When you are hosting a student, it is important that they feel and are treated the same as your own kids. When they arrive it is important to make them feel welcome, introduce them to everybody in the house and show them where everything is. It is also as important to be interested in what they are doing and how they are getting on. Making them feel as comfortable and settled as possible early on in their stay will ensure the stay goes smoothly and everyone gets the most out of it.
You do not expect your children to be friendly with every child in their class and your own children will not always get along so don’t force them to be best friends with the students you are hosting. It can be counterproductive and cause resentment. A better approach is to ensure that the children closest in age include them in any sports or activities. This way friendships develop naturally. It is also important to keep in mind that the student will be quite overwhelmed in a different home, speaking their second language all the time etc. etc. and will, therefore, want space and time to just relax.
Ensure that the student is aware of the house rules at the outset to prevent avoidable issues. Restricting wifi access may be something that the students' parents specify for the trip and can be a little tricky if it conflicts with your approach with your own children. The key is to make everything as clear as possible at the outset and check with the parents if you are unsure what is expected. Including the child in chores is also useful as it makes them feel more part of the family and also helps improve their English in a different area.
Usually, homesickness occurs in the first week of the stay. It is a daunting experience travelling to a foreign country at a young age. Some simple things to help in this area are:
Space has been mentioned already and it cannot be stressed how important it is to get the balance right. Giving the student a place where they can chill out (ideally their room) and time is key to successful hosting. Having this space allows them to regroup and recharge during their language immersion.
The primary purpose of language immersion is to improve the students conversational English. Some of the easiest ways to do that are finding topics to talk about that are familiar for the student and of interest for the host family. Talking to the students about their friends or interests is a great place to start. These types of discussions can be fascinating and often quite funny.
When you are hosting a foreign student it is a great way to learn about a different culture or location. It can be really interesting hearing about how things are done, what are the traditions, festivals etc. etc. and often sparks a persons interest in visiting a particular location. It is a great way to get a first-hand review. For the student, this is invaluable as they are able to practice their conversational English on a topic they are very familiar with.
Depending on what type of hosting you are doing, day trips may be required as part of the homestay. What we often find is that families use the time when they are hosting a student to arrange day trips to places they have intended to visit but never done so. A day trip can be the highlight of a student language vacation and a memorable experience for your family.
Remember hosting students is a great experience that expands your families horizons and gives you new global friends for life.
And it's like most things in life