Establishing an Environment for Open Communication
Build Trust Through Communication
Whether you are a seasoned host parent or just beginning on your hosting journey; establishing an environment suitable for open communication is key to a successful year for you and your host student. Communication between you and your student may contain barriers that would otherwise not be present between you and other children of similar ages. The primary reason being that your international student may not speak English fluently enough to feel comfortable communicating his or her needs and feelings. As the year progresses, the expectation is that his or her grasp on the English language improves, but what to do in the meantime? Here are a few simple ideas to incorporate into your home routine:
Spend Time Together
Spending quality time together is a great way to build trust and an opportunity for conversation. Bond over a television show or movie; turn the subtitles on and discuss what’s happening. Find shows that you all like to watch and talk about them. Take turns reading books together and discuss what’s happening in them. Go for drives and experience your town together. Find out what your student likes to do, and go on adventures together.
Have Regular Family Meetings
Spend time talking to each of your children and host student. When treating your host student the same as the rest of your children, he or she will feel more a part of the family. Conversations can be centered around school events and classes, new friends, homelife, and their hometown. Be open to what is said, try to understand what your student is going through, and find ways to actively support throughout the process. These actions demonstrate that you are willing to hear what your student needs to say and trust is built.
Enjoy Meals Together
Nothing helps people bond faster than a good meal. Delicious food, laughter, and lightheartedness brings a sense of joy and fun to mealtimes. Talk and share events of the day; find things to laugh about. Go grocery shopping and prepare meals together. Practice saying the names of foods in English and ask your student to say them in his or her native tongue. Meal times are perfect for communicating and bonding.
These are only a few ways that you can establish an environment for open communication with your student. Help him or her feel at home; build trust and share in life experiences together.