****For help in deciphering the law and interpreting how to comply with testing, portfolios, and evaluations, read my updated letter:  2015 Updated Testing and Evaluating Intro and my home page with implications of the New PA Homeschool Law!  🙂

Portfolio time is far away (due to the school district by June 30 each year.)  What you do in your homeschooling now makes gathering samples for your portfolios much easier.

Here are a few Survival Skills to help prevent the all-nighter the day before your evaluation! canstock14916858

1.  Train your children to write their names and the date on every piece of paper.  If it is a birthday card for Grandma, a handwriting practice sheet, a math page, a history project or a book report, make sure it is easily identifiable.  It may seem silly if you only have one child, but sometime somewhere papers will get traded and disorganized.  This is a life skill to teach anyway, because it is good to take ownership of our work.  Name and dates on everything.

2.  Book Log – This is a way to bless yourself!  🙂  Train your children to record the books they read in one central location of your home.  Decorate a clip board with bright paints or stickers or add a document to your desktop or employ Post-It Notes on your schoolroom wall.  Decorate a jar as a family and write titles (and names – date not necessary on this one!) on slips of scrap paper.

3.  Fire Safety – This is the only subject which must be taught every year in homeschooling.  The elementary years can be filled with trips to the fire house, fire drills, family escape plans and mock dials of 9-1-1.  (Does your child have access to a phone for dialing 9-1-1?  Landline?  Cell phone?  Is your cell phone locked?  Does Grandma or the babysitter have a cell phone the children know how to use?)  Early years:

Fire Safety in the high school years can be practical also.  Practice using a fire extinguisher.  Enlist your children’s help in replacing batteries in smoke detectors.  Head out in the neighborhood looking for older couples to help with smoke detector batteries.   Emergency Preparedness is another great way to discuss fire safety and equip your children with relevant information.
Older students:

4.  Samples Demonstrating Progress – The portfolio must include samples of the child’s work (not necessarily mom’s scrapbook or digital expertise.)  For many, samples come easy:  worksheets, writings, drawings, tests, quizzes, book reports, time lines, essays, summaries, etc.  Here are a few tricky areas and some possible solutions:

– Teaching Textbooks – This computer course is becoming more popular with children and parents.  (I am not sure who loves it more sometimes!?!?)  🙂  It is imperative, especially because it is the subject of Math, that progress is recorded, maintained and available for the evaluator to review.  Yes, the grade book print outs are one evidence of mastery, however, the grades alone do not provide the documentation of a year’s worth of work.   (Tip:  Print out reports weekly or monthly in case of technological error or malfunction.)
*Each student must do the work in the workbook and then transfer the information to the computer, OR maintain an organized notebook of calculations that cannot be completed on the computer alone.  Not every problem needs to be accounted for, but an evaluator MUST be able see some written work from the student.
* Another efficient way to document progress in Math using Teaching Textbooks is to require the child to hand write the quizzes.
* All of these suggestions are second in nature to the utmost important role of the parent in monitoring the child’s daily or weekly progress.  A parent must not rely on the computer alone to monitor a child in the mastery of a subject.  Supervisors supervise.

– Unschooling/Child Led Learning/Delight Driven Learning – Templates can be your best friend in this realm.  Create a form or a template 0605001523ato be used after a field trip or visit with a special someone.  Teach your children how to record information they have researched.  Keep a nature journal documenting the wonders in God’s creation.  Keep a photo log of day trips and questions and curiosities.

– Classical Education and Charlotte Mason approaches – Reading aloud to your children and discussing the books is a beautiful way to enrich learning.  Conversations and memory drills help to review and implant information.  But how do you document all this time and effort?  Keep a detailed journal of progress.  Print out lists children have mastered (with a handwritten note describing process.)  Plan one day a  month to produce written material for the portfolio.

– Online programs – If your child is using an online curriculum or course (like or or, you must find something that represents the work completed.  Print out:
* a course description
* correspondence from the instructor
* a log book of days and hours and lessons covered
* the method of evaluation (tests, scores, etc.)
* printed screen shots of the child’s work
* hand written samples of course work
* a certificate of achievement

****For help in deciphering the law and interpreting how to comply with testing, portfolios, and evaluations, read my updated letter:  2015 Updated Testing and Evaluating Intro and my home page with implications of the New PA Homeschool Law!  🙂



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