F or more than 25 years, Big Country Home Educators (BCHE) has supported home school families of the Big Country. Located in Abilene, Texas, we offer homeschool families in the area multiple enrichment opportunities through academic and elective co-op classes, fine arts, archery, field trips and special events.
BCHE is a Christian organization, and board members/leadership sign a statement of faith. There is no faith requirement or affiliation required for membership, and members are not asked to sign any statement of faith, but should understand that all parts of BCHE operate on scriptural Christian principles and values. Whether you are brand new to homeschooling, or a veteran, we can help you find friends and resources to enhance your home school life. If you live in West Texas, and are a home educator, we would love to provide you with more information about our group.
BCHE is a non-profit (501(c)3), Christian organization, led by an elected board of volunteers. Most activities through BCHE require membership. Family membership runs from June 1st through May 31st, and covers those living within your household for whom you are parent or legal guardian.
Purpose & Mission
Big Country Home Educators is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of home education in Taylor County Texas and the surrounding area. BCHE will, through its endeavors, provide a resource to prospective, new, and seasoned home educators to help them navigate the journey they have chosen.
The vision of Big Country Home Educators (BCHE) is to support the efforts of Christian home educators by disseminating information of interest and pooling relevant resources in order to provide supplemental educational opportunities. We will also provide avenues for fellowship, encouragement, and the exchange of ideas among our member families through our various sponsored activities.
New to Homeschooling?
Let us take a minute to let you know how thrilled we are about your journey into teaching your children at home. Home education provides a door to a world of opportunities for knowledge, character development, family time, and the building of your child’s self esteem. Your homeschool will be unlike any other in that you have the ability to tailor the design, schedule, curriculum, and organization of your school to fit the needs of your students.
The next question that arises is…how? There isn’t a simple answer, correct formula, or perfect way to home school. If your children are learning then you are doing it right!
Please take a minute to look through the information provided on these pages. One important element of every home school is enrichment activities. That’s where BCHE comes in!
With BCHE, you can expect opportunities to fellowship, learn, and share with other families through field trips, classes, peer activities for all ages, and mentoring. We also offer the chance for students to participate in opportunities that are easier and more fun in a group setting, such as graduations, science & history fair, Scripps spelling bee, National Honor Society, student council, middle school banquet, Prom, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can join?
Big Country families who are currently home educating at least one student (between preschool and high school) in a bona fide manner according to Texas law are welcome to join.
Businesses, advertisers, and groups are not allowed to join Big Country Home Educators but might be interested in advertising opportunities to reach our members.
What does membership cost?
BCHE membership is an annual fee of $78.00 per family, and a membership year runs from June 1st through May 31st.
What are the requirements for membership?
- BCHE members agree to follow the BCHE handbook for code of conduct for their children.
- Members must volunteer two times a year.
- Members must understand that BCHE is a uniquely Christian group, and we will make decisions based on our Statement of Faith.
- Members must be in good standing having made all payments to BCHE timely, and not be in violation of the code of conduct, or membership will be revoked.
What are the benefits of being a member?
- As a member, you have access to all public and member events.
- Most public events with an entrance fee are free to members—you’ve already paid the entrance fee with your membership!
- BCHE works with community partners and non-profits to secure special cost-effective opportunities for families.
Why do I have to register for each event?
In order to properly plan events, it is often necessary to know who will be attending in order to have enough room, supplies, food, chaperones, etc. It is very difficult to prepare without numbers and can lead to wasted time and resources.
Many of our field trip hosts require numbers in advance and we frequently have a maximum capacity.
How do I cancel an event? Will there be a refund?
- Go to the website and click on Events, and then Cancel. Complete the form and submit.
- Refunds are handled on a case by case basis, depending on the event/activity.
Who can attend member events?
- Unless an even says, “Open to the Public”, it is a private, members only event.
- In general, siblings should not attend with an older/younger sibling, unless they are of the appropriate age and also registered to attend.
- Families who also have public/private school kids are welcome to bring them along to family events, like (give examples), but they are not eligible for age-specific events/classes.
Why is there an extra fee for events? Doesn’t my membership fee cover it?
The BCHE board follows an annual budget that seeks to use membership funds and donations wisely in providing key opportunities and events for members.
Also, membership fees cover the logistical expenses of running a non-profit organization such as website fees, insurance, venues, etc.
Why do I have to sign children in and out of events?
- Insurance requirements state that we must know how many children and which children are at each event. For this reason, all families are required to register for every event.
- In addition, this allows chaperones to know that no student can leave an event on their own without their parent or an approved guardian present.
Statement of Faith
Is membership required for Monday Co-Op participation?
Yes, Monday Co-Op participation can only be accessed by member families.
How does it work?
Monday Co-Op offers classes for K-12 students, and families can choose from a-la-carte or all-day registration. Co-Op participation includes a volunteer requirement, in addition to the membership volunteer requirement. For full details, see the Monday Co-Op page on the website.
What is the cost?
The cost of classes varies. Please visit the co-op classes page for more information.
Behavior and Dress Code
Does BCHE have a dress code?
