Welcome to the last part of this series on homeschool portfolios. I hope you have found the information in this series to be useful so far. In previous posts I talked about the basics of portfolios, how you can assemble a portfolio and what items can be included in a homeschool portfolio. Today we tackle the topic of how to organize all of the “stuff” that our children complete on a daily basis, and it’s not as hard as you may think!
When I first found out that the state we live in allows portfolios as an option for assessment, I was very happy! Due to my background in education, I am quite familiar with putting together portfolios and I knew that was the option I would take for my daughter. And she was even happier than I was because the other annual assessment option was taking a standardized test, and she hates tests; so it was a win-win!
I quickly realized however, that in order to make assembling the portfolio easier on myself, I would have to have some type of organizational system in place. I read about different ways to organize all of the daily work, projects, papers, etc that go along with homeschool and landed on one that has worked great for us.
Now that I have it all set up, it takes no time at all at the end of each day to file it away. When the end of the year comes around all I have to do is remove the papers from each file folder, hole-punch them (or place them in sheet protectors) and put it all into their appropriate spots within the final homeschool portfolio. That’s it; pretty quick and easy once the initial set up is done!
So here is what I do, step-by-step, to organize all of the homeschool work that is completed each day:
Step 1: Gather your materials
This is a pretty cheap and easy step! All you need is:
- Some type of file tote, box, milk crate, etc that can hold hanging file folders
- Hanging file folders (I use 5)
- Tabbed file folders (I use a combination of colored and regular file folders)
Step 2: Label your file folders
For the hanging file folders: I label them with my daughters name and the subject of what will be in that file. I have 5 hanging file folders and they are labeled with Language arts, Math, Science, History & Geography and the last one I have labeled as “Extra” in case there are papers I want to save that don’t fit in with another subject. I wrote my daughters name on each one so that when it’s time to start saving items for my son’s homeschool portfolio, that step will already be taken care of and I can easily keep their work separated.
For the tabbed file folders: I use 5 regular plain tabbed file folders and write “Portfolio Work” on each one, which I place into each of the 5 hanging files. Then I use 4 colored tabbed file folders for the language arts section and label them, spelling, phonics, handwriting, and sight words & miscellaneous items (optional, but it makes it easier for me to quickly put things away!). At this age these sections work well for my daughter, and as she goes up in grades the labels will change as needed. But, for now, having the language arts section broken down like this helps me to quickly place her daily work into the right section, making it easier at the end of the year to find what I want to include in the final portfolio.
Step 3: Assemble the file box/tote
Now that you have your file box, tote, milk crate or whatever item you’re using to hold everything, and your file folders are all labeled, you are ready to start assembling! All this step involves, is placing your labeled hanging file folders into your file box/tote and putting a regular tabbed file folder (the ones pre-labeled “portfolio work” from the above step) into each one. Then, if you are using colored tabbed files to make specific sections within a subject (like I do in my daughters language arts folder, as mentioned above) you can also place these in front of the “portfolio work” folders within the appropriate hanging file folder.
Step 4: File daily school work
I have found that the easiest way to stay organized and on top of the daily school work that gets completed, is to file away each days work at the end of the school day. I only spend about a minute or so doing this because all of my hanging file folders and tabbed folders are already labeled and in my file tote. All I have to do is put each item into the correct folder (for me it’s based on subjects).
And to make it even easier on myself at the end of the year, as I am filing the daily papers, I look for pieces of my daughter’s work (tests, quizzes, writing samples, spelling tests, photos, projects, worksheets, etc) that I think I will be including in the year end portfolio. I can then place them into the folder marked “portfolio work” in whatever subject it happens to be in. Then at the end of the year I can simply take out the papers in each “portfolio work” file folder and transfer it into the final homeschool portfolio.
Some of the things that I place into each subjects “portfolio work” folders throughout the year do not end up in the final homeschool portfolio, but that’s ok. I know that the work in those folders will show a good overview of the school year, even if I don’t use them all. I also found that for some subjects I didn’t have as much set aside, but I could go through all of the other work that I had filed away and pull papers from there.
And until the portfolio was finished and approved, I kept all of the papers from the whole year, just in case I needed to show more of what we had done all year (which I didn’t need to do!). This is what I did last year and it was such a time saver since I had already been saving my daughter’s work and filing it away by subject each day!
Step 5: Enjoy using your new homeschool daily paperwork organizational system!
Congratulations on getting your new system all set up! You’ll be surprised at how little time you will spend at the end of each homeschool day organizing and filing away your child’s daily work. And then at the end of the year, when it’s time to put together their homeschool portfolio, everything you need is all together in one place and ready to go.
Organizing all of your child’s completed daily work can seem like an overwhelming task, but I have found that using this filing system can make it so much more manageable. Not only is it useful for tackling the everyday paperwork, but it was so helpful in putting together my daughter’s final homeschool portfolio this year. It was truly a sanity saver for me!
I hope you find this system to be as helpful for you as it is for me! Do you have any other tips on how to organize your child’s daily work and make assembling their portfolio easier?