In Florida, one option for an end of the year evaluation of a student educated at home is a portfolio evaluation. This is the method of evaluation that we have always used, and you can find out more specifics on Florida evaluations here.
However, others not from Florida may also need to keep a portfolio on file or submit a portfolio for review or end of the year evaluation; and this can often be a bit nerve wracking for a new homeschooler or a new to Charlotte Mason homeschooler, as the case may be. There are many ways to document learning, though often paper/pencil exercises come to mind first. Especially if you have young children, you may want to document learning in other ways.
- Keep a learning log/record of activities.
Keeping a learning log can be as simple as getting a blank spiral or composition notebook or printed calendar bought at an office supply store and using it to record assignments or learning activities as they happen or after the fact. You can record it in list form or in a narrative form. If you are using a curriculum such as Ambleside Online or Mason's Alveary that comes with a printed schedule, you can also simply print that off, check off and date assignments as they are completed and file the schedule away as it is completed. If you have a very young child that does not have a lot of written work, the learning log is especially valuable in documenting what your child has been working on and what he is capable of doing. You can also make your own student planner/assignment list....the options are endless!
There are computer programs available for homeschool planning, such as Homeschool Planet or the CM Organizer that let you plan ahead and then check off what was completed. (Note: The Homeschool Planet will automatically play a video....make sure your sound is down if have a sleeping child nearby.) Both of these programs are suited to a CM homeschool as it is easy to shift assignments, to auto schedule recurring assignments, to record notes with assignments and more!
For those who like paper and pencil recording and want something preprinted and especially for homeschooling, there is unique homeschool log that I have used in the past published by Notgrass. It is called A Record of the Learning Lifestyle, and it focuses on so much more than academic learning. Recording observations about your child in all the different areas in this planner will go a long way in easing the burden some might feel about "proving" that learning is taking place. Our children are learning all the time and in so many ways! (It's exciting, isn't it?!)
The most important thing about keeping a learning log is that you pick a method suited to your personality and that you use it consistently.
- Keep samples of written narrations or other written work.
Narrations can be transcribed for young students and hand written or typed by older students. You do not need a great number of these. A few samples per year will usually suffice (check your state's requirements), though I tend to try to record a narration for beginning students at least once a month for documentation purposes. Use a voice recorder as your child narrates so you can go back and write/type the narration without having to slow your child down or risk breaking his train of thought.
Keep samples of copywork, dictation, Book of Century pages (even if it's a family book recorded by you), Commonplance Book entries, nature study pages, lab pages, math journal pages, etc. You can photocopy a few pages (or a page a month) spaced throughout the year from of journals or bound books to place in the portfolio.
- Keep a reading list.
Keep a list of all books used for lessons, as family read alouds, or those read independently in leisure time. If you use the library a lot and if your library gives printed receipts of books checked out, you can simply store these in a pocket folder or pouch in the portfolio. If you do not own a book to refer back to if needed and/or if you need to substantiate content for a reviewer, photocopy the table of contents and one or two sample pages from a book used for lessons and file those. It can be fun to photocopy a page or two from a book that shows the type of reading your child is capable of as well to keep in a portfolio (especially for beginning/newer readers who have accomplished so much to be able to read).
- Keep other lists.
Keep a list of artists and pictures studied, composers studied, memory work, poetry studied, handcraft projects, practical life skill projects, service projects, etc.
- Take photographs.
Take photographs of any type of learning activity as your child is actively involved in it. Nature study, field trips, paintings, drawings, science experiments, cooking, handcraft projects, etc.-----photographs are excellent documentation of areas of work.
First sewing machine project
Practicing violin for a Christmas performance
Archaeology exhibit at a living history field trip location
- Record videos.
If your child is giving an oral narration or recitation, record it on video (or by audio). Record singing, instrument playing, drill, dance, athletic endeavors, etc. Put these on a disk or thumb drive and store it with your portfolio. I used to evaluate portfolios for local homeschoolers, and one of my favorite evaluations was when a mom gave me a DVD to watch filled with short segments of learning from her son's year.
- Other records
Other things that you might keep in a homeschool portfolio include: field trip brochures, printed programs from performances attended or ones in which your child participated, certificates of participation, awards, etc.
Happy CM Homeschooling!