We hope you will find the answers to the questions that you have about hosting with MyEducation.
Welcoming your student
Our arrivals in August/September usually attend an arrival camp prior to heading to their host family home. Scotland arrivals usually attend a camp in Stirling and England and Wales arrivals usually attend a camp in Stratford or near Cambridge. At the end of these camps the students then travel by bus or train to their host family area and we ask that you collect them from their arrival point. The arrival date is communicated to you ahead of time and transport is usually booked a month before arrival.
For arrivals in January the students travel to your nearest local airport. We prefer that families collect their students from the airport, but if this is not possible we will arrange a transfer for them.
On departure, all students leave from their local airport.
Our best advice to all host families is to start as you mean to go on.
Your student will live with you for a considerable amount of time and so it is important that you do not treat them as a guest. They are a member of your family and so you should treat them like that. If you fall into the habit of doing everything for them in the first week, it becomes harder to break that habit and the student might not understand what is expected of them.
Show them where things are. Show them how to make a cup of tea! Make it clear what they can eat in the kitchen, how to work the TV, where the washing machine is and where to find spare toilet rolls. It might feel very odd not to treat a new arrival as a guest, but it is important for you and the student that expectations are set early on as it will help you all to succeed.
Many families like to spend a day showing their student around the local town. Show them how to get to school. Some have chores that need to be done such as purchasing uniform items or getting a new SIM card for their mobile phone.
Don’t do too much in the first few days as the students will be tired. The mental strain of speaking English and meeting new people and possibly recovering from jet lag will take its toll on them, so there is no need to do too much. Again, start as you mean to go on.
MyEducation has a list of rules for the students to follow while on exchange and these are communicated to them prior to arrival and at orientation. These rules include, but are not limited to:
- no alcohol, smoking or drugs
- no driving of any motorised vehicle
- must work hard at school
- follow the rules of the host family.
We ask that you consider the rules and expectations that you wish to put on your student. If you have other teenage children then we would expect you to put the same rules on the student as you have for your own children. Understandably you might decide that some modifications are needed while your student gets to know the area and makes friends. Think about what chores you expect the student to do at home and how they should help in general. Many families experience issues with overuse of screens in the home, so consider how you might limit phone and internet time and ensure that homework is being completed.
MyEducation will provide as much support and guidance as possible to ensure that you are ready for the arrival of your student and we will also support your rules as the student is living in your home.
Again, start as you mean to go on!
Make sure that you speak with the student in the first few days about what your rules and expectations are. It is best to have a conversation and in some cases families like to write things down, especially when a student has a more limited understanding of English.
Remember that it is easier to remind a student of what is expected rather than asking them to completely change their understanding of what is expected of them while living in your home.
MyEducation will secure an enrolment date for your student from the school. Some schools like to have a meeting with them to draw up their timetable and then the student returns the following day, while others like to have the student start on day one. We will do our best to confirm the enrolment day and time prior to the start of term.
Where possible we ask that a host parent accompanies the student to school on the first day so that they have support and help. It is a huge benefit for them to have you with them and to help them find their way.
DURING THE PROGRAM
Communication is key for the success of the program. Encourage your student to talk with you about their day at school and how they are feeling about the experience. Are they happy at school and at home? Opening up this line of communication will help you all to succeed and to ensure that you both get the most from the experience.
Homesickness can be a problem that many students encounter and so it helps if you make sure that students don’t spend a lot of time in their room alone or speaking with their family and friends from home. The more time they spend isolated in this manner the harder it will be for them to overcome homesickness and cultural adjustment.
Suggest activities for them to do at weekends as well as involving them in your weekly activities. If you go to the gym or for a walk, try and take your student along. Take them to local attractions and make them aware of local events. Also encourage them to meet up with new acquaintances at school to help them build a friendship. Make it clear if your student is welcome to bring a friend to the home.
