Tag Archives: homeschool portfolio

Portfolios Then and Now

Third grade vs. Eighth grade. Obviously, the thick third grade portfolio wins, right?

One of the things I find myself thinking about a good bit in the last couple of years is how homeschooling changes over time. It ebbs and flows. It has high and low points, as well as more and less intensive times.

A few weeks ago, we did our first updates for the 8th grade portfolios. If you read this blog often, you’ll know that we use portfolio assessment and update each year’s portfolio periodically with the most recent work samples and lists of things like books and field trips.

After we finished the updates I had a moment of panic. You see, it was really, really thin. I’m used to portfolios being these things that just burst open with work. You can see the comparison of Mushroom’s third grade portfolio with his portfolio this year. The third grade one was breaking open with projects and drawings that barely fit. The eighth grade one… not so much.

Third grade work and eighth grade work in Mushroom’s portfolios.

The thing is, it represents so much time and effort. There’s less of the fun little projects, coloring pages, random artworks, and participation certifications. But each plastic sleeve holds a multi-page, revised essay or an algebra exam or a page of samples of Mushroom’s digital artwork projects in Photoshop.

As I looked through this year’s samples, it’s less quantity, but more quality that reflects solid work for their age.

I think it’s important to always remind myself to stay focused on the work that matters, which is mostly process oriented and invisible for things like portfolios. The products change as they get older and that’s appropriate and good. There’s no need to look for those piles of fun worksheet puzzles and quick art projects. It’s good to move on.


I wrote this post ages ago and then didn’t get around to posting it…  or anything else.  So add blogging to my shortfalls lately.  I have just been overwhelmed with work!  Life is full but maybe too full.  Perhaps I’ll hash it all out for myself in a post on finding balance.  In the meantime though…

We got slightly behind on our portfolios, but as it was overdue, I thought I’d do something different and give myself an assessment as well.  For the kids’ portfolios, I fill out a quick sheet that has three categories:

Things to be proud of
Things to work on
Other things to say

If you’re curious, I have a detailed post about how we do portfolios here. Here for you is my own assessment of how I’m doing as a homeschooler, using the same format, though I’ve been a bit more wordy with myself than I am with the kids.

Things to be proud of
I got things off to a good start for third grade.  The organization system I put in with the new white boards has been working pretty well, especially after a minor update of the topics.  We’ve been consistently working, using our mornings and usually getting a lot done.  I have been especially good about making sure we do our Monday copywork or dictations and have been picking and discussing passages I feel pretty good about from the books we’re reading.  I have been doing a good job teaching math and have done some really good projects for math.  We’ve also had very good read alouds across the board for every subject.  I’ve done a number of fun, creative things for logic and thinking skills, such as the One Hour Mysteries and the Bananagrams puzzles.

I’ve done a good job helping BalletBoy during our one on one school time and that has been very productive.  When I realized that Mushroom’s spelling simply wasn’t improving, we talked about it and I changed course to do something outside my comfort zone by getting him All About Spelling. Overall, we’re plugging away at the year and doing well.

Things to work on
While I’ve kept up our monthly required reading books, I haven’t been as great about our other two monthly requirements: the writing project and the art project.  We have done some fun art, including a day outside doing great nature sketching, but we haven’t been as consistent as I wanted.  I need to make this a bigger priority and include it more often as something to break up more serious lessons.  I know the kids would appreciate that.  Writing projects are harder to work in, but I need to plan them ahead of time instead of waiting for inspiration to make them grow out of what we’re doing.  Sometimes that works, but it’s easier to have a plan and change gears than to suddenly find myself at the end of the month without having initiated a writing project.

In general, I’ve lost a bit of my creative juices for history.  We’ve been progressing, but too slowly and part of that is that I’m not doing as many fun projects for us.  We did do some fun art for our Australia unit, but in general, I need to be on top of history a little more because otherwise we won’t get up to World War I by the summer, which has been my goal.

While I’ve found really good quality one on one time with BalletBoy, the one on one time with Mushroom has been much more lacking.  Part of this isn’t my fault as the timing is weird, but I need to make more of an effort.  I also need to make more of an effort to keep him reading consistently.

Other things to say
Drama and acting has been handed off to others this term and I’ve really appreciated that.  Music has finally started and I am glad that the kids don’t mind practicing piano.  Science has just returned to us after being mostly handled by friends and the Botanic Gardens class.  We have been overcommitted this fall and I am glad to be dialing back a little bit.  It was a beautiful fall and we were outside a lot, which was positive.  Co-op is going extremely well and I am very happy with our group this year.