Evaluating Midyear: Homeschooling

writing hand

Each year about this time I look over what we have done in the beginning of the school year and try and figure out what we have accomplished and then work on a plan for what still needs to be done.

Looming in my mind are the thoughts about the importance of finishing that 7th grade science book or whether that child understands what he is reading. Is he “getting” it?

What has he learned so far this year and what else would he need or like to learn for this year?

If you have read my post before you know that I make a plan at the beginning of each year. More like an outline of what I plan to accomplish.

This time of year JANUARY I reevaluate that plan and decide:

  • Was it a good plan?
  • Was I was off the mark in what I thought each child could accomplish?
  • Was I asking too much of him/her?
  • Was it was too easy, should I have asked more of him/her?

THEN the hard questions…

  • Will I have enough to put in a portfolio for the state or is this one of those years where we have to push through a ton of school work at the end of the year to get “enough” done for the state office?
  • Did I think more of the stuff that needed to get done than I did of the child himself who was having to do all that stuff?
  • Do I have that child best interests at heart?
  • Do I have his future goals in my mind while working this plan?

Well, this year we did not accomplish as much…


It surprises me each year around this time.

I look through all the work the children have done and I realize…

Man, they did a TON!

I am thankful we have accomplished so much and also relieved that there isn’t a crazy load of work that still needs to be accomplished.

My plan for this coming semester:

Princess, 3rd grade:

  • ART: Let her work on her art book as much as possible as she loves art.
  • MATH: See if she can get those multiplication facts memorized.
  • WRITING, SCIENCE, HISTORY: Write one more science and one more history report for the portfolio. She needs to work on not using so many capital letters within her sentences.
  • OTHER: She really enjoyed that horse study, maybe we should keep working on that or has it been enough and just let her enjoy horses on her own.

Collector, 7th grade:

  • MATH: He is doing really well and just needs to keep working consistently through his workbook. He needs to be reminded he is amazing at math.
  • WRITING, HISTORY: He needs to write one more history report for me for his portfolio. His paragraph writing needs a bit of improvement. Remembering that one topic per paragraph and keeping all that topic together in the one paragraph.
  • SCIENCE: He loves his new science book and is working through it well. The fact that he is sharing information from his chapters as he is reading them means he “gets it”. This is called narration or narrating his lessons, it shows comprehension.

Pilot, 9th grade:

  • MATH: All set and going strong. Learning a lot this year and remembering most of it. Having a great time also with his arduino board.
  • WRITING, SCIENCE, HISTORY: He needs to write 2 more reports. One report for science and one for history. When writing he needs to have the quiet and the time to think about what he wants to write. He gives up before he has the chance to get his thoughts on paper if there is too much happening around him.
  • OTHER: Really think he would enjoy doing that “Pilots Weather” book for science, either at the end of this school year or for next semester.

Tech, 11th grade:

  • MATH: He is just starting his college math course and is a bit nervous. I am sure he will do fine, it’s just getting used to a new teacher online. He has done plenty this year and this will be a great end to his junior year.
  • WRITING, HISTORY: His college writing course took care of most of the writing required for this year. I will need one more history topic report from him for his portfolio. he can choose the topic.
  • SCIENCE: Biology is going well. Need to order those specimens for dissection so he can finish up this course on time.

So that’s my plan, well actually their plan for this semester before our lives get busy during the summer.

  • When do you reevaluate?

  • What does the rest of your school year look like?

Ours is pretty straight and on course which shocked me completely.

BUT Happy, this mom is HAPPY!

Homeschool Portfolios: Planning 2


In my last post I mentioned I would show you how I plan at the beginning of the year for a portfolio at the end of the year that showed educational success and improvement from the previous year. Here is what I do. This is a follow-up to this post: Homeschool Portfolio: Planning 1

Decide What Topics You Will Teach In Each Subject Area

This step takes a quite a bit of work. Not really.

For our state I am going to be sending in samples for 8 subject areas. Sounds daunting but wait till it’s broken down.

Three of those subject areas only require 1 sample each. It’s not to hard to plan 1 topic for those 3 subject areas: Physical Education, Health, and Fine Arts.

Down to 5 areas..

One subject area “Literature” only requires a list of 10 books the child has read or have been read to the child. Not too hard to plan 10 books over a period of 10 months.

