Foreign Exchange Friday: Establishing House Rules

#Quotes Family Rules admired by our rattan fur...

#Quotes Family Rules admired by our rattan furniture designers. (Photo credit: Wickerfurniture)

Your student should expect to be treated like a member of the family, rather than as a guest in your home.  As such, s/he should also expect to follow the rules of your household.  If you have your own children of similar ages, it may be easy just to incorporate the same rules for your exchange student that you have for your own teenagers, but if your children are younger or your exchange student is an “only child,” you may have a more challenging time coming up with ideas of what is fair.

Some students may have more or less strict rules back home with their natural families, so it’s important to discuss with them why you’ve put these things in place for them.  This may be a cultural difference that will take some adjustment on both of your parts, but can be easily overcome through good communication.

In your Host Family Handbook, there are some sample household rules, such as:

  1. We expect you to be an active member of our family. We will treat you as suchand not as a visitor or guest.
  2. At all times keep us informed of where you will be, with whom, and when you will return.  Regular curfew is 9:00 pm on school nights and midnight on weekends.
  3. Maintain a positive attitude.  You will probably think some things are better at home, while other things are better here. Enjoy the best of both worlds and be
  4. respectful of these differences.
  5. We need sufficient notice ahead of time if you need a ride somewhere, and the same holds true if you do not need a ride after we have planned to give you one.
  6. Drug and alcohol use is a violation of state laws and EF Foundation rules, andit will not be tolerated.
  7. Do not monopolize the telephone or computer. Please be considerate of other in the amount of time you talk and the time of day or night.
  8. We value our meals together as family time, and we would like you to join us and enjoy this part of the day with us.
  9. All family members are expected to help around the house. This will include clearing your dishes off the table and cleaning your bedroom.
  10. We will give you “freedom with responsibility” in choosing your free-time activities. However, we reserve the right to prohibit certain activities if, in our opinion, we have a valid reason.

Your own rules list may vary in length and severity; it all depends upon your comfort level.  However, it is best to establish rules early on, then relax them later as you learn to trust each other.

A successful exchange year happens through open communication and mutual respect.  Please know that your IEC is available to you to help out if you need help getting back on track with these!

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