Homestay Guidelines and Rules
Last updated on September 16, 2016
Last updated on September 16, 2016
Treat your student the way you would want your own children to be treated if they went to study and live abroad.
Make sure that you know the rules, can commit to hosting the student, and have a clean home.
Ensure that you and your family can commit to personally hosting your student (you cannot have others host on your behalf). This includes reading all of the guidelines, having enough space in your home, providing for their meals, and being able to transport them to and from school/school-related activities (see § 5.2).
Each student needs and expects to have the following in their room: • A twin-sized bed • A lamp and/or ceiling lights • Dresser and/or closet and storage space • Internet/WIFI access • A desk and chair or a dedicated, quiet work area elsewhere in the home.
Make sure your student’s bedroom, bathroom, and common areas are cleaned before your student’s arrival. This includes changing the bedding, cleaning surfaces in the bathroom, and ensuring that storage space is empty so they can put their belongings inside.
Give your student a warm welcome, a tour of their new home, and their privacy.
The best gift you can give your international student upon arrival is a warm welcome at the airport! Help them recognize you by writing their name on a sign in large, bold letters. Keep their photo with you to recognize them.
Give the newest member of your family a tour of the home as soon as possible. Make them feel welcome in their new home by showing them their bedroom, bathroom, and other important areas. Help them connect to your WIFI, too!
Chances are your student will be exhausted from a long flight. Give them their privacy and a chance to catch up on sleep if they indicate they are tired. You’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other in the coming days!
Setting expectations early on is important. The more specific, the better!
Be specific about your rules and expectations (e.g. no shoes in the house or limit showers to 10 minutes), and have them written out before your student arrives. Help students understand the reasons behind your rules and provide plenty of examples.
Communication is very important to us. Just like we are available 24/7 for emergencies, we expect the responsible adults in the family to be reachable at any given time. Give students your cell phone number and add them to your phone’s contact list.
Students may be encouraged to help with light chores like setting and clearing the dinner table. They are expected to keep their room clean. If you want students to do their own laundry, explain how your machines work and that laundry should be done in full loads.
Everyone’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health must be protected.
Your student is not a guest—they’re family! Follow the Homestay Golden Rule. Include them in your family activities and help them assimilate to the culture. If you are religious, you may encourage them to attend services with you or observe a specific day of rest, but do not impose your beliefs on them.
Not all students come from cultures where hands are washed before eating. In some cases, students never use hand soap; some students may also be accustomed to putting dirty toilet paper in the trash instead of the toilet. Help them understand and follow your personal hygiene practices and stress that they are important not only to their health, but to the health of your family as well.
Drinking is against the law for anyone under 21, and smoking is illegal for anyone under 18. Never drink with or supply alcohol to a student. This rule also applies to cigarettes and any other tobacco or drug related items. Violating these rules will result in the removal of the student from your home.
Observing practical boundaries is crucial to keeping everyone happy and safe.
Students under 18 years of age are not allowed to drive except in rare cases.¹ All students who drive must (a) obtain a valid driver’s license, (b) drive their own vehicle, (c) pay for their own auto insurance, and (d) obey all driving laws. If students want to practice driving to obtain a driver’s license, please have them contact Passport Scholars so we can connect them to a driving school. Students may not use their homestay family’s personal vehicles to practice driving.
You are required to provide transportation to students to and from school.² Be very clear on the schedule for each day, including the weekends. You are not expected to be the student’s personal chauffeur, but we encourage you to help them reach their destinations whenever possible. Students under 18 in our high school program may use Uber (or other ridesharing apps), taxis, and/or public transportation only if certain conditions are met (see below).³ All students must come home at a reasonable time, which you may determine with them. Sleeping over at a friend’s house is not allowed.
Students should limit their showers to about 10 minutes, especially in California and other areas experiencing droughts. You are also encouraged to teach them to respect the usage of your utilities (e.g. turning the lights off when they leave a room). While you must provide towels, they are responsible for their own toiletries (e.g. shampoo, toothpaste, etc.). If they do not have these items, take them to a store where they can purchase them with their own money.
