Every year at the end of April, I start to feel anxious that we haven’t done enough in our homeschooling this year. I think back to what I’d planned last summer and fall, and somehow what we’ve done just doesn’t feel like it measures up.
Come the end of May, when we begin pulling all of the work together and typing up a summary of the year, my outlook improves!
True, we may not have completed everything that we had planned, but that’s because other really amazing learning opportunities happened along the way.
Here’s how we wrap up our year in three simple steps:
Step One: The Homeschooling Portfolio
- Gather all work completed this year, including main lesson books, paintings, writing etc.
- Gather all tickets, programs, photos or other evidence of outings we took.
- Take photos of bigger projects created, like artwork, models, dioramas. (We try to do this as we go along, but that doesn’t always happen!)
Just the act of covering the dining room table with a year’s worth of work brings me a sense of relief and delight. “Wow, we really did do some neat things this year!”
If you have more than one child, I suggest doing this one at a time.
Decide how you will house and store all of this work! We have loved using these portfolio boxes from Paper Scissors Stone. (Scroll to bottom of page.)
Just a note here about regulations: since every state’s and country’s homeschooling regulations vary, this process will be influenced, of course, by those regs. Here in Ohio, we notify at the beginning of the year of our intent to homeschool and then submit some form of evaluation at the end of the year. One of the options for evaluation is collecting a portfolio of the child’s work and meeting with a certified teacher to show the portfolio. If you aren’t familiar with your state’s regulations, now is the time to educate yourself.
Step Two: The Summary
Years ago, I read an article suggesting that parents write up a summary of each child’s year. The teacher in me jumped at this idea and I’ve written one every year for each of my children since 1996! I find it comforting for my adult brain to translate our Waldorf-inspired learning into education-speak. Every time I do this (and I’ve written 28 of these summaries so far!), I experience a sense of accomplishment. I chose to format these by school subject because these are the subjects that our state requires us to cover in our homeschooling. I really enjoy the translating of the Waldorf approach into more mainstream categories, and I also love including our outings in the subject descriptions as well. The whole process is such a confirmation that we are learning all the time and that what “counts” as learning is so gloriously large!
Step Three: The Review
This is such an important step – don’t skip it! After collecting and gathering all of the evidence of learning, set aside some time for your children to review their work.
Invite your children to:
- Help put together the miscellaneous photos, programs, writing etc. into a folder or book, in whatever way makes the most sense. This can be as simple or elaborate (think scrapbook) as you and your child see fit.
- Read aloud each of their main lesson books and any other writing they have completed.
- Share their work with Dad and/or Grandma and Grandpa, an aunt or a close neighbor.
- Set up an appointment with your evaluator for a portfolio review if that applies in your state or country. The portfolio review experience with a certified teacher is always a wonderful culminating experience for my children – a time they get to review and present their work for the year to someone outside the family. (Of course, our evaluator is also a homeschooling Mom!)
There you have it! Three steps to putting together a portfolio to wrap up your homeschooling year. Don’t forget to celebrate by planning a special dinner or treat for all of you. Congratulations on completing your year of homeschooling!
Do you have any special ways you wrap up your homeschooling year? Please do share in the comments below.