Laying down those rails - Mother's good habits can make putting together your child's portfolio less stressful and more enjoyable.
Max and I are both learning much this year. Organization and thorough documentation make for smoother roads in putting together a portfolio. Each day not logged in my school calendar, every narration or math review that I didn't date, clearly shows those lapses that prevented habits such as accuracy and thoroughness (yes, those same habits I am trying to instill in my children) from becoming second nature in me.
Document everything, immediately - I am learning to write down each concert attended and every museum visit as they happen. Just because a field trip was unforgettable, does not mean I won't forget it. By keeping a running list of books Max has read in free time or family time I have ended up with a surprisingly weighty list that could have easily been overlooked. If you haven't been diligent in this area, your librarian may be able to print out a list of items checked out for the year.
Thankfully, we do take lots of pictures so I have been able to look back at our photos and "reconstruct" those four weeks in New York City where we did so much and I wrote down so little. Photographs are also great ways to document items that could never fit into a portfolio. For example, I have a picture of the large, laminated map Max used to show Paddle-to-the-Sea's voyage through the Great Lakes during his Geography exam, as well as photos of his handicrafts.
I started the year out by handwriting narrations in a notebook kept in a three-ring binder with our schedule. Every so often, I would clear an evening to type them out. I now type Max's narrations out as he is speaking them in a dated narration log for each book (I do not require narration of each passage read). Each of these documents is kept in a folder by subject within a larger "Homeschool 08-09" folder housed on my computer's desktop. I now only have to write the narration once and, since I type faster than I write, I no longer have to interrupt a lively narration just to catch up.
Blog posts are also handy for picking the "best of" from each term for a portfolio. It has occurred to me that keeping even a slightly more conscientious web log of our home education might make the portfolio process simpler next year. Though I haven't personally tried it, you can turn your blog into a portfolio with sites such as Blurb.com and easily have additional copies made for the grandparents.
Charlotte Mason says habits begin as a cobweb and end as a cable. By developing our own habits of accuracy and thoroughness in the keeping of home school records, we won't have a mess to untangle at the end of the year but an enjoyable time choosing what to include in our child's portfolio.
Power comes by doing and not by resolving, and it is habit that serves us, whether it be the habit of Latin verse or of carving. Also, and this is a delightful thing to remember, every time we do a thing helps to form the habit of doing it; and to do a thing a hundred times without missing a chance, makes the rest easy.
Charlotte Mason Vol. 4 p. 209