Getting acquainted with your new family member

When students first arrive, you will find that they are tired, shy, probably not hungry and will give you the impression they understand very little.

Try to put yourself in the student’s place and imagine the long journey he has made and the days of anticipation leading up to his departure. Give him a couple of days to adjust.

Relax! Humor, warmth and understanding are the keys to success for your first meeting. Remember, fatigue and struggling with a new language and family all take a lot of energy.

Upon arriving at home (or the following morning if it is a late night arrival), give your student a sense of belonging through household orientation. Take nothing for granted; the student’s lifestyle might be very different from yours.

Have a Grand Tour and include all the rooms, facilities and appliances your student will have access to. Be sure to point out where to find the extra roll of toilet paper and where you keep your fresh towels.

Your authority and responsibility extend over your student as if he were one of your own children. Plan for “family time;” offer a drink or a snack to explain the rules of the house, household chores and family practices. This is an important discussion which can be very rewarding

The following may be helpful parts of discussion:

  • Frequency of bathing and changing clothes
  • Bathroom schedule
  • Laundry
  • Rules which apply to whereabouts such as time of arrival and departure
  • Picking up after oneself
  • Household responsibilities
  • Keep in mind that the students on a homestay program are still teenagers and, like your own children, will need reminders.