¹In rare cases Passport Scholars will allow students under 18 to drive, but only if the following conditions are met: (1) The natural parents of the student must purchase or lease the student’s own vehicle; homestay parents are not allowed to be listed as co-owners or owners of any student’s vehicle. (2) The natural parents of the student must purchase and maintain the student’s auto insurance policy through a reputable U.S.-based insurance company (e.g. GEICO, State Farm, Allstate, Progressive, Farmers Insurance, Liberty Mutual, or Nationwide); it is highly recommended to choose the highest coverage limits possible. Students may not be listed on their homestay family’s auto insurance policy. (3) The natural parents of the student and the student must sign a waiver recognizing the risks of driving and releasing both Passport Scholars and the homestay family of liability. (4) The student must display good behavior at school and with the homestay family while maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or above.
²Transportation to and from school only applies to high school students who do not have their own vehicles. High school students may alternatively take a school bus or carpool with another family from their same school if previously arranged. If the original arrangement is for the homestay parent to drive the student, but they are no longer available to drive, the homestay parent is expected to cover any costs associated with transportation to/from school. If a student desires to participate in school-related activities which involve a substantial amount of driving (e.g. basketball games and practices), we will work with the homestay family and the student on a case-by-case basis. Students over 18 may (a) use Uber (or other ridesharing apps), taxis, and/or public transportation, (b) drive their own vehicle, or (c) arrange to have their homestay family drive them to school. This can be discussed with the family and student on a case-by-case basis.
³For safety reasons, Passport Scholars does not encourage students under 18 to use Uber (or other ridesharing apps), taxis, and/or public transportation. High school students under 18 may not use these methods of transportation unless if they and their natural parents sign a waiver recognizing the risks of using these types of transportation and releasing Passport Scholars and the homestay family of liability.
Speak English at home, show and teach common courtesy, and support your student.
Being immersed in the English language is one of the #1 reasons why students choose to live with homestay families. Because of this, you should always speak in English with them! Help them practice their English and always be supportive of their efforts to improve. If your family speaks a second language, you should only use it when speaking to each other in private.
Your student may not say “please” or “thank you” when you expect them to. This is typically because they haven’t grown up in a culture where those words are said often. Teach them that this is customary and expected in the United States. Some students may also speak whatever is on their mind with no filters (e.g. calling someone “fat” to their face). Help them understand and appreciate the use of discretion in their speech.
We encourage our families to support the students academically. If they have questions, please help them as you are able. However, you are not obligated to act as their personal tutor. Use common sense and maintain academic integrity (i.e. don’t do their homework for them). We expect our families to communicate with the student about their academic performance, notifying us of any issues.
Ensuring your student has enough good food to eat is important!
Families are required to provide their high school students with a minimum of two cooked meals per day, and access to cold/dry food like yogurt or cereal for breakfast. You are not required to pay for any specialty foods or snacks. Occassionaly, buying food if you do not have time to cook is acceptable (you may not charge them for this). Meal plans for university students are handled on a case-by-case basis and are addressed in each contract.
When you apply to become a homestay host, we will ask if your family has any dietary restrictions (e.g. vegan or vegetarian). We will do our best to match you with a student who has the same restrictions/preferences. However, in some cases students may have different dietary preferences. Families should use the money earned from hosting to buy food which accommodates the student’s dietary needs.
If the student prefers to buy lunch at school or if lunch is included in their tuition plan, you are not required to provide lunch. However, if this is not the case, you are required to provide them with lunch. This can be done either by preparing it yourself, or giving the student access to the items needed to prepare their lunch. Failing to provide your student with lunch or any other meal can result in their removal from your home.
Meet the conditions of travel, receive permission, and have fun!
Students may travel out of town over the weekend or during vacation (e.g. Thanksgiving) with your family or youth groups like the Boy Scouts or Pathfinders if (1) they are accompanied by a responsible adult age 21 or older that has passed a background check and (2) Passport Scholars receives written permission from their natural parents. When students travel with your family on vacation, you must pay for their meals; students pay for their own hotel/travel costs.⁴ Permission must be requested from Passport Scholars 2 weeks prior to departure.
