem somewhat silly, considering the fact that your child is obviously in attendance in the home each day. But many states require that the child is homeschooled a specific number of days or hours each year, and they want to see proof of it. Check with your local homeschool division or your state department of education to determine their exact requirements for homeschool attendance keeping.
Some homeschool officials consider the weekly learning log, which documents the activities and studies conducted each day, as an adequate attendance record. It shows the weekly dates, the number of days your child was involved in educational activities, and the hours your child was engaged in educational activities each day. Or, you may be able to keep a simple calendar with your weekly learning log, and jot down the number of hours spent on home education each day.
Forms such as attendance records, learning log pages, lesson plan sheets, grade records, evaluation forms, and high school transcripts are available on the Internet or in many homeschooling books. These are usually available for downloading, printing, or photocopying.
Other officials may prefer to see a traditional style of attendance record, documenting your child's name, grade level, the year, and the week, with each day of the week listed at the top of the page. Under each day of the week, from October 20 to October 24, for example, you would mark the number of hours spent on educational activities that day. If the time spent studying core subjects was three hours, and the time your child spent reading or pursuing other educational activities that day was three hours, you would record six hours for the day.