Education in Nebraska, Part one: Homeschool
Like shopping around for a house, many parents shop around for the best education for their children.
"I love homeschooling because it really allows me to excel in things," said Eleanor Hajda.
The Hajda family of Custer County has been homeschooling their children for over 25 years.
"I thought it was a good match for our family and some of our family goals," said Lisa Hajda.
Lisa Hajda, a mother of ten, started off homeschooling her oldest daughters Amelia and Clara.
"They both have their bachelor degrees,” said Lisa.
Now that Amelia and Clara are married with children, they're now also homeschooling their kids.
Amelia says she enjoys being at home to experience her children's "firsts.”
"I do like to see the progress that they're making. I like to be a part of that, and when they make a big leap on learning how to read or when they learn their multiplication tables. I'm very excited to be there because that's a big part of their little lives," said Amelia.
But how many parents actually know physics, chemistry, and calculus?
Lisa says she and her husband's knowledge on various subjects reassured them that they would be great teachers to their daughters.
"We completed our Master's degree and then we were working on our doctorates in education when we first started homeschooling, and I do think that has helped to a degree, but I don't think that's necessary for every parent that home schools," said Lisa.
According to the Nebraska Department of Education for the 2016-2017 school year, home schooled students totaled nearly 9,000 in all but one of our 93 counties.
This school year, 362 students were homeschooled in Buffalo and Hall Counties.
"Home schools can be very powerful. If we go back far enough in history, basically a lot of the wealthy people were homeschooled by tutors," said HPS Superintendent Craig Kautz.
A common stereotype for homeschooled children is that they may not be as social as others their age.
However, Lisa disagrees and says all of her daughters have outgoing personalities.
"There's so many opportunities for home schoolers to participate in community events. We always went to nursing homes and shared our music. My siblings participated in community theatre," said Amelia.
Clara, who says she's very social, believes she wouldn't have done as well in her academics if she was part of a traditional classroom setting.
"My social desires may have been a problem being in a public school situation. It may have compromised my academic studies because I may have been more focused on being out and being with friends," said Clara.
Another big plus is being able to implement religion in their studies.
"Always having that religious look on things always make things so much more interesting," Eleanor.
Now many parents may wonder how effective home schooling can really be, but Superintendent Kautz says that's really for the individual to determine.
"People have different measures. I look at college graduations," said Kautz.
Clara and Amelia, both college graduates, say although they were home schooled up to college, they feel they were well prepared.
But what may be best for one family may not always be a good fit for another.
The Hajda family says homeschooling their children has brought the family together.