From the TEACHABLE MOMENT April 1997
' "So what have you been learning about this year?" My mind goes blank. What have we been learning about this year? Have we even learned anything? The harder I try to pull something out of my brain, the less I can remember.
Has this ever happened to you? Many times we grumble and complain about having to document our learning, but I've actually come to appreciate it. It's wonderful to have a record for those times when you just can't remember what specific learning has taken place. I had one of these episodes recently. I was really feeling discouraged in fact. We went to visit a relative and we grabbed a family video to show them. When we played it for them, there was our documentation on our squirrel project! Why couldn't I remember the squirrel project? The only reason I could come up with for not remembering the squirrel project is that we move from subject to subject so quickly at times. It was amazing how quickly my discouragement vanished.
I attended a workshop on portfolios a couple of years ago and saw many examples that could be used. I was amazed with one mother who made the portfolio into a scrapbook really. She had pictures throughout, along with documentation and the notebook was covered in fabric. It looked like a fun thing for the child.
Another mother just used her calendar, with page numbers and notes jotted down. There were other examples in the range between these two. One mother suggested collecting brochures from each place you visited on field trips and including them in the portfolio.
In our home, our older two children have documented their own portfolios for 2 years now. It can become a good way to build in a little extra language arts, as you can ask them to include a descriptive paragraph for a field trip or a science experiment. I also like the fact that it helps them to evaluate the amount of work they are accomplishing. At times, one or the other have looked at what they've written down and decided they needed to do more. I feel it helps them to be more self-directed.
Won't it be nice for our children when they are adults to be able to explore their portfolios with their own children and actually have a record of what they were interested in at a certain age? With this goal in mind ( a positive one instead of the negative one of fearing being called in by the school board for review), documenting and keeping a portfolio can actually become a pleasant experience.'
2012 Followup: It is mandatory in FL for those homeschoolers registered with the county to keep a portfolio and also a reading list, for 2 years past the particular year of homeschooling. Counties may ask to review the portfolio with 15 days notice. One other suggestion I began adopting over the years was to put everything for the year in a box as the year went along. Field trip brochures, pictures taken during field trips or snapshots taken of projects or learning experiences. In addition, I found it helpful to hang onto the itemized library receipts and put them in a ziplock bag. One thing most homeschoolers do is to read voraciously and the amount of library books checked out at one time sometimes shocks other people. The librarians have become used to that fact. I still get such a happy feeling when my children check out books from the library. Reading seems to be a part of their genetic systems now. But the next blog will share a bumpy road with reading in the Evelo Family.