EXPECTATIONS OF A HOMESTAY
As we know families come in many different shapes and sizes. Here are the criteria that is used to select host families:
A “family” can consist of a single host mother or father, older retired couple, couples without children, or a traditional family with children
English must be the language spoken in the home when students are present
Once the above conditions have been met, what do we expect from our host families? Physically, the prospective home should provide the full year student with:
their own bedroom with the appropriate privacy;
a room which has adequate light, a comfortable bed, chest of drawers, closet and a desk (if a desk is not provided in the room, a study area must be available). Pillows, bed linen, towels, toilet paper, bath mats and shower curtains should be provided;
three nutritious meals a day plus reasonable snacks and beverages... Breakfast is either prepared for the student (if that is the custom of the family) or breakfast foods must be available for the student to prepare their own, a bag lunch (either made by the student or the host parent), and dinner. The family can ask that a student help with the dinner, either setting the table, helping with the preparation, or clearing the table after, but only if other members of the family contribute also.
a safe environment
Ideally, we would like our host parents to treat the student as though they were a member of the family. Once we place a student in a homestay, the following is expected from the host families:
*Ensure that house insurance is sufficient to cover potential liability, property or accident claims. Many insurance companies have special clauses or riders for boarders.
no more than two international students will reside in a homestay; in the case of short term students this may be three or four students with shared bedrooms. Occasionally, 3 students may be in the same home under special arrangement.
if there are two students, they must be of different nationalities - i.e., Mexican and Japanese; Japanese and Taiwanese. This forces the use of English between the students. The occasional exception to this may be for short-term students or emergency homestay placements, but only when approved by the program;
students are to be included in any family-related activities (holiday celebrations, family dinners, family outings to a park, skating, McDonalds). However, entertainment costs are not part of the “contract”. For example, if the family is going skiing and the student accepts an invitation to join them, the host family is not responsible for paying ski lift costs;
supply a house key and explain appropriate security procedures.
charge only the homestay fee set by the Powell River School District. No advance rent, damage, and/or telephone deposits may be charged. If there are specific charges related to internet connection, please notify the Homestay Coordinator.
the host family must ensure adult supervision of the host student at all times. Students attending high school programs cannot be left alone overnight. Arrangements must be made by the host family to have an adult over the age of 25 living in the home if they are planning to go away or other alternative arrangement in place so that adult supervision of the student is maintained. Contact the homestay coordinator if assistance is required.
students should be treated in an appropriate manner and reasonable house rules be visible - written rules are often a good idea.
Host Families should not:
accommodate anyone of the same nationality or language as the Powell River School District student residing in your home unless approved by the International office;
ask homestay students to provide babysitting services or undertake major housecleaning chores.
assume any legal or financial responsibility for a student (such as signing for phone services, internet services, or loans, etc.).
allow another guest or family member to share the student’s bedroom.
accept student placement if house renovations or construction projects are planned or underway.
If the relationship between the student and the family does break down, the following applies:
host families are given the right to sufficient notice if a student chooses to leave the homestay. Generally, two weeks notice must be given as a minimum.
similarly, the host family must give the student sufficient notice if they wish to have a student leave their home for whatever reason. Generally, two weeks notice should be given as a minimum.
the homestay program has the right to remove a student from a family if there are violations of the homestay rules. If we feel that a family is not living up to the required expectations or if the homestay environment is deemed, in any way, to be unsafe, we have the right to move the student immediately without the usual notice.
a student will be removed from the homestay if they are abusing the family’s rules; a student may be dismissed from the International Student Program if he/she violates homestay rules.
the homestay family must notify the homestay coordinator immediately if there are any problems or concerns.
Finally, we hope this is a very positive experience for you and your family and we thank you for your involvement in our program.
EXPECTATIONS FOR STUDENTS LIVING WITH HOST FAMILIES
Canada is a multi-cultural country. As a result, some of our homestay families may have foreign names but are second generation Canadians who speak fluent English. It is always our objective to ensure that our students are placed in homestays where English is the only spoken language. We expect our students to respect that. Prejudice and racism are not tolerated by the Powell River School District. Any experiences of predjudice and/or racism should be reported to the international program.
Students must understand that homestay parents are not just landlords. Students are expected to conform to the normal rules of family life and to contribute to the routine operation of the household.
