step 3

Tips for creating your CDA portfolio


Your CDA portfolio constitutes an important part of the evidence towards your CDA credential. Your Professional Development Specialist (PDS) will look through your portfolio during the verification visit (which includes your two-hour observation). Your portfolio creates your first impression for your PDS. You want your portfolio to look as professional as you truly are.

Tips in general

  • Do type your portfolio materials. Do not hand-write them.
  • Use a conventional font, like Times New Roman or Ariel or Helvetica. Use the same font throughout.
  • Use black type on white paper. You want your PDS to look at what you wrote, not at the color of your paper or your fancy font.
  • Beware of spelling errors. Run spell-check.
  • Make sure your writing is clear and uses good grammar. Watch out for run-on sentences and incomplete thoughts.
  • Organize your portfolio in order of each Competency, using the dividers to separate one Competency from the next.

Ask us to review the written parts of your portfolio, looking for and correcting errors.

It's part of your Video 120 CDA package.

Tips for your Resource Collections

  • Follow the instructions in your competency standards book for Resource Collections associated with each Competency.
  • Read the instructions carefully, since sometimes important information is a sentence or two in. Make certain you have all the elements and the correct number of elements.
  • Make certain that pre-printed materials are up-to-date. This is especially important for your First Aid certification.
  • For elements you will write up (such as lesson ideas), follow the Tips in general and watch out for errors. Make a good first impression for your PDS.
  • For elements you will include as pre-printed additions (such as record forms), print on standard-size copy paper and insert either by three-hole punching the edge or by inserting in a clear page protector.
  • Materials inserted into page protectors must be visible to a reader without removing the material from the page protector. This means you should avoid inserting multiple pages behind each other within a single page protector. One exception to this rule is your Parent Surveys; because your PDS will not read each of these, you may put them all in a single page protector.
  • Clearly label each Resource Collection item so your PDS can see that you have completed it.
  • Use the checklist to make certain you have completed all the Resource Collection items.

Tips for your Competency Statements

  • Competency Statements usually are to include a general paragraph at the beginning, followed by one or more specific statements (labeled with a letter, such as "IVa"). Remember to write the beginning statement and then each of the lettered statements.
  • Write Competency Statements in the present or past tense, not in the future tense. Tell what you do or have done, not what you will do. Your CDA credential endorses the teacher you are now, not the teacher you intend to become.
  • Pay careful attention to the Competency Statement instructions, so you are certain you have presented what each Competency Statement asks for.
  • Use what you have learned in completing your Video 120 CDA course in writing your Competency Statements, since that course reflects best practices in early childhood.
  • Follow the Tips in general and watch out for errors. Make a good first impression for your PDS.
  • Insert the Competency Statements behind the appropriate divider in your portfolio. It is best if these pages are not inserted into a sheet protector, but if you want to use sheet protectors for these statements, make certain the statements can be read in their entirety without removing them from the protector.
  • Clearly label each Competency Statement so your PDS can see you have completed it.
  • Use the checklist to make certain you have completed all the Competency Statements.

Tips for your Philosophy Statement

  • This essay should run between one-and-a-half and two pages, typed, double-spaced.
  • One way to organize this is:
    • Begin by describing how you got into the early childhood profession.
    • Talk a bit about people who have influenced you in your early childhood work.
    • Describe three or more concepts that you believe are of top importance in working with children and families.
    • Describe how these concepts are included in your daily practice.
    • Wrap up with where you see yourself going in your early childhood career.
    • End with a strong statement of commitment to the profession or to children and families.
  • Follow the Tips in general and watch out for errors. Make a good first impression for your PDS.
  • Clearly label your Philosophy Statement, so your PDS can see you have completed it.
  • Insert the Philosophy Statement behind a divider at the end of your portfolio.


Can I get creative?

Yes and no. The portfolio is a written document, so you cannot create this in another medium (like video or a website). And your PDS will expect to see a portfolio in a three-ring binder, not in some other form. In general, it's best to offer what your PDS is expecting, instead of something different. Making your portfolio a conventional, type-written document with various Resource Collection items added in will keep your PDS from feeling surprised or confused, and really will be simplest and quickest for you to produce. 

That being said, the most amazing portfolio I have seen in my work as a PDS was one in a three-ring binder but with full-color photos interspersed as a collage with the written Competency Statements and Resource Collection elements. It was amazingly attractive and displayed the candidate's creativity as much as it displayed her knowledge. This portfolio could be used by the candidate after her CDA was completed as a display for parents. But, in general, conventional is best and easiest and all that is needed.

Do you have any example portfolios I can see?

Alas, we do not. Portfolios belong to the candidates who create them and so cannot be presented here as examples. If you know someone who has completed a CDA, you might ask to see his or her portfolio, or ask for advice in creating yours.

How do I ask you to edit my portfolio?

First, complete all of the Video 120 CDA requirements, including the Required Content and Activities and your Elective Courses. We can only edit a portfolio after you have completed this work.

Then, email your portfolio file to us as an attachment in Microsoft Word. Be sure to label the portfolio items clearly (as you will in your portfolio) so we can tell one piece from another. Include only your own writing, not Resource Collection items like forms, surveys, or web pages. 

We can only make one edit of your work, so be sure to send us your complete file, not pieces of it individually.

Allow at least one week (7 days) for editing. We will return the file to you with corrections or suggestions. It is up to you to decide to make these changes or not.