A Letter I Wrote to Natalie: End of 7th Grade at Applewood School

Applewood Schoolhouse

Dear Natalie,

We have completed our first year of home schooling and all I can say is:  I have learned so much and had so much fun with you!  We had many reasons for “skipping middle school.”  We also got a variety of different reactions, some very funny, when we told people what we were doing.  Most importantly, this was one of the best decisions we have made not only for you, but also for us as a family.

I want to share with you some moments that have made my heart smile.

When I peek out your bedroom window and see you tending your vegetable garden with such care and attention, I know we made the right decision.  You like to start your day in the garden before diving into lessons, research and writing, and projects. I admire the knowledge you have gained on your own about watering techniques, the growth cycle of green beans and corn, the beneficial companion herbs and flowers that can detract insects or nourish the soil, and your personal connection to each plant.  I have always been tentative in the garden, not knowing where to begin.  And so you make feel a bit bolder about trying some planting myself.  Gardening, I think, is a slow art.  It requires empty time, quiet time, calm time.  Rushing doesn’t make sense in a garden.  I think it is quite possible that you would not have discovered your love of gardening had it not been for our home schooling, as the schedule and the structure of the regular school schedule would not have allowed the time for it.

You figured out that the ideal time for practicing piano and voice was after your gardening time.  This was when your energy was still clear from the day’s distractions.  With a mixture of discipline and joy, you sat down at the piano and warmed up and practiced your piano pieces and songs.

Your gardening and music time allowed me time to take care of a few of my own tasks at the start of the day, which helped me then focus on our lessons.  One of my wonderings when we started the school year was whether I would be able to get any of my own work done. I did some days.  Other days, I didn’t and it was fine because I was enjoying myself and learning so much.  Because of you, I had the chance to go back to middle school a second time and see that it could be so much fun.  Thank you for allowing me to accompany you on this amazing adventure.  I know you feel like you’re learning a lot, but I want you to know that I’m learning so much from you.


“Ms. Mommy”

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