Lastly, 4 areas require 4-6 samples each. This takes a bit more planning but still, I find that it’s not too hard to plan out 4 pieces of paper for each of these areas: Language Arts, Math, History, and Science.

How do I figure these all out?

I am going to take them one subject at a time and show you how I do it.

-Physical Education

What does my child like to do? Some ideas: ride bikes, play soccer, yoga, climb trees, or stretching exercise. I just need one sample so I know I can get a picture of him riding his bike so I make a note that I will be taking a picture of him bike riding for my portfolio sample. Done


What are some areas of health that are pretty easy? How about dental health, nutrition, heart health, or first aid kit. Well I do have a first aid kit and it would be a good thing for him to know how to use the items in it. So, I will use first aid  kit as my topic and my sample for my portfolio will be a drawing he makes of a first aid kit and a couple definitions of what a few of the items are used for. Done

-Fine Arts

What counts as fine arts? Some areas are music lessons, listening to music, drawing, craft projects, sewing, and painting. Now I know that he loves painting and will most likely paint something this year without me even asking him to. So, that will be my topic for this years Fine Arts area. Done

-Language Arts

I have some old standbys that I use each year. These include: spelling, vocabulary, handwriting, grammar, poetry, letter writing, reports, parts of speech, note taking, learning to read, phonics, composition, book reports, capitalization, and punctuation. There are more, but I only need 4-6 so I choose them from this list and then I am done picking my topics for this area.


I also have some regulars I have for this area but another way to do it would be to go online and look up math topics by grade and pick 4-6 of them to list. My favorites are: addition, decimals, subtraction, multiplication, division, mixed numbers, Roman numerals, fractions, percents, ratios, averages, area, volume, angles, perimeter, negative numbers, counting, measurement, metric conversion, and geometry. I have others but I just choose 4-6 of these  and then I am finished with the topics for math.


What would you like to study this year? As for everything you should have this look different for each year so it shows improvement and academic growth. I do list map skills nearly every year though. Areas we use regularly are maps, map skills, geography, US history, Canada, continents, states and capitals, world history, economics, government, state history, basic geography terms, farms, citizenship, and world cultures. I pick 4-6 of these for my list of topics.


What would your child like to study this year? What did you study last year? It should be different this year. Some of my favorite areas of study are plants, botany, animals, invertebrates, rocks, minerals, volcanoes, earthquakes, air and water, pollution, human body, biology, chemistry, farm animals, birds, weather, aerodynamics, experiments, dissection, and disease and the immune system. I take 4-6 of these and I am all done with my topics for science.


What is my child reading or what do I want to read to my child or what books on tape can we get from the library? I usually start with where my child is by grade level and look up online a list of books that would normally be read at this grade level. I find ones I know or feel would be okay to have my child read and make up a list. I also look online at my library’s books on tape list see if any of these books could be listened to in the car on our way around town. This has worked really well when I can find at least 5 of them as books on tape and 5 that I will read to the children or that a child will read himself. Done

What if I have curriculum I am using?

Of course if you have a set of books you are using for math or language arts or any subject,  you could just take the first 4-6 chapters and use those topics for these topic lists. But if not then this information might be useful to you. I do have books for my children’s subjects but I don’t always use those chapters as my topic lists and I just list ones that are easier to document like the ones listed above.

Once I have all these picked out I list them in outline form so that I can use it as a check off list for during the year showing what I have done and have left to do.

Here is a sample:

  • Language Arts
    • Phonics
    • Beginning Spelling
    • Handling Books
    • Handwriting
  • Math
    • Counting
    • Beginning Addition and Subtraction Facts
    • Measurement
    • Money
  • History
    • Farm and Zoo
    • Basic Geography Terms
    • Making a Simple Map
    • Neighborhood Helpers
  • Physical Education
    • Bike Riding
  • Health
    • First Aid Kit
  • Science
    • Farm Animals
    • Birds
    • Plants
    • Weather
  • Fine Arts
    • Painting

I also organize my paperwork to more easily accomplish my goals for covering these topics during the year, but that’s for another post.

I hope this was helpful to you.

Homeschooling Portfolios: Planning 1



In our state we have the option of sending in a portfolio for our end of the year assessment of what we have done for the year homeschooling.