Always ask your host parent’s permission before making plans. Be sure to tell them
where you would like to go
how you will get there
who you will be with
when you will be home - be sure to be back on time.
advise your homestay family by telephone if you will be late or if you want to change your plans
Behave responsibly and you will be given responsibility. Your homestay family may refuse you permission to participate in some activity.
Reasons for refusal could include:
Respect their concern
Interaction with the Family
The way to make the most of your Canadian living experience is to come with an open mind. Come prepared to participate in family life and share in the responsibilities of being a family member. The homestay experience you will have will largely depend on you and your attitude, your friendliness, etc.
The first few weeks living in a new country with a new family will, at times, be difficult. You may feel homesick and frustrated with your new environment and the language. This is natural. Give yourself time to adjust to your new surroundings.
If you choose to participate in family holidays and/or travel where costs are incurred, you are expected to assist in bearing the costs. Where you choose not to participate in the activity, then you and the homestay parents must make alternate arrangements that are acceptable to everyone, including the international program expectations. The International Program staff should be notified if students are not staying at or with their host parents.
Host Family Vacations
You should never be left alone overnight in your homestay. Arrangements should be made for a responsible person (someone at least 25 years old) to be in the home for your homestay's absence. The International Office is to be advised of the arrangements for your care during your homestay's absence.
Student Holiday Travel/Vacations
Our policy is that no deduction is made in homestay fee if you temporarily leave the homestay for vacation. The full month's homestay is expected to be paid to the host family.
Dealing with Problems
Your homestay experience is an important part of your stay in Canada. It gives you the opportunity to become a member of a Canadian family. If you are having difficulty adjusting to your host family, try to communicate your problems and concerns with them. Often, problems and misunderstandings can be resolved in this way. If they cannot be resolved, your school coordinator or counsellor is always available to help you resolve your problems. In addition, our homestay program representatives, the International Program counselor or our International Program staff can assist
Families and students are expected to make every effort to make the homestay a success. In the unlikely event that families and students are incompatible, and every effort has failed to improve the situation, then another homestay will be arranged.
Please be advised and remember, if you are involved in a serious violation of the homestay rules, then you may be sent home.
This is an area that is often confusing for both students and homestays. All our international students (with a very few exceptions) have private medical coverage for the first three months of their program with Student Guard. If you are staying in our district for less than 6 months you will continue to be covered by Student Guard. All other full year students will be enrolled in the Medical Services Plan (MSP) of British Columbia after the intial 3 months.
Student Guard: If you need any medical assistance while enrolled in the private insurance, you will be required to pay for the service and then you will submit receipts to Student Guard for a refund. However, if you need hospital attention, you or a hospital staff member should call the phone number on your Student Guard membership card and all fees will be paid to the hospital directly from Student Guard. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you have original receipts. If there are any questions, please come to our International Office.
NOTE: While you are covered with Student Guard you will have medical coverage when you leave British Columbia (go to United States or another province). MSP, however, does NOT provide this coverage - you should look to see what other coverage you may have from your home country or you may need to purchase temporary travel insurance.
You should let the homestay family know of your plans. If you are not coming home for dinner, this should be arranged with the family beforehand. The host family should know where you are going with whom, and what time you will be expected home. Please tell your homestay parents the names of your friends and their contact information.Discuss the planned activity and set a reasonable return time if it is going to be later than the recommended curfew times below.
Sunday to Thursday
You should be home for dinner as much as possible
Friday and Saturday
13 years old
14-15 years old
16 years old
17 years and older
The host family should also keep you informed about their schedule and plans.
Overnight stays outside the family home and out of town travel with persons other than homestay family members are subject to the approval of homestay parents and/or school coordinator and/or student’s parents. This approval MUST be obtained from the International Office Staff at least ONE WEEK prior to the planned travel.
Travel Outside of Powell River
You may not travel outside the Powell River area without a responsible adult and written permission from your natural parents. We will need the contact information. If you are travelling is outside of Canada, you will need to obtain a travel letter from the International Office.
If you are travelling with your homestay, please obtain a letter of written confirmation from your natural family. Please provide the International Office with emergency contact numbers where you can be reached during your absence. You will need a travel letter from our office if the travel is outside Canada.
If you wish to travel outside Canada (including the US) you should have travel medical insurance and ensure that you have proper travel documentation to enter a different country and to return to Canada.
As an International Student in Canada on a student visa, you may not use alcohol or illegal drugs.
