Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Preparing For Our Homeschool Portfolio Review

It's that time again. This will be my forth review, and if all goes well- I will only need to be reviewed once a year from here on out. I review with the county board of education where we live. I have not encountered anything but helpful nice people at my reviews, so why oh why do I spend an uncomfortable month not looking forward to them. Well, this is why .   .   .

-A review naturally implies that I am being tested in some way
-I do not follow a curriculum but make my own
-My curriculum is philosophically different than the county norm, in many many ways
-Because I am being reviewed, I feel the need to finish projects we are working on or photographs to show     our work, but its not the end of the year- and we're not done!

None of these are big deals, now that I know I get a little excited the month beforehand. I can talk myself down when I hear my head talking about how I don't DO enough and I remember I am enough when I worry I'm not.
My daughter is right where I had planned she should be at the age she is, and even if she wasn't I know it wouldn't be due to faults on either of our parts.
Truth is, in a world where I have to spend so much time explaining our beliefs to others (and then all the time needed to follow our beliefs); I don't really feel that it is a valid use of my time to be organizing myself and preparing for this review right now. And I think I might actually be warming up to this umbrella group idea ( now your stuck with me Mariah Garret!).

Update: Our review was wonderful, once again. And now I'm back to feeling totally comfortable in my skin and my decisions. And even happy I have the opportunity to be an example in the way I am educating my children differently from the traditional education in my county. 

It seems this post gets more traffic than most. Below are a list of things I have learned from my reviews and what I do to feel prepared.

-I make a list of the topics and themes from each subject, and locate examples.
- I bring everything. All the books (although you could bring a list), all our work. I would rather have more than I need then not enough. I put a few select pieces of work from each subject area on top. Then only dig down deeper if necessary. I put our big projects on top.
-I bring my computer with a copy of all our pictures. I used to print these out but found they rarely asked to see them. I would much rather print the pictures I want, not just to prove we did something. So now I bring a digital copy.
-I do the talking. I am confident. I am excited about our work. I do not ask them questions. If they want more they will ask. Sometimes they ask questions like " does she do spelling words?", when she was in first grade. I have to say no. But I explain why. The educational philosophy I follow does not teach spelling words, I explain why and the progress I have seen from following the philosophy. Explaining why I trust it. In other word, I have educated answers that sound like I know what I am talking about. Because I do. I believe in what I am doing, and I believe in my child.
-I do not get flustered. If they want to see something I don't have or we don't do- I just say okay. I can think about it later, figure if it is necessary, something I should discuss later, or maybe it is something I should do.
- I have not yet ever brought my child. For two reasons. It is stressful for me to be reviewed, even though I have a regular reviewer I am comfortable with. I don't want any distractions. Secondly, I do not want my child to be confused by the review. I would rather come how and exclaim how impressed they were with her work. If at some point they do question our work, or philosophy, or I get a reviewer with something to prove- my child does not need to hear that. I think I will at some point bring her, I just don't feel she is ready yet.
Please feel free to post questions. The review process is daunting, just the thought of it. That's why I did this post initially, to vent about that.


  1. I feel so utterly undisciplined, and I wonder if I could ever handle homeschooling what's the secret and if you have one i'd love to here about it.. your post are gret

  2. http://rhythmofthehomeblog.com/ here is a lovely lovely link to a story from a mama who started with a similar question. I think we all start wondering if it is at all possible. But some dreams do come true. I find having a rhythm and plan for each day and year helps me, but that is just me ( I dont always stick to it, but I have something to fall back on). There are some links on the side that outline our rhythm and what works for us.