Gentle encouragement is needed for all students, but some might need a little more help than others. Although you might expect all applicants to the program to be very outgoing and brave, it is not the case. Some students will hit the ground running and take everything in their stride, while others are quite shy and nervous of trying new things, so you may have to adjust your manner and level of involvement to support them accordingly. Over time they will make friends and become busier and you will see them develop and spread their wings more.
We hope that all students will grasp every opportunity to meet new people and try new experiences, but some are more hesitant than others. MyEducation believes that it is vital that all students join at least one club while on exchange. It helps to keep them busy and to meet people of a similar mindset, and they will also have a lot of fun. As a host family we would ask that you help your student find a club that they want to participate in and then ensure they get involved. A firm but friendly motivation is necessary for some students as they might be nervous to try new things.
From your student’s profile and discussions with them before arrival it would be wonderful if you can investigate the opportunities for them in the local area. Some schools offer a variety of activities, while others do not. If your student wants to join Scouts or a choir, any help you can offer to find them a club and get them enrolled early on will do a lot to help them succeed and settle early in the program.
Your Area Representative is a local person who is a volunteer with MyEducation. They are people who enjoy working with young people or have hosted before and know the benefits of the exchange. Area Representatives are there to support you and the student through the experience.
The Area Representative has a set level of contact that they must have with the student and this is a mixture of calls and meetings each month. MyEducation does not have a set timetable for contact with a host family as we prefer that you and the Area Representative work out what is needed. We ask that the Area Representative is in contact monthly with you, but you can determine how you communicate. Between these calls and meetings, both you and the student can contact the Area Representative when needed.
Communication is so important during the exchange experience. If there is a problem it is vital that you talk with someone about it early on. The longer you leave a problem, the harder it is to fix.
With minor issues we would hope that you can speak with the student directly and explain the problem and make sure that the student understands the rules and expectations. For the majority of issues, a clear conversation can resolve problems very quickly.
If a problem is larger, e.g. if the student is isolating themselves from the family or breaking the rules, then it is important that you contact your Area Representative if you need assistance. Again, the sooner the issue is raised, the more we can do to help. You might feel that the Area Representative needs to reaffirm the message you have given the student about a problem or you might ask them to contact the student because you are concerned about them.
We ask the same of our students. If there is a minor issue we hope that they can talk with you directly about it and get help. For more complex issues, the student might speak first with the Area Representative. In this situation the Area Representative might then come and speak with you about the concern. For more complicated issues, a sit down might be required between you, the student and the Area Representative to discuss the issue. We hope that everyone will come to that meeting with an open mind and be willing to move forward and support one another.
If serious issues cannot be resolved then we will work to find a new host family for the student. Finding a family can take several weeks so we must ask for patience while this process is completed.
Some families have holidays booked during the period that a student is living with them. Some students travel with their family and in this situation the student would be expected to pay for their accommodation and travel where required. It is important to discuss these costs with the students early on because some have more limited budgets than others.
If you take a holiday without your student we ask that you communicate your travel dates as early as possible to the MyEducation team. We will then work with you to find a temporary family for the student. Students are not allowed to stay overnight in the host family home without an adult present. If the student has to move to another family while you are away, the temporary family will receive reimbursement for hosting the student and your monthly payment will be adjusted accordingly.
No. Students remain on exchange for the full period of their program. They will spend school holidays and Christmas with you at your home.
Special circumstances might lead MyEducation to allow a student to return home for a short period, but this is not common.
An exchange program is not a time for students to tour the country and see the whole of the UK. We do not expect families to travel excessively with their students. We do hope that you will make the effort to show them local attractions and to show them things that you are able to manage and afford. All students are responsible for their own entry fees to attractions so you do not need to budget for this. All students are grateful for the opportunities they are offered and we hope that you can all do fun things together.
MyEducation aims to offer two trips over the 10-month period, but numbers affect whether the trips can run. We usually organise a weekend in London in November and a trip to Scotland in March/April. All details are shared with the students as early as possible so that they can choose if they wish to join. These trips are an additional cost for them and while we try to keep the cost as low as possible, not all students will choose to join in.