If your student and your family travel during a school break, you must ensure that the student returns one day prior to when classes resume. For example, if classes resume on a Monday, your student must return the day before (Sunday). If this simply isn’t possible, you must secure permission from both the school administration and Passport Scholars for the student to return late. Please remember to request permission at least two weeks prior to your date of departure.
Students must return to their home country during their Summer and Winter breaks, except under very specific circumstances and as determined by Passport Scholars on a case-by-case basis. It is possible that students may request to leave some of their belongings in their room and/or storage space during the summer. If so, Passport Scholars will discuss this with them and arrange to have your family paid a retainer fee in exchange for reserving their room and/or holding their belongings until they return for the start of the new school year.
⁴You are not obligated to take students with you on vacation trips, but we highly encourage it. If the trip requires traveling by plane, students and/or their parents are expected to pay for their own tickets. If the trip involves staying in a hotel, students and/or their parents are expected to pay for the room the student will stay in. Students are not obligated to accompany your family on vacation trips. If they choose not to travel with your family, they will be temporarily housed by the local Homestay Coordinator or another homestay family until your family returns.
Seek help, gather all the necessary paperwork, and ensure everyone’s safety.
If your student has a life-threatening or potentially life-threatening situation, call 911 immediately. If you are unsure of the severity, err on the side of caution. While you wait for help to arrive, do your best to keep the student as safe and comfortable as possible. After calling 911, you must call Passport Scholars to notify us of the situation. In some cases, you must drive students to the emergency room for non life-threatening injuries (e.g. broken bones from sports accidents).
All of our high school students have universal medical insurance policies, meaning you can take them to any hospital for treatment. You will not receive a bill and are not responsible for the student’s medical costs. However, you must always keep a physical copy of your student’s insurance card and medical release form in your purse or wallet. You must present these documents with you when you bring the student to the hospital. Please call Passport Scholars whenever your student goes to the hospital.
Routine physicals and immunizations are covered by the insurance in keeping with U.S. healthcare standards. However, the insurance plan does not cover the cost of sports physicals. If your student needs a sports physical to play on their school team, they should cover that cost with their own money. You may choose to take them to a local hospital (cost varies) or CVS Store ($59). If you or your students have further questions regarding insurance, please contact Passport Scholars.
Do everything possible to prevent conflict and utilize our support when necessary.
Never charge students money for food, gas, or any other commodity or service. While students are responsible for their own snacks/specialty food, clothing, toiletries, and entertainment costs, you are responsible for their food and transportation (see § 5.2). We do not recommend allowing students to borrow money from you; this is done at your own risk.
Students have a right to privacy in their own rooms; always knock and ask for permission before entering. If you do not assign the chore of vacuuming to students, you may enter their rooms for that purpose. You are not allowed to remove any legal items from a student’s possession, such as their phone or passport. It is illegal to remove a passport from a student’s possession. Doing this will result in their immediate removal from your home.
Homestay families are highly encouraged to communicate with the school and Passport Scholars about their student’s academic performance. If students have very low academic performance, they may have to return to their home country. If your home environment is not conducive to learning, we may move the student to another home.
Passport Scholars must be involved in each case of conflict resolution.
If there is any serious conflict between students and your family, you must notify Passport Scholars as soon as possible. You are never allowed to use any kind of physical discipline on students. Both students and families are allowed to document the circumstances behind the conflict as long as they do not violate anyone’s privacy. If the conflict cannot be resolved amicably, the student will be removed from your home.
If a student breaks or damages anything of value, they and/or their natural parents are financially responsible for its replacement. You should notify Passport Scholars about each instance where damages exceed $50 USD. While we will do our best to ensure the student pays for the damages, Passport Scholars is not liable for any damages to your belongings or property. We highly recommend that each homestay family have a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.
If you are concerned about any potential conflict with your student, please reach out to your local Passport Scholars Homestay Coordinator or anyone else at the company as soon as possible. We will work with you and your family to remedy any challenges and ensure they do not become worse. We are here to help both your family and the student, keeping everyone’s health and safety in mind.
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