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Catching Up on Your Child’s Academic Portfolio

08.26.2013, by Susan Conolly

Written by Becky Cullinan
I have to confess that, while I spend a lot of time teaching parents how to be more organized, I hadn’t organized my children’s class work from this past year.  It seems like a great item to check off of our back to school list!  I know that organizing the kids’ schoolwork can seem overwhelming and maybe pointless, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Having a portfolio of your children’s work is important for a few reasons.  It reflects where your child is academically, and how far they have come. As military families, we transition often.  Whether you are PCSing, moving off or on post, or just changing schools, having a concrete sample of your child’s work shows the teacher exactly where your student is academically, and where he/she needs to improve.  This could take weeks through observations in the classroom, or minutes by looking through the beautifully organized portfolio that you put together in just a few minutes each week!  A portfolio lets the new teacher know what material has been covered, and can reduce the risk of your child missing an important item.  What if reading clocks is taught at the beginning of the year in your new school, and at the end of the year in your old school?  Your child could miss out on this important skill unless the teacher realizes before it becomes an issue.

I had a big pile of mixed up papers from two of my school-aged children. (I have two more kiddos who aren’t in school quite yet!)  The one thing I had been good about was sifting out the “junk” that came home, and only keeping papers that showed what they were actually learning in school.

Here’s a little back story in case you think I am a heartless paper thrower outer: my own mother is the most organized hoarder of children’s school papers in the entire world.  She saved and filed every single paper that my sister, my brother and I brought home from Kindergarten through 12th grade.  When she moved to the town where I live, I was unpleasantly surprised to have six huge legal boxes of papers delivered to my garage.  There was no way I was going to go through them – nor did they mean anything to me.  I didn’t remember making a glitter handprint in 2nd grade.  All those “treasures” went in the trash – or probably the recycle bin – at least let’s hope they got recycled!

That’s not where I want to end up! So, back to organizing.  The connect the dots and coloring pages had been properly disposed of prior to beginning this process.  If your pile contains this “junk,” don’t worry about it.  The sorting out step is coming!

The first thing I did was sort the papers into three piles: one for each of the school-aged kids, and one for the pre-schoolers.

After that, I sorted through each pile, and only kept the “important” papers.  This will vary from person to person, and there is no right answer. If it’s important to you, keep it!  This picture only shows one of the portfolios being created, so there’s only one keep and one throw away pile.


I found two plastic folders with three hole punch brackets in them.  My son brought them home from school at the end of the year, but you can find them at any big box store for less than a dollar.  I tried my best to organize them in chronological order starting with the beginning of the year, and then I hole punched them, and put them in the folders.  A great reason to use folders is that they only hold so much - you really have to be selective.  I made a copy of the end of the year report card, and put it right on top. I wrote the name, year, grade, teacher and school name on the outside of the folder with a marker.  Easy to read!




At the end of an hour, this is what I had – two organized folders that are easily stored or filed, and are easy to access. A bonus - I have a clean dresser, and I found two dollars of book fair change in an envelope buried in the pile of papers!  All in all, a very productive evening…and I did this all in one night while putting four kids to bed by myself!  In other words, it’s not as hard as it looks. I’ll publish another post on how to manage your portfolio throughout the year in just a few minutes a week.

Thanks for reading!