Yes. We seek to create an atmosphere in which all we do, including the way we dress, honors God and others. We ask that all members and event attendees (both parents and students) alike dress modestly and conservatively, out of consideration for others.
Certain events may have additional dress code requirements.
Examples of inappropriate clothing would be:
Women/Girls: Strapless/halter/spaghetti straps; tight form-fitting clothing; low cut clothing that exposes cleavage; shorts, skirts, and dresses that are well above the knee; low rise pants, unless a long shirt covers any exposed skin; any clothing that exposes the mid-riff; any clothing that features alcohol, drugs, or profanity; clothing that allows exposure of underclothing.
Men/Boys: Tight/form-fitting clothing; clothing that exposes the mid-riff; baggy pants that expose underclothing; shirts that expose the chest; any clothing that features alcohol, drugs, or profanity.
Students/families who do not honor dress/behavior codes will be gently and privately reminded, given the opportunity to correct any issues. Continued disrespect may result in loss of registration or membership privileges.
When do I pay for an event or co-op class?
- All payments are due at the time of registration. Members who do not pay for events will have their membership suspended, and then revoked for non-payment.
- If you need a payment plan for co-op, an application will need to be completed, so the Board can make a decision based on the reason given for requesting a payment plan. This does not mean that every application will be accepted.
What kind of payments do you take?
We accept debit and credit card payments through PayPal, and we only refund or send money through PayPal.
Can I just write a check or bring cash with me?
No, all events must be registered for by the deadline, and payments made prior to attending classes or events.
Is It Legal?
Yes! Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. Some states have more regulations than others. Check your state’s regulations to make sure. The Home School Legal Defense Association at www.hslda.org gives a summary of regulations by state.
Texas is one of the most homeschool friendly states in the union for home schoolers. In Texas, we love our home schooling freedom!
What About Socialization?
The truth is, that there are hundreds of thousands of students being homeschooled in Texas alone. There are homeschool support groups offering activities in every major and even in the smaller population areas. The State homeschool basketball tournament is one of the largest in the nation. If you avail yourself of even all that just BCHE has to offer, you’ll not have time to teach!
Because of the stigma of this question, parents new to homeschooling may try to sign their children up for too many activities. It is easy to get overwhelmed with “going and doing”. Relax. Your child and/or children will be fine.
How do I teach high school science, math, etc?
There are many ways for your child to get the courses he/she needs to complete high school.
• Homeschool Co-Op: Parents come together and agree to teach a subject or two in exchange for their child (children) attending. This usually meets once per week. BCHE offers classes each Fall and Spring in a co-op style setting just for high school aged students.
• Tutors: There are many people who specialize or have degrees in the subject(s) you need. Although this tends to be more expensive, it is a very viable option.
• Video Schools: Both Bob Jones University Press, ABeka Curriculum, among others, offer videos for High school subjects. One drawback is that in many cases, you can only use them for one child. There are numerous FREE resources on-line at your disposal to aid as well.
• Exchange: You and another parent get together and agree to teach the subject of your choice to each others children. Often a parent is a subject matter expert in an area that others can benefit from.
• On-Line Classes through the Internet: There is a growing number of classes available through the internet. From Web sites with lessons and email access to teachers, to once a week fully interactive real-time classes, the internet just may be the next real alternative for homeschoolers.
What about college?
Because homeschoolers, on the average, excel above those in public high schools and even many private schools, many colleges are now welcoming them with open arms. You, the parent, need to keep good records and make sure your child has the credits the college(s) of their choice require. They also need to have some outside activities (as do traditionally schooled students). Many colleges require every student to take the SAT and/or the ACT entrance exams. Your child can also study for and take the College Board AP exams offered through high schools across the country. If your child passes this exam in a particular subject, this gives him/her college credit. Many times, a high schooler who passes one of these exams, attracts the attention of colleges and receives scholarship offers.
What about Credits, Transcripts, Grades, etc.?
Traditional schools have to calculate a credit based on the length of time a class is in session (i.e. 180 days at a class time of 50 min/day = 150 hrs = 1 credit). You can keep track of the amount of time spent on a subject and give credit this way. You can also assume that teachers never actually teach a full 50 min, and if you use a traditional curriculum, such as one from BJUP or ABeka, and you complete the curriculum in a year, your child has earned one credit. If your child has activities outside the home for which you are counting as part of his/her subjects, you can use the # of hours spent to calculate the amount of credit given.
Grades: While in the lower grades, many parents opt not to give grades for their child’s work, colleges usually expect to see some sort of grade. If you are using a traditional curriculum, it is a simple matter to grade the work based on the answer key. If you are using a less traditional curriculum, you might begin by establishing a set of standards and goals you want your child to achieve. Write these down. You can use these to evaluate your child’s work and assign grades. If you are using a tutor, or an on-line tutorial, ask if the teacher will provide you an evaluation of your child’s work at the end of the year. If you are going through a correspondence school, they will usually provide you with a transcript showing grades and credits, otherwise you will have to keep good records and list subject, grade, and credit along with the student information (name, address, etc.).