Summer: A Time to Reflect
School’s Out! Time for Reflection.
Wow! What a year it has been! Shuffling kids and/or your host student here, there, and everywhere can be a tiring and daunting task on days when you just feel like staying home. Now that summer is here, the kids are home, and your house is empty from the life you shared with your host student; it’s time to sit back a moment and reflect on the past year. Here we offer tips on reflecting on your busy year and planning for the year to come while you settle back into your normal summer routine.
What Worked and Didn’t Work
Sure, you want to say it was a successful year, but we’re human and not everything went well during the school year with everyone in your home. While the memories are still fresh, try jotting down all of the great times you had with your host student. What are some of the memories you shared? Places you visited? Did you spend enough time as a family visiting your city and the surrounding area sharing experiences with your host student? Did you spend time just talking about life and letting them share their stories from home? What didn’t go well? What would you do differently? Give yourself time to learn and share with others.
Contact Your Future Host Student
If possible, contact your future family member and introduce yourself to them and their family. What a great way to ease any potential anxiety that you or your next host student may have. Traveling all the way across the world can be a scary and daunting experience; especially if it’s their first time traveling far from home. Why not give them your contact information as well?
Treat Your Host Student Like One of the Family
Even with your own children it’s hard not to play favorites every once in awhile. Once your new host student joins your family, your first thought may be to treat them as a guest, but you must remember, they are a part of the family and need to share in the responsibilities. Of course you want to allow them time to adjust to their new environment, however getting them involved early on will make everyone’s lives easier. Make sure they know the rules in your home and have them follow the rules just like your own children do.
Be Involved In Their Education
Once the school year begins (or early, if possible), contact your host student’s teachers so they know who you are. Give them your contact information and have them contact you if there are ever any concerns. All host students must carry a traditional course of study and pass all of their classes. If they are struggling, ask for a meeting with one or all of the teachers. Most schools offer to see grades and assignments online. Be sure both you and the host student access this information of a regular basis.
Encourage Your Host Student to Get Involved in Sports and/or After-School Activities
According to Education Week Teacher, you as the host parent have to act like a salesman. Sell that after-school activity, music or sports team. “Redefine what it means to be a member.” When we feel like we belong to a special group, our outlook on life is better. We all have a need to belong; give them that opportunity to experience life outside the home. They’ll make new, long-lasting friendships and will have more to share around the dinner table each night.
Building traditions and experiences fosters memories. Memories make us feel good. So, why not start once your host student arrives to your home? What traditions do you currently have and what new traditions can you start with a new member of your family? Try monthly themes, for example, September is the start of school and the traditional symbol is fall and apples. October could be pumpkins, and November, Thanksgiving. Start baking each month, visit parks to watch the leaves turn from month to month, keep a picture journal for your host student to take back home.
Keep Communication Open
Get to know your host student and allow them to get to know you and your family. This will take time as you share. Set aside time everyday to talk openly as a family. Dinnertime just might be the best time when everyone is home after a long day at school and work. Experiences, thoughts, concerns, and celebrations can be shared while everyone listens and asks questions. I bet you’ll all look forward to this time and when it is forgotten due to the craziness of life, you’ll hear complaining about missing dinnertime!!
There are so many websites to peruse for more ideas on how to make your school year a success whether you continue hosting students or just for your family. Enjoy the time, start early and make the most of each day.
- Exchange Mom – http://blog.exchangemom.com/2013/02/13/practical-tips-for-exchange-student-host-families/
- Study in the State – https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security – https://www.ice.gov/sevis/schools
- Education Week Teacher – https://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2015/02/17/4-ways-to-get-students-interested-in.html