Immigration Canada does not permit you to be employed while in Canada.
If you commit an offence under Canadian law, then you will be dealt with by the police and Immigration Canada, as necessary. Homestay parents are not held accountable for offences committed by students. If you break the law you will be immediately dismissed from our program.
School: If, after repeated warnings, you continue to disobey the rules of the school, you will be suspended from school and may be dismissed from the International Student Program and sent home.
Homestay: If, after repeated warnings, you continue to disobey the homestay guidelines and rules, you may be dismissed from the International Program and sent home.
Damage to Property: If you neglectfully, accidentally, or willfully damage property at home, school or the community, your parents will be notified and billed for the amount of the damage.
Chores in the Homestay:
Your host family will welcome you into their home as a member of the family. This means that you will be treated more informally than a “guest” would be. Families appreciate it when you offer to help in the home by keeping your room clean and doing general chores, such as setting the table, doing the dishes, or helping to prepare dinner. As a family member, you may be asked to make your own breakfast and lunch, or do your own laundry because this is what most family members do.
Remember, you are not staying in a hotel where maid services are provided and your host family members are not there to act as servants. You are a “member” of their family during your stay.
Helping with these chores can also give you the opportunity to talk to a family member, to practice your English and to be part of the family.
Three meals per day are normal. If parents happen to be away then food would be made available for you to prepare. Often, Canadian students prepare their own lunches to take to school.
Weekdays, breakfast is a quick, light meal. Families may prepare breakfast together. This meal may include bread/toast, juice/milk, cereal/eggs/jam, etc.
Lunch may include sandwiches, raw vegetable, cookies, milk/juice, fruit.
Dinners may include rice, meat, cooked vegetables, salad and dessert.
Your host family will ask you what foods you like and dislike, so that they can try to meet your needs. You should politely inform your host family if you do not like a particular food or have any food allergies.
You might offer to share your culture by preparing a dinner for your host family.
Ask permission to use the telephone.
Do not talk for a long time (more than fifteen minutes).
Do not place calls after 10:00 pm.
Pay for all long distance calls you make.
Many homes will have internet connection, others may not – it is not an expectation that all host families will provide internet for students.
We advise our homestay families not to sign for mobile phones.
You may choose to watch television and take part in other family entertainment during normal hours just like other family members. By doing this, your English will improve rapidly, and you will feel more comfortable with the family.
Do not rely on your host family to drive you everywhere. They are not expected to do this.
Use public transportation (bus) or bicycle when possible.
If you live outside the normal school catchment area, your homestay parent will show you how to get to and from school using public transport or make arrangements for your transportation.
The homestay parent may be available to drive you to activities at the school or the community if you make polite and reasonable requests. Remember, the host families are not expected to drive you to activities or school but may do so at times if they can.
The host family or school will provide transportation to the hospital or to the doctor if you are sick or injured.
You will have your own room that will be furnished with a bed, dresser, closet, mattress, pillow and bed linens. Your room will have an adequate study area with a suitable lamp, chair and desk. In some homes, if there is no desk in your room, a study area will be available.
You and your homestay parents will need to talk about how much time you’ll want to spend alone. Respecting privacy is important, but too much time spent alone or writing/talking in your own language means less time spent practicing English.
Christmas/Spring Break Absence
No deduction is made in homestay payment if a student leaves the homestay for vacation. The full month’s homestay is expected to be paid to the host family. If there is any deduction, it will be at the discretion of the homestay parents. It is also expected that no additional homestay fee will be charged to hold your room for you provided the full month homestay fee has been paid in advance.
You should find out what your family’s expectations are concerning the use of the bathroom. It is important to know when you can shower or bathe and for how long. It is not necessary for you to wait until your host parents have showered before taking your shower, but you should be sure to leave enough hot water for everybody. You should not take showers after 10:00 pm if it disturbs the family.
Your family will provide necessary bathroom items such as toilet paper, soap and towels but you will need to supply your own personal items such as toothpaste, shampoo and hand cream.
You should try to leave the bathroom clean and dry after you use it.
If you are under the age of 19 in British Columbia it is illegal to buy cigarettes. Students cannot smoke on school property or in their host family’s home. If you are a smoker, we must have a letter on file from your parents giving you permission to smoke.
Please keep the International Office informed of any concerns or issues that arise with your homestay. If you ever feel uncertain or uncomfortable about a situation, please contact our office.