Over the past 25 years I have kind of figured out what they really want to see. Here is how I plan my year around the end game of sending in a portfolio.


#1 Figure Out What Your State Requires for Samples

In our state I have found that they require:

  • 4 to 6 samples for each of these subjects: Language Arts, Math, Science, and History (also one of these history samples need to be state specific)
  • 1 sample for each of these subjects: Physical Education, Fine Arts, and Health
  • Finally they like a list of 10 books read for Literature
  • In the accumulation of this small bit of samples the state also likes to see 4 samples of written work of which the difficulty varies depending upon the age of the child. These are not in addition to the above samples but are included in the above numbers.

This information tells me that I will need to plan on about one sample a month for 6 months for each of these: Language Arts, Math, Science, and History.

BUT for Physical Education, Fine Arts, and Health I will only need to work on these for a single month.

The last thing this information tells me is that my child needs to read at least 1 book a month (or have me read it to him). This way I will have 10 books for a list in my portfolio.

#2 When Does Your Portfolio Need to Be Submitted?

I know our portfolios need to be in before Labor Day but anytime after March 1st is acceptable. So when doing my planning I work from the idea that I want to send it in as soon as possible and be done with all the required stuff. For me this has been kind of a game of getting everything done in order to get them sent in by April 1st which is a silly date anyway 🙂

All my planning is done by months so knowing I have August through April to work with gives me the parameters I need to start my portfolio planning.

  • August –
  • September –
  • October –
  • November –
  • December –
  • January –
  • February –
  • March –
  • April –
  • May – I usually give myself the extra month just in case I need it


#3 Plan Out When You Will Do Each Sample

After I know the number of samples and the number of months I have to accomplish these samples I can break down what I will be doing each month. Here is the minimum of what I would do:

  1. August

    a. Language Arts: 1 sample
    b. Math: 1 sample
    c. Science: 1 sample (a report on a topic, 1st of the written samples)
    d. List of 2 books to read this month (only month with 2 books)
    e. Fine Arts: 1 sample  (done with Fine Arts for the year)

  2.  September

    a. Language Arts: 1 sample
    b. Math: 1 sample
    c. History: 1 sample (a report on a topic, 2nd of the written samples)
    d. 1 book to read this month
    e. Physical Education: 1 sample (done with Phys. Ed. for the year)

  3. October

    a. Science: 1 sample
    b. 1 book to read this month
    c. Health: 1 sample (done with Health for the year)

  4. November

    a. Language Arts: 1 sample (book report, 3rd of the written samples)
    b. Math: 1 sample
    c. History: 1 sample
    d. 1 book to read this month

  5. December

    a. Language Arts: 1 sample (create a poem, 4th and done the written samples for the year)
    b. Math: 1 sample
    c. Science: 1 sample
    d. 1 book to read this month

  6. January

    a. History: 1 sample
    b. 1 book to read this month

  7. February

    a. Language Arts: 1 sample
    b. Math: 1 sample
    c. Science: 1 sample (done with Science for the year)
    d. 1 book to read this month

  8. March

    a. Language Arts: 1 sample (done with LA for the year)
    b. Math: 1 sample (done with Math for the year)
    c. State History Topic: 1 sample (done with History for the year)
    d. 1 book to read this month

  9. April

    a. 1 book to read this month (done, you now have your 10 books for the book-list for the Literature section)

As you can see by this list there is not a huge workload in order to accomplish a portfolio of your students work.

Without a plan it does seem very daunting but taking a few minutes to figure this information out makes it look doable.

Personally I do a bit more work than this.

For the months from August till April we do a sample for each of these subjects: Language Arts, Math, History, and Science. Then at the end of the year I have 9 samples to choose from in each area.

We are always doing art projects so there is easily one a month for the younger crowd.

Physical education is way more than one with the kids doing soccer in the fall and spring, ice skating in the winter, and martial arts weekly, etc we have way more than one sample.

BUT in a tough year I know what the minimum I will need to accomplish in order to submit a thorough portfolio in April or even in July if it was a real tough year.

I am going to take you one step further and show you what I do at the beginning of the year to make sure my portfolio is educationally sound and looks like my kid did something and improved or at least did something different from last year.

BUT that’s for my next post. Hope this was helpful. Have a great weekend.

Here is a link to that post: Homeschool Portfolios: Planning 2