Portfolio Review Time!


You are almost finished with school! Yippee! Now what do you need to do to continue homeschooling next year? Here in Ohio you will need to have your child’s academic progress assessed. This can be done through a portfolio review (also known as a written narrative) or taking a standardized test. Since I have a portfolio review business, I am going to concentrate on this.

There are many advantages to portfolio reviews. I have listed what I think are the most common reasons.

  • If you have a child who is not yet reading or fluency and speed are being developed, a portfolio review is an excellent option to testing.
  • Perhaps you have a “Wiggly One” who has not been used to sitting for a long period of time, written narratives are perfect for them!
  • Many homeschool curricula doesn’t follow the typical public school academic courses and of study or Common Core so what your child has studied will not be tested that particular year.
  • The time is much shorter than testing. 30 minutes is all the time we need, while testing takes between 3-9 hours, depending upon the test.
  • You can use this form of assessment throughout all of your scholar’s academic career (senior high too).
  • It is affordable. My fees are $40.00 for each student. I will give you the state required form needed to continue homeschooling and I also send you an electronic feedback form that is for your own personal reference.
  • It is perfect for students who have special needs. I have tutored ASD students and I have also had several families come for reviews.
  • If you are an unschooler or don’t use textbooks, portfolio reviews (written narratives) allow you to showcase your academic year.
  • I only need to see and evaluate work samples, not your student, so there is no stress to your child being interviewed or quizzed.
  • I successfully homeschooled and graduated my own children. 🙂

If you are new to the portfolio review process and would like detailed information concerning this option please read the post, Understanding Portfolio Reviews under my Portfolio Review Tab that I believe will be especially helpful.

Please email me at to set up an appointment if you live in the Cincinnati area. I have some evening appointments if day appointments are not possible. I have a NEW Option for anyone who can’t come to my house or meet me at a nearby coffee shop because of distance or an extenuating circumstance. I am offering Skype appointments. If you are interested in this option please let me know when you email me.

I look forward to meeting with you,

~ Lisa

9oo Hours


When you first read the Home Education Notification Form that you need to provide 900 hours of home education you might have had visions of your precious child sitting at a hard wooden desk for 8 hours. Maybe your thought was, “How are we supposed to do that?”

The good news is that you do not need to spend those 900 hours only doing schoolwork at a desk and reading monotonous textbooks. Although, using an interesting textbook is an excellent way to learn. 🙂 Home Education takes place each day, all day long. You are instructing your children throughout the day.  Discussing the importance of taking a bath, brushing teeth, and eating a well-balanced breakfast all are part of a health curriculum since these are components of hygiene and nutrition. Receiving an allowance; deciding on a plan for saving money to purchase something; tithing; and saving a portion of it are areas of math that are not necessarily covered in a textbook; but are essential to teach our children how to manage their money. Keeping toys picked up, not touching a hot stove, discussing and practicing how to get out of your home in case of a fire or an emergency are all part of a safety curriculum. All of these activities help to reinforce and enhance what you are studying.

One time I was telling the boys about how sound carries better if you cup your hands around your mouth and shout. Well, of course, we had to go outside and prove that idea. I couldn’t just have them go outside and yell, I decided to incorporate stranger safety into the activity as well. One son was on our play set slide while the other son was on a swing, each yelling “help” and kicking their legs with all of their might.  It didn’t occur to me until well into the activity that someone might really think the boys were actually in trouble. Fortunately, no one was around to witness this event except me.

So, how do you go about making sure that you have covered 900 hours of home instruction? If you take a typical school year, which is approximately 180 days and you divide into 900 you will arrive at 5 hours. This means you would provide instruction for your student a schedule of Monday through Friday beginning at 8:00 (if you are an early bird) and finishing at 1:30 with a 30 minute break for lunch.  Of course, you can begin and end school with the schedule that works best for your family.

Many families go on school-related outings on the weekends with things such as park programs with a naturalist (science), participating in sporting events such as a soccer team (physical education), going to a museum (history, art) or going on vacations and identifying birds, wildflowers, seashells (social studies,science), etc.

I created an attendance sheet that was Sunday through Saturday since we had several weekend events and field trips. You can keep track of the number of days you are homeschooling and have a record of that to put in your lesson plan book or school binder. Days add up quickly and you will find you easily meet the required hours of home instruction.

Am I advocating you sit around and watch cartoons, eat 3 bowls of ice cream and call that home education? No, I am not. You need to be purposeful in your home instruction and plan your school year, which includes all of the subjects listed on the Home Education Notification Form. You can watch cartoons and eat one scoop of ice cream in your free time. 🙂 You can, however,  make your school practical and fun while teaching your children; that is one of the benefits of home education. Educating our children doesn’t stop when we put away the school books.

If you are in need of a calendar to plan school and extra curricular activities there are many free printable calendars available. Some you can even edit, which is a nice feature.  I marked the calendar date with a diagonal line through the date if it was just a half day (such as a weekend) or an x for a full day. This is a website I have used over the years and i just type right on the calendar and print it off. Easy! To view, CLICK HERE.

This is not legal advice. It is my opinion. I am not a lawyer, have not studied law, nor do I play the role of an actor in any play or motion picture. 🙂 Please consult your local homeschool group, CHEO, or HSLDA if you are in need of legal advice.

Portfolio Reviews(Written narratives)

portfolioIf you have never done a portfolio review the process is simple. You gather your student’s work, (see picture)  and schedule a time for me to review your student’s work. Next, you come  see me, and show off what your student has done.  We discuss the academic progress for the year and any questions you may have with regards to the academic year.  As I review the portfolio of work samples that you have brought I offer suggestions for curriculum and help where you may need it.

When you leave I give you the portfolio review paperwork to turn in with the additional paperwork you submit for the upcoming year.  Voila! You are finished!  You can now go and celebrate the completion of your school year with your family. (Cheers and shouts of jubilation resounding throughout the house)

Afterwards, I will email you a  portfolio checklist of the areas your scholar had studied and any notes, suggestions, or recommendations I have from our meeting. I have noticed with us homeschoolers we cover a wide range of topics as we are discussing the year. It can be  difficult for you to write everything while we are discussing your student’s progress, thus my checklist.

If you do not live close to me then I can arrange to meet you somewhere, or we can skype. I have even had people scan and send documents to me and spoken via phone about them. It’s almost like being here! 🙂 I love technology, don’t you?

I am scheduling appointments now. My fee is $40.00 for one child and a discounted price ($35.00) for additional students in your family. No charge for pets! 🙂 If you would like to come and see me to do a portfolio review, please either comment below or email me. Either way, I will respond as quickly as I can once I receive your message.

Feel free to ask questions about portfolio reviews in the comment box or contact me via email. I will be glad to help.

~ Lisa

** Some people are concerned about having work samples to show if they are not using traditional curriculum or their child isn’t reading. That’s not a problem. Bring samples of projects or pictures of what your child has done. You can also write a summary of the year and we will discuss it.  If you have read aloud to your student then write a list of books that you read throughout the year. I love seeing unschoolers’ work. I have seen some of the most creative ideas and projects!

Please note this blog article does not constitute any legal advice, but rather helps you determine what type of evaluation process you would like to pursue.  I am not a lawyer, nor do I play the role of one on TV. 🙂

On Your Mark. Get Set…

Go! We are off on a year of home schooling. Planning makes all the difference in the world in having a successful school year! Here are some questions to consider when you begin this year:

 What are your expectations for your student(s)?

What is your plan to get there?

Do you have a schedule for your school? How do you have textbooks, curriculum, and paperwork organized?

What type of support do you have to help make your school year successful?

When thinking of expectations for your student consider academic goals. Some that come to mind would be learning to read (younger students), writing a book report (middle school student), understanding and doing  mathematical operations before beginning algebra (junior high student), or dissecting specimens for biology (senior high student). List expectations for each subject area.

Don’t forget character traits and habits as part of your goals. Do you have a student who procrastinates, or is messy, or doesn’t complete tasks on time? Write down one area that you’d like to see your student improve in this year. Provide a plan, practice, patience and extreme amounts of encouragement to help them succeed. Once they have succeeded in that area, you can add another habit you’d like him/her to establish. Warning: Don’t overemphasize this, but work diligently on helping and give ginormous amounts of praise when you see progress. 🙂

Planning is a key to success in your homeschool. It doesn’t need to be a lesson plan book, but creating a system that will keep you on track will help you achieve the goals you establish for your school year. Besides lesson plan books you could create a journal of goals and ideas or you can have a spreadsheet. Pick something that fits your personality and teaching style.

Keep a master schedule for your school day. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can be relaxed, but the downfall can also be the same.  Here are some ideas to consider: What time will you start school? What time will you eat lunch? What time do you plan on finishing school? When my children were in elementary school we began very early because they were early risers. The rule was to be dressed, beds made, and breakfast eaten by the time we began. I didn’t want any excuses to be in the refrigerator or getting up from the table to do other non-school related activities once our school day began. As they got older and wanted to sleep in, I adjusted our time to start later. (8:30 or 9:00)

Do you have other outside activities throughout the week? Keeping a calendar of those activities helps you to say yes or no to extra things you might want to do. School is the priority, so be sure not to add a lot of extras that will keep you running during the week. I noticed that I was hurrying my boys through their schoolwork so we could go to co-op, sports activities, friends’ houses, and church programs. Life became harried and stressful for all of us. I had to learn that less is more. I had to stop and consider what was best for our school day before “adding one more thing.” A good piece of advice I have received is what do I drop if I add another activity? I am still working on that one!

Organizing all of your curriculum and paperwork will help you stay focused and not feeling overwhelmed. If you could see my kitchen table and school desk right now you’d say, “Sister, take your own advice!” I am actually going to spend part of today organizing my “stuff”  because I am feeling out of sorts with the amount of things I have pulled out to teach my junior high classes and tutoring.

Clutter can make me feel that I am out of control. Having a place for everything saves time and creates a much more peaceful environment. Find somewhere to store your things first and then find a place that is accessible to your children so they can put their books and papers away. Give them the responsibility of putting their school books and papers in their place (within reason, of course). Even little ones can have a box to put away their toys so that you aren’t cleaning up after everyone.  After all, our goal is for them to be independent.

Some ideas to help with organizing is to have plastic bins called workboxes. Each child has their own labeled box with their textbooks, binders and supplies. Each night you put their work for the next day in there and each day they get it out/ return items to their workbox. Create a separate place for papers to be graded if you assign independent work. You can file papers after you have graded and discussed any problems with the work your child may have missed. A hanging folder system works nicely with each folder either labeled according to subject or month so that when you have a portfolio review next spring it is as simple as gathering the folders together and putting them in a box/bag for your appointment.

What kind of support do you have with homeschooling? Homeschooling can be hard. There, I said it! I know because I homeschooled my boys through their compulsory years of education and have the t-shirt to prove  it. (Not really the t-shirt.) What kind of support do you have for the days where the little yellow school bus looks enticing? Find a support group or a person who will listen and encourage you with the decision you made to homeschool. It really makes all the difference when you can call and talk about school issues. If you don’t know anyone that is in your area, do an internet search for state homeschool organizations and contact them. Chances are there is someone close by who is homeschooling. You can email me and I’ll be glad to send you a note of encouragement!

Have a great week!


Clarifying the Notification Process

I wanted to address some confusion I have noticed with items 6 and 7 on the required annual Notification Form. They are two separate areas so I want to discuss this. Item 6 states you are to include “a brief outline of intended curriculum” while item 7 states you are to include “a list of textbooks and other basic teaching materials” along with a few other items. A brief outline (item 6) means that you are to list topics you intend to cover for the year in each subject area whereas item 7 requires to list the actual materials you plan on using for instruction. Here is a sample of what you can send to the superintendent. I also have more examples that you can use as a reference listed in a previous post. (Filling out the notification form)

Amazing Adam Atoms 20___- 20___ Academic Year


Language Arts

Curriculum Topics (Item 6)

Reading fluency and comprehension

Oral reading Spelling Workout

Writing short stories

Parts of speech, grammar

Textbooks, other curricula (Item 7)

Easy Grammar- Wanda Phillips

Grammar Usage Mechanics-Spelling Modern Curriculum Press

Various library books and curricula- Amelia Bedelia, Henry and Mudge


Social Studies

Curriculum Topics

Holidays and festivals

Patriotic celebrations

Communities in other lands:

past and present

Textbooks, other curricula

Early American History-Rea Berg

Various library books and curricula-American History

If You Lived During Viking Times



Curriculum Topics

Addition facts

Subtraction facts



Textbooks, other curricula

Mathematics, Bob Jones University Press



Curriculum Topics


Solar System


Textbook, other curricula

Primarily Plants, AIMS Activities

Space Exploration Fun Kit, Dover Publications

NASA website



Curriculum Topics


Prevention of communicable diseases

Textbooks, other curricula

Various library books-

Dinosaurs Alive and Well! Laurie Kransky Brown

My Body, Patricia Carratello


Physical Education

Curriculum Topics

Physical fitness

Outdoor activities


Textbook, other curricula

Health, Safety, Manners- ABeka Books

Gym and Swim program YMCA

Upwards Basketball


Fine Arts

Curriculum Topics

Studying various musicians and artists

Textbooks, other curricula

Various library books and CD’s-

Beethoven Lives Upstairs

Come Look with Me,Lucy Micklethwaite

Cincinnati Art Museum


First Aid, Safety, Fire Prevention

Curriculum Topics

Basic first aid

Fire safety

Bicycle safety

Textbooks, other curricula

Various library books- Dinosaurs Beware, Laurie Kransky Brown

Cub Scouts

Fire safety program

I hope this helps you with the notification process. Please note this does not constitute any legal advice as I am not a lawyer, nor do I play the role of one on TV. 🙂