Amy Pruitt decided to homeschool her first-grader, Austin, for one year and enjoyed how it offered him more stimulation and flexibility than a traditional educational environment.
That was 22 years ago.
Homeschooling became a lifestyle for the Highland Park family.
All five of her children – Austin, Taylor, Chandler, Stanton, and Sterling, so named after Texas towns – have graduated with high accolades.
“Basically, our entire life is about learning,” Pruitt said. “I see in my now-adult children, a lifelong desire to learn.”
Pruitt and her husband, Bryan, both high school valedictorians who went on to receive medical degrees, valued academics, and had a passion for teaching.
Because homeschooling was not considered mainstream, Pruitt preferred to call it “parent-directed education.” She created a structure with matching uniforms and a designated classroom inside their home.
Homeschooling’s flexibility enabled Pruitt to tailor the curriculum to each child’s learning style and talents. For example, her oldest son, Austin, “could spend hours composing and writing music.”
It also allowed the family to travel and volunteer together, “without being tied to a school calendar,” Pruitt said.
“Basically, our entire life is about learning.” -Amy Pruitt
“We’ve taken American history trips when we studied American history. We went to the Alamo when we studied Texas history. We traveled to Europe together to see Rome, London, Venice, Paris after studying the corresponding histories,” she said.
Although teaching five children could get hectic, it fostered mutual support.
“Every now and then, I would walk into the schoolroom, and my older daughter would be helping my little one with math, or my older daughter would be reading to a little one who was distracting me while I was working with one of the other children,” Pruitt said.
Contrary to homeschooling misconceptions, they still got involved in clubs and sports.
The Homeschool Athletic Association allowed them to compete against Hockaday, Greenhill, Trinity Christian, and St. Mark’s. Her two sons became Eagle Scouts. Her daughters were elected representatives of the Youth and Government program and supported philanthropic efforts through the National Charity League.
All earned academic scholarships and, having taken AP and dual credit classes, started at Harding University, a Christian liberal arts school in Arkansas, with 4.0 GPAs and over 30 hours of college credit.
Austin, 29, is a professional pianist. Taylor, 27, is halfway through medical school at UT Southwestern. Chandler, 24, is in her second year of dental school at The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston. Stanton, 20, an accounting major, also plans on going to dental school. The youngest, Sterling, 18, plans to attend medical school.
Pruitt said she feels “a deep sense of satisfaction and pride” and plans to help other parents in their homeschooling journeys.
According to the Texas Homeschool Coalition, more than 300,000 Texas children are homeschooled, with a 7% annual growth rate.
Her advice? Take homeschooling one school year at a time, not being afraid to seek help along the way from the available resources and parents who are going through a similar process.