Minimalist Portfolio

For this season’s portfolio review, I decided to present only 3 samples of work for math, English, science, history, and health. My reason, initially, for the experiment was for the future when I will have a kindergarten student who may not want to fill out worksheets every day. As portfolio review time drew nearer, I kept seeing posts in my homeschool Facebook groups of people claiming they were told they had to bring every scrap of paper ever touched by their child. So, it became more of a “fight the system” experiment.
Today for my review, I brought a binder that contained:
  • language arts: list of resources used, list of topics covered and planned, and 3 work samples
  • math: list of resources used, list of topics covered and planned, and 3 work samples
  • science: list of resources used, list of topics covered and planned
  • history: list of resources used, list of topics covered and planned, and 3 work samples
  • art: list of resources used and a log of art activities completed
  • health: list of resources used
  • brief description of weekly PE and music activities and list of field trips
  • a printout of one complete week’s tasks (this was my backup evidence should I need it, and I did end up showing it)
For science and health, I brought the science textbook (RSO Biology 2) with 3 pages bookmarked for each of the two subjects. I did not want to rip apart the book to put things in my binder.
I had an elderly lady as my reviewer, one I had never had before. She struggled with having to enter everything into the computer and kept complaining that the boxes were too small to include all the details. This is the first time they did not use hand-written carbon paper documentation of the review.
She tried to give me grief over the language arts samples because I did not bring the vocabulary workbook to show and the 3 samples I did bring (a spelling tests of the words from said vocab book and two typed papers) were not enough. I told her I have always just brought samples in a binder and have never brought entire workbooks. Then, I pulled out my back-up list of work done in a week which distracted her from the vocab book.
Since language arts was the first subject, I thought it was going to be a tough road ahead since I only had 3 samples for the other subjects, but she did not bring up the lack of work again. My son has plenty of other work, and if they had made me come back to show more stuff, I would have brought it ALL. She did try her hardest to flip through the entire science book since it was there, but I kept redirecting her to only the pages I had marked. The reviewer also insisted on writing down how far we had gotten in the book. At my review last spring, a different reviewer had the same hang-up insisting on knowing what chapter we were in for each class.
The rest of the review went smoothly. However, the reviewer did ask me several strange questions. The sample weekly schedule I gave her was for a random week in mid-October and she asked if that was when we started school. The first science sample was a dozen or so pages into the book and she asked if we started the book there. Then, at the end, when she was typing up the extra-curriculars and noticed that we do German, she could not wrap her head around the fact that my child is bilingual. She kept asking if he is taking a class or is he practicing German. I told her he speaks it all the time around the house and yes, we do reading, writing, and comprehension work in German. Her comment was, “Oh, so he is pretty verbal, then.” What!?!?!?
Now I am just waiting for the reviewer to email me the write-up on my review. That should be interesting!

Other posts about my experiences with homeschool reviews and how Maryland homeschool law is interpreted: