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Work samples are an important step in homeschool record keeping. In this article, you will learn what are work samples, how to and why collect them. You will also learn all the best practices of collecting, organizing and storing your samples in order to have a complete homeschool record.

What Are Work Samples

Work samples will be samples from everything you used for your homeschool that year.  They will be things like writing samples, math samples, language arts samples, science, and social studies samples.

They can also be images of homeschool activities (exploding volcanoes) and even videos (field trips or even reading comprehension examples)! With work samples, you can get your students involved by allowing them to choose some of the work they will want to remember from this point in their homeschool journey. Of course, as the teacher, you will choose the ones you desire to save as well.

Why Collect work samples

Work samples, are a part of homeschool record keeping and a very important part of your homeschool journey.

Since collecting work samples are a part of good record keeping, some of the same rules apply, such as:

  • If you live in a state that requires you to collect and turn in your homeschool records, work samples will be a big part of these records. Especially if your homeschool requires the review from an evaluator, who meets personally with you and your students. They will often review your students’ academic progress by looking at work samples inside of your records or portfolios.
  • Know your states requirements here.
  • For memories: you are keeping precious homeschool memories to look back on.
  • In case you need them for legal reasons, or emergencies where you must send your child to public schooling.
  • Don’t forget that records help monitor your homeschooling progress. You can discover what works best for your student and what doesn’t work. They help you create goals so you can move forward with the best game plan.
  • Work samples give your student feedback on how they are doing. Especially high school students who need to keep track of everything for their transcripts.

How to collect work samples

Collecting homeschool work samples is a little different than collecting your homeschool records. This is because you must plan when to go about the collection process. Do you want to collect samples monthly, quarterly, by semester, or everything at the end of the school year. Again, this will depend on what’s required by you in your state or homeschool program.

You can collect works samples in two methods:

Method 1: By file

For this collection method, you are creating a single file of all the things you want to add to your students work samples. This file, which can be a basic manila envelope and will go into the main homeschool record or portfolio.

Start by grouping work into subjects: English (language arts, reading, writing, spelling), Math, Social Studies, and Science. Then add any other class work samples, like secondary languages, etc.

Include tests, but also remember, “It is really easy and tempting to just collect the best of everything, but it’s not a real reflection of your students’ progress and will cheat them out of the homeschool experience, which includes one-on-one learning, tailored curriculums, and advancement.

Observe the subjects most challenging to your students, revisit, and engage in conversations about their learning to deepen their understanding.”

Organized homeschool file, Method 1

Method 2: Digitally

This method is a personal favorite and the best method if you are not a fan of clutter. It is also similar to what I described in “How To Collect Homeschool Records And Why You Need To.

Using the digital method, you can gather more conclusive samples because you can include a lot more. These files can be compressed and stored where they cannot be damaged in fires, floods, or any other natural disaster.

Since these samples will be within your homeschool records, you can store them within the cloud for faster reference, homeschool drive, or any other virtual storage system you decide to use, dedicated to homeschooling records storage. You can also store your homeschool drive in a safe or file cabinet.

Using Image Samples

Image samples are perfect if you enjoy doing method 2 and collecting your samples digitally. This is one of the reasons that this method is the best by allowing you to gather more conclusive samples because you can include a lot more.

You can start by taking photographs of the covers of your curriculum and books.

Group books into desired sections. This way you have a clear view of exactly what you used, authors, etc. Also photograph any curriculum or books you ended up not using or finishing, so you can document along the way, and avoid for the next year, or decide to use them later.

Take images of any of your students completed notebooks, getting the covers that include labels to what these notebooks were used for, and their name. Opening them up to get some of their best and not so good work.

Scan photos of their tests, assignments, reading logs, awards, certificates, and report cards.

Student doing his homeschool work. an example of an image sample

Label images and artwork within the pdf. PDF editors usually have a commenting tool, use this to your advantage.

If you don’t have a scanner, many phones can acess scanner apps, in which you can take a picture of your documents, and the scanner apps allow you to manipulate it and even convert into pdfs.

If you are collecting image samples for method 1, you will most likely print these images and store them in a file, inserting them into your homeschool records.

Using Video Samples

Video samples are also perfect if you enjoy doing method 2 and collecting your samples digitally. This is another one of the reasons that this method is the best. If you were to add a video sample into method one, you need to create and store a DVD.

If desired, add in videos from your homeschool journey. You will include notes about the videos purpose, such as what’s being seen, who is in the video, and details about the assignment, if any.

If you struggle with adding videos to your pdf’s, consult the user manual, or link to videos in your storage system, YouTube, or Vimeo.

How To Organize Your Samples

The last step is organizing your work samples. This will be easy when storing your files digitally. Just like when you captured the images in the section above, you will group your work samples the same way.

Organize samples into subjects: English (language arts, reading, writing, spelling), Math, Social Studies, and Science. Then add any other class work samples, like secondary languages, etc.

Under each subject, include everything you want as a sample under that subject. For example, if you took images of your students language arts textbook, you would group all language arts samples after it and vice versa.

Next, put any tests (if any) for those same subjects after the work samples. This will all be demonstrated in the pdf I provided as a sample below.

Feel free to download the pdf to help you get an idea of how to organize your work samples.

If you use method 1, you will organize your work samples in the very same way.

In conclusion

Collecting work samples can be an easy task if you plan and mark dates in which you will collect them. It can be daunting if you do not plan and some of the work you wanted to save is lost.

There are two methods used in collecting work samples, both ways are good, however, keeping your files digital will give you much more flexibility.

I have put together a sample of a digital work sample for your convenience. I hope this helps you organize and collect the best samples. If you have any questions, please contact me or email me directly at

Work Sample Demonstration

If you need help using this eBook sample, visit its page.

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