Ever wonder how the tradition of giving a shiny, red apple to the teacher on the first day of school was started? Some people think the practice began during the 19th century when poor farming families paid teachers with food, such as potatoes and apples. Another possibility results from the incorrect telling of the Genesis account of Adam and Eve eating an "apple" from the Tree of Knowledge. Since teachers offer knowledge to students, apples (as the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge) are the perfect symbol. Others think the tradition was started as a simple gift because of the good health associated with this tasty fruit. Although the actual origin is not known for sure, the apple still remains a symbol of appreciation for teachers who plant academic seeds that grow forever in a child's mind.

Like teachers from the past, homeschooling parents today also appreciate special words of kindness and acts of love from their children. Though we may not find an apple waiting for us on the first day of school, we do receive immeasurable blessings from our children in other ways throughout the entire school year. Homemade trinkets, precious love notes filled with hand-drawn hearts, poems, or flowers, and thoughtfulness expressed in the form of surprise birthday breakfasts or unexpected kisses are some of the greatest treasures a homeschooling parent can receive. In fact, most every homeschool parent has more than one story to tell about the nice things their children have done for them.

One of my favorite stories occurred one day as I struggled with finishing the day's tasks. Unexpected interruptions had left dishes piled in the kitchen sink, laundry unfolded on the couch, toys scattered throughout the house, and school work activities waiting to be graded on the table. Looking at the clock, the time shouted 8:30 p.m. Wishing for a miracle, I sat down and sighed. Apparently, my spent look must have touched my young children's hearts. Without uttering a word, my eight-year-old daughter happily started the dishes, while my six-year-old son started folding clothes and giving directions to his younger siblings to put away the toys. I'll never forget how grateful I was to conquer the extra chores in less than 30 minutes, instead of facing two long hours of work before bed.

What's your favorite homeschool teacher appreciation story? Perhaps there was a time when your child spent his hard-earned money to buy you a gift, crafted the perfect mother/father's day card, or told his friends that you were the best mom/dad in the world. Whatever the circumstance, other homeschool parents will find encouragement from your "apples" of appreciation. To share your story on the Homeschool Blog at Alpha Omega Publications, simply submit your comments below.