POINTS TO CONSIDER FOR HOMESTAY HOST PARENTS
- Long distance phone access
Do you want the student to use phone cards, get their own phone (if extended stay), or can the student use the household phone account for their personal long distance calls? If the household phone account is used, what arrangement will be made to pay the last month’s calls after the student has left? Please keep in mind, that RDPSD is not liable for these phone bills.
- Length of time of internet access; particularly during daytime hours.
Does your household internet account have a data cap? Be sure to clarify with your student if there are limits on your household internet data to avoid exceeding internet usage limits.
- Who does laundry; when?
Is there a laundry schedule? Do you do the student’s laundry or do you wish to student to do his/her own laundry? If the student is to do his/her own laundry, the student may have to be taught how to do laundry (Eg. Separating darks from lights, amount of detergent, etc…). The student will also have to be taught how to use the machines and told if there are any limits as to the times during which laundry can be done. Where can hand laundry be done and left to dry?
- Meal times and family expectations
What times are the common family meal times? If the student is not going to be present, how much notice is expected? If the student will be absent for a meal, does he/she wish for a meal to be kept for a later time? After the meal, is the student expected to clear his/her own place?
- Preparation of breakfast and lunches (if the students are to do this, they may need to be taught)
Are breakfast and lunches prepared for the student or is the student to prepare his/her own? Many student from other countries have never prepared their own meals so may not know how to prepare a breakfast or a lunch. Students will have to be taught this skill. It is also a good idea to take the student grocery shopping with you during the first week so that if there are any foods the student likes that are normally kept in the house, they can be purchased. Students must also be shown where all the various foods in the house are kept and be given permission to help themselves whenever they are hungry.
- Times for earliest and latest phone calls
Is there a limit on the times during the day that students are making phone calls or internet calls to friends and family? What hours do you not want incoming calls? (eg. Night hours- note: North American night hours tend to be earlier than most other cultures.) This is especially important to verify because of the significant time changes between Alberta and many other countries. If you have a home phone, do you want the student to answering incoming calls?
- How to set thermostats and at what temperature
Do you like your thermostats turned down at night and when no one is in the house? Teach the student where and how. Many students from other countries do not have central heating and/or thermostats. Many students also find our houses cold and like to turn the thermostats up quite high. Do you have a maximum temperature at which you like the household thermostat set? Show the student your household furnace and explain how it works. You might also like to explain energy costs and show students where they can find extra blankets if they are cold.
- Bathroom-door open or closed when not in use
In many other countries, the bathroom door is left closed when not in use. What is the procedure in your house? It is also helpful to explain what can and cannot be flushed. In some countries, toilet paper cannot be flushed and it put into a waste basket so it is helpful to clarify this for students.
- TV watching
What are the rules and times for TV watching in your house? Students need to know this. Are there limits on the volume and the types of shows watched in your house?
- Showers- water is not endless; shower water heater and explain how the system works
Can showers (or baths) be taken at any time or are there times you do not wish showers to be taken? What is the maximum amount of time that a shower should last? What is the family schedule for taking showers? Show the student the hot water heater. Explain how our water system works. Again, you might want to explain energy cost.
- How to use microwave
As students may sometimes be reheating food or late meals, explain how the microwave works. Be sure they understand that metal cannot be put in the microwave.
- Cleaning up behind self
This is a homestay; you are not a maid. What personal cleaning jobs is the student responsible for? (Making and changing bed? Keeping home tidy? Cleaning bathroom behind self? Cleaning up household common areas behind self?) How to load and use the dishwasher? When loads are washed?
- Emphasize importance of proper diet and clothing, especially in our weather
Albertans, we know how the weather can change quickly and drastically. Many foreign students are not aware of this. They need to be taught that when they go out for the day, they need to be prepared for any change in weather. Layering is the best solution for dressing for Alberta’s weather. It is also important that a proper diet is maintained in order to remain healthy.
- Household security system
If you have a household security system; how does it operate? Teach the student how it works and have the student practice. Have the student practice when an error occurs so they know how to remedy the situation. Remember to inform your security company that you have a student in the house that is authorized to be there. Make sure the student knows what to do in emergencies and/or when they have a problem with the alarm ringing. If you have an emergency household key hidden outside, does the student know where it is?
- Household areas
Which areas are common and/or which areas are off limits to the student?
- Audio equipment
How do your home electronics work? Be sure that the student knows which equipment he/she is allowed to use and that he/she knows the equipment operates.
Many foreign students come with extra clothing and luggage. Where can they store these (and/or purchases) so that their rooms do not become cluttered? Where can off seasonal clothing be stored?
- Electricity breaker box
Show the student where the electricity breaker box is and how it works.
- Household Idiosyncrasies
Every household has those things that do not work in a “normal” fashion. Ensure that your student understands these. (Most of them we tend to forget because we deal with them all the time)
What are the common family activities? To which ones is the student invited to participate? What provisions will be made for student if family is away over meal times?
- Fire extinguisher, smoke alarms
Show the student where the fire extinguisher is and how it works. Also if you have a smoke alarm that often goes off when cooking, explain this to the student. Do not allow the burning of candles or incense. Also explain how your CO2 alarm works, if you have one.
- Help with English
Most of our international students will require assistance with English. Keep your language simple and direct but do not talk down to the student. Put sticky labels on common items in the house to help the student learn these names. Put common English words on the refrigerator. If students need help with homework, do not do the work for the student, let the student do the work; help the student by editing the work with the student. Be careful not to change the content, even if you do not agree with it.
If you are a religious family, do not impose your religious beliefs on your student. If your student is religious, respect his/her beliefs; locate the appropriate church for the student.
Your children may initially feel some jealousness toward the student because the student is receiving additional attention. Try to include your children in the orientation activities.
- Becoming adjusted
After the first two or three weeks, the “honeymoon period” wears of and there may be dissatisfaction on both parts. Try to work through this to a common ground.