Electronic Portfolios

The way I have presented my kids’ portfolios has changed a little over the years. I began with a binder, but moved to PowerPoints in the last couple of years. I noticed that the reviewers just copied down exactly what I had written (except for the guy who couldn’t spell.) So, after my review last fall, I emailed the director of the homeschool office and asked if she would consider electronic portfolios, as some other countries in Maryland already offer as an option. She said, at that time, that she would make that an option for the spring reviews. Well, as luck would have it, the real world shut down this spring and there was no choice but to have virtual reviews for everyone!

While some counties decided that families who passed the fall review could just sign a voucher affirming that they continued in a similar manner for the rest of the school year, my county decided that they still needed to review all homeschoolers and gave us four different options: a video conference, emailing a grade report, emailing a link to a portfolio compiled in Google Drive or OneDrive, or mailing a physical portfolio to the reviewer.

I chose to create the portfolios in Google Docs and send that link. Actually, I had begun gathering my kids’ information in such documents right after the director confirmed in the fall that electronic submission would be an option. So, my documentation was ready to be sent as soon as my county decided how to handle the review situation this spring.

What I submitted

Below are some of the pieces of my children’s portfolios to illustrate what I provided. The examples alternate between the kindergartener and the high schooler. Since during a face-to-face review, I usually give some explanations of what I am presenting, I began with a short overview of our program, like this:

This portfolio provides evidence that {child’s name) is receiving regular and thorough home instruction in the subjects specified by COMAR 13A.10.01.01. (Child’s) grade level is kindergarten. The information included in this portfolio covers the education received since the fall review 2019, which took place on (xx/xx/xx), through May 2020.

The foundation of instruction is the Torchlight Level K curriculum which uses a literature-based, cross-curricular approach for social studies, language arts, science, music, and art. Reading lists and additional curriculum are provided below within the relevant subjects.

If you have any questions about the contents of this portfolio and child’s instructional program, please contact her mother, (parent’s name), at (email@email.mail) or (phone number).

After that, I made a section for each subject, in the order that reviewers have the subjects on their write-ups. For each subject, I provided a paragraph on the overall course naming the curriculum (if applicable), like this example for high school health:


Health instruction is focusing on critical thinking about pseudoscience through the Great Courses lecture series Medical Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths: What We Think We Know May Be Hurting Us. This course has no written work. It involves listening to audio lectures and having subsequent discussions. Completion of this course satisfies the health requirement for high school. 

That kind of introduction for each subject was followed by a list of topics. In this cas, it was just the titles of the lectures. For other subjects, I listed the names of the units or chapters in the textbook. If there is no textbook, like the unit studies and other random topics we do for kindergarten science, I have to remember to list the topics once a month or so, so I don’t forget what we covered.

For many subjects, I also included a reading list, particularly for my younger child because much of her science and social studies education comes from me reading picture books to her on different topics. I export these lists from Homeschool Tracker where I create both kids’ weekly assignment lists. I do not, however, provide the assignment lists. Since the portfolio is just a snapshot of what we do and not daily detail, I keep the reading lists to a page or less, even though we read at least a book a day. Below is part of one of the reading lists:

The final items in each subject listing were three work samples. I simply take a picture with my phone of work and then import them into the document when I work on the portfolio. All of those samples are not written work either, especially for my younger child. In her case, many of the samples are photos of projects or activities rather than worksheets.

The Reviewer’s Response

My reviewer was surprised that I sent her the portfolios so quickly and she appreciated the organization. This is the fourth time we have worked with this same reviewer since our school district allowed us to schedule with specific reviewers. She sent me back the write-ups the next day with a little chatty note about how she read all of my son’s paper about a novel that I included and how she might read that book now. Again, the write-up was essentially a cut-and-paste of the details I provided.

If you would like to read about my previous face-to-face review experiences, they can be found here: