What You Need to Know Before Your Homeschool Portfolio Evaluation

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I will not ask your child to jump through hoops for me. A few years ago, in my local area, it was common to hear from homeschooling families that their portfolio evaluator “tested” their kids during a portfolio evaluation. My initial reaction: WHY?! During a portfolio evaluation with me, I will not ask your child to read aloud to me, do math computations for me, or recite the dates of the major battles in the Civil War. There are, however, certain things that all homeschool evaluators must look for according to their state laws, and a portfolio evaluation does not include any of those things listed above for the states of Florida and Virginia, where the bulk of my clients reside. Always check your state’s requirements. 

We are so fortunate as homeschoolers across the country to have several options to choose from when it comes to providing evidence that our students have made progress each year. The benefits of using the portfolio evaluation option are many. Just take a look at this article to read more. I feel so strongly that the portfolio gives you and me a much more comprehensive picture of your child’s progress than any standardized or nationally normed test, that I do portfolio reviews exclusively.  Testing has its place. I have my girls test every year in addition to reviewing their portfolio and I often recommend that my clients do both as well. 

Why Choose a Homeschool Portfolio Review

Portfolio assessments provide an authentic way of demonstrating progress, skills and accomplishments. If I ask your child to read aloud to me, in order to assess his/her fluency, what would I be basing that day’s progress on? I would not know how your child’s fluency was at the beginning of your homeschool year in order to compare. Similarly, if I ask your student to take a math test for me, or any other one-time summative assessment, I would need a standard or benchmark with which to compare.

Formative and Summative Assessments 

A portfolio should include any type of formative or summative assessments that you, (the teacher) have done throughout the year.  The difference between formative and summative assessments is that formative assessments are given by you (the teacher) and help you monitor progress and provide feedback as you go along. For example, you are reading a great work of literature with your student, and you pause at the end of every chapter in order to assess comprehension. You provide feedback and identify any areas of strength or weakness which will help your student improve their learning.

Summative assessments are assessments that come at the end of a unit or course, and will examine your student’s learning by comparing it against some standard or benchmark.  For example, you may make up your own grading rubric after doing a unit study on Shakespeare. You then ask your student to compare Romeo and Juliet to Julius Caesar by designing a multimedia project.  Your grading rubric shows your student details of what you expect out of their paper or project which you will later use to “grade” it.

What to Expect During Your Homeschool Portfolio Review

During a portfolio review, I like to see YOUR formative and summative assessments included in the child’s portfolio.  I am happy to listen to your child read so that I can assess fluency if you would like me to, however, I never include this as part of my portfolio evaluation process, nor does the law in my state ask me to.

I am concerned that if homeschool evaluators who conduct annual portfolio reviews continue to ask their students to do these types of activities as a general rule, that they will be setting a precedent for this, and eventually our homeschool-friendly state will be adding these requirements to the law so that all homeschool evaluators will then put your child to the test As a homeschooling parent myself, I rather enjoy my freedom to be able to decide whether or not I want another person to administer (any type of) test to my children.  I certainly wouldn’t want my children to have to be subjected to it during a portfolio review.

Go here to learn more about the benefits of distance evaluations. You can read more about my services here. 

Benefits of Florida Online Homeschool Evaluations

The Benefits of Homeschool Portfolio Evaluations – at a Distance!

Just this week I had several homeschooling moms ask me why I no longer portfolio evaluations in person.  I did write about this on the old blog, and I think it deserves a place here in our new(er) space as well.  Before I answer though, let me just say that I really would love to meet you, but I’d rather talk to you via Zoom or phone. 🙂 Let me explain why. 

Introvert, Extrovert, Ambivert? 

There has been a lot of talk on social media about personality types: introverts, extroverts, and ambiverts too. I have spent some time pondering this myself and I do find personality/learning style quizzes fun and interesting. I am most definitely an introvert. When I have too many places to have to be, too many people to talk to, and too many outside-the-home commitments, it can take me days to recover my energy. This is how introverts are: they recharge by being alone and quiet. 

Because I am a homeschooling mom, I don’t get much alone time, but I can go outside and work in my garden, or go hang out in the barn with my horses for a bit.  I need this. Fortunately, my family understands and lucky for me, my girls are also introverts so we “get” each other. Yet, despite not necessarily getting “energized” by our social activities, we trudge on and go to classes, meet with friends and live a joyful, full life.  I couldn’t imagine living in a household full of extroverts! 

I work from home as well, both as a homeschool consultant and evaluator, curriculum creator, and as a part-time teacher.  Both of these provide me with joy and satisfaction, but I can get drained of energy. Can you relate?

The Need for Change

I began doing homeschool evaluations and consulting in 2007.  My clients and I would meet in local coffee shops.  Since the bulk of my evaluation requests come in during the late spring and summer months, I found myself spending all of my Saturdays and three to four nights a week away from my family. They started to feel the effects of my absence.  My girls were littler then and I missed them!  That was when I decided to change the way I did things.  

Most of my consulting work was done long-distance anyway, and I had many clients from other parts of Florida and other states already doing distance-evaluations by emailing or snail-mailing me work samples, so I decided to ask my local clients to do their evaluations online too.  I knew that this would make it easier for me, but I never expected that most of my clients actually preferred doing their evaluations this way as well.  Maybe they are all fellow introverts! 😉 Seriously, though; the process is just so much more convenient and thorough for everyone involved. 

Do Your Homeschool Portfolio Evaluation From Anywhere!

 
Online or distance-evaluations are super easy. You can upload work samples whenever you want to, and email them to me ahead of time.  Of course, this is not the only way to show me the work that your students have done.  Over the years I have had families share their work in these ways:

* Create a blog (I love these and many of my unschooling families do this.)
* Create a private Facebook page (Love this too!)
* Create a Youtube channel (some of my families who do this are amazing and I love to see and hear the students I am evaluating)
* Scan and email samples of work
* Snail-mail work samples to me

Florida asks evaluators to have a conversation with the student as well, and the way we fulfill this requirement is via a short phone chat, or Skype session. After that, the time is YOURS for whatever you’d like to discuss. Read more about how I conduct evaluations here.

Evaluation and Consultation In One

A big perk of scheduling a portfolio evaluation with me is that you are able to ask me any questions you want to during our phone session.  Yes, the phone session is for the student; however, that time is for you as well.  One of the benefits of doing a distance-evaluation with me is that you can decide what you’d like to discuss with me before-hand and give me a heads up about it so that I can research and ponder before hand.  This is the best way to use our time together, and is the way that I have been doing consulting sessions since the beginning. Another benefit to you if you choose me as your evaluator, is that I will answer any questions you have via email all year long.  If you have more in-depth questions about a particular topic such as curriculum choices, learning styles, etc. then we can schedule a consult; however, many questions can be answered via email. 

Book Your Appointment!

Are you ready to book your appointment!  Just click here for my appointment scheduler, and choose the time that works best for you and your family.  I look forward to talking with you! Read my testimonials page to see a sampling of what some of my other families have said about working with me! 

 

How to Implement Music & Creative Writing in Your Homeschool

music & creativity in our homeschool in florida

How to Implement Music & Creative Writing in Your Homeschool

I’m guest posting over at lifeschoolingconference.com! Check it out In this blog post I talk about how we use creative writing and music in our homeschool (“lifeschool”) and how you can, too! Come on over and find out what the term “lifeschool” means. You’ll also read my top tips for implementing music and creative writing n your homeschool at any age.

What is Creativity?

Creativity does not have to be limited to the arts as we well know. Many scientists and computer programmers and engineers have amazingly creative minds. Music and poetry and sculpture are other means of expressing what God has given us: the will and ability to create.

Creativity is the purest expression of learning. Some believe it is the way to achieve the highest level of self-actualization.

Read more here. 

 

Top 10 Things That Negatively Affect Your Homeschool Learning Environment

When you’re new to homeschooling or are simply thinking about it, you have tons of questions about how to begin! There are so many things to consider! You also need to consider the space you have and how to best utilize it. Even though you may make a terrific teacher, and have the perfect curriculum, those are only pieces of the puzzle. Another crucial aspect will be your home, and, more specifically, how the environment contributes to a thriving learning arrangement. There are a few important things to be aware of that can negatively affect your homeschool learning environment.

Source: Pexels.com

Too Much Clutter

If you’ve got too much junk in your home, then you’ll want to take a look at having a clearout. (more…)

Homeschooling With a Newborn

homeschooling with a newbornHomeschooling has many challenges within it, and there are a number of situations in which it can prove to be particularly challenging to keep it going in the way you would hope for. One is when you have a newborn to think about and look after, and many people who have been in this particular situation will know well the feeling of being a little overwhelmed by everything which is going on. If you have recently given birth and you are wondering how to carry on homeschooling all of your children, there are a few things to consider. In this post, we will look at a number of the most important factors you should take on board.

Turn All Baby Things Into a Lesson

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Running a Business While Homeschooling: Making it Work for You

Running a business while homeschooling
Image: https://www.pexels.com/search/desk%20space/

As a homeschool parent, a huge portion of your time is tied up teaching your kids, and so running a business and earning money can be tricky. However, thanks to the internet, no longer is it impossible and there are actually lots of ways to earn an income in a flexible way, right from your own home. However, there are some things you’ll need to consider, here’s how to make running a business while homeschooling successful for you.

Find a place to work from

When you’re working from home as a freelancer, or running your blogging business, it’s easy to assume that you can sit at your dining table, on your sofa or even work from your bed in your pajamas! (more…)

Q & A With the Author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Kids Outside the Conventional Classroom

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If you’ve been homeschooling long enough, you’ve likely come across the term “unschooling.” Unschooling is one of those terms that often has the homeschooling community at odds with one another, as if there are only black and white approaches to educating our children. Many homeschooling families, chose to educate their kids at home so that they can educate kids outside the box: unschooling is just one way of (as the title reads), raising curious, well-educated kids outside the conventional classroom.

As a homeschool consultant and evaluator, I have had the pleasure of working with many unschooling families over the years. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am a huge proponent of child-led learning. I have a deep respect for successful unschooling families.

When I came across the book, Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom by Kerry McDonald, I knew I had to have it. (more…)

Earning Around Homeschooling: How Can it Be Done?

homeschool in florida working while homeschooling
Image: https://www.pexels.com/search/desk%20space/

Living on a tight budget can be tough when you have a family. For many, it involves living on a single partner’s income while the other takes care of the kids. And if you’re a reader of this blog then you’re more than likely a homeschool parent meaning that you can probably relate to this. Since your days are filled with teaching your children, you don’t exactly have the time nor the energy to be going out to work a traditional job too- however that doesn’t mean you can’t earn at all. These days, there are fantastic ways to earn right from your own home, in a flexible way which can be totally worked around your family and commitments like homeschooling. Here are some examples!

Work From Home

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Gluten-Free Greek “Grilled” Chicken Salad With Your Air Fryer

gluten-free recipe with your air fryer

If you love your air fryers like I do, you’ll love this easy, gluten-free airy fryer recipe for Greek Grilled Chicken Salad! I especially love using the air fryer now since it is summer, and for me, summer in Florida! Can anyone turn up the air conditioning?!

I dabbled in the world of airy fryers by watching my husband use his Christmas gift, the Char-Broil Big Easy (link below). We have made so many delicious meals using that air fryer, and we love it. It is too large for a kitchen counter, though, but it did totally sway me toward  purchasing a counter-sized air fryer as well.

You all know that we are a gluten-free family (except for my husband), so any yummy gluten-free recipes are always appreciated! Link to your favorites in the comments. 🙂 (more…)

4 Important Things To Remember When Creating A Homeschooling Area

When you’re homeschooling your children, you may want to set up a designated study area. Sometimes it’s helpful for kids to be able to separate schooling from the rest of their home life, while other kids can focus just fine from the couch or the kitchen table. I recommend having some are that is quiet and separated as a study area. A lot of parents don’t really know where to start with this and that means they make a lot of simple mistakes with their homeschool area which can have a big impact on their child’s ability to learn. When creating a quiet study space for your homeschool, here are 4 important things to consider when creating a homeschool area.

Noise

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