Kelowna's very own,
Heritage Christian School International.

The Right Choice for
International Eductation.

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Downtown Kelowna, BC
Kelowna Vineyards, BC
Skiing at Big White
Kelowna Orchards, BC

Host Family Guidelines

Being a Host Family is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Below are some expectations from both you and the student.  If ever you feel you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

English Only Policy

All students are expected to speak English in your home.  It is considered to be impolite to speak another language in front of a Host Family.


Homestay families are interested in different cultures.  In Canada, the word ”family” could mean any of the following: a single person, two people who are living together but who are not married, a divorced or widowed person with children or a married couple with or without children.  Share a little bit about your family history with your student.

Leaving Your Homestay

If for some reason, your student feels they are not a good fit for your home and think that it is best if they move, we will give you one full month’s notice of their intent to move. Of course, we will try to work out any concerns that either the student or the host family may have.  The Homestay Coordinator will work on behalf of both parties.

Homestay Fees

The Homestay fee is $950 per month for Middle to High School Students and $950 per month for Elementary Students.  This will be paid directly to you on a monthly basis from the school or from an agent on behalf of the student.   Students are expected to pay for any damages that may take place during their stay.  Students are to let their Host Family know as soon as any damage is done.

Bus Passes

Older students wishing to use the City Bus may purchase monthly bus passes from City Hall, the Lotto Kiosk ticket center at Orchard Park Mall or Rexall Drugs on the corner of Hollywood Road and Hwy 33. Monthly bus passes are $45.00 per month, paid for by the student. If the student would like to purchas 10 tickets only, they are $20.25.

May I suggest that you encourage our older students to get a bus pass and take the bus whenever possible.  We do ask that you take your student to and from school, but as a student begins to make friends, get involved at the school and in extra-curricular activities, such as basketball practice, it may be beneficial for them to have a bus pass. For older students, they will feel more independent.  There will be days during the week when the student will participate in our English Club – usually held on Wednesdays at 3:15pm.  You will be receiving emails from Mrs. Amber Haas regarding the activity and if there is an unusual end time to the activity. Sometimes there will be hockey games or other activities that are on other days.  Please keep your eyes on your email for that information. 

Speaking English and Having Conversation

The more your student speaks English, the more quickly their English will improve.  Encourage them to be friendly and participate in some activity with the family, help prepare a meal and initiate conversation.  Discourage them from always just going to their room and closing the door.  It would be good for them to sit in the living room reading a book or watch TV. 

Helping with Household Tasks

Their bedroom is their responsibility.  They are to make their own bed and clean their room.  All students will have to be trained in this area whether they are younger or older.  Mention to them that they will need to change their bedding once per week. They can be asked to help the family with daily chores, such as, setting and clearing the table, washing and drying the dishes.  This is always a great time to have conversation, too. You will have to remind the from time to time that you are not their maid…in a nice way, of course.  They are to clean up after themselves, show initiative, and ask if they have questions. 


Their bedroom is their own private place.  It is always good to knock on the door if it is closed.  As in any home, it is always appreciated if there is respect for each other’s privacy.


It is expected that you will be provide three meals each day for your student. Depending on their age, they will need to be shown how to make their own breakfast and their own lunch to take to school.   If a student is old enough to be a bit more independent they will need to be encouraged to always be on time for supper and if they are going to arrive late or will not be coming home to eat, they need to tell you as soon as possible.

The food will be different from what they are accustomed to and the manner of eating will probably be as well.  Indeed, the initial smells and sights of the food can be the most unsettling part of switching cultures for some students.  Remember: trying new foods is part of the Homestay experience, but if they do not like a food, it’s okay for them to just say that whatever is not their favorite food. They may even have some recipes from their country that they would like to share with your family.    

It is always a good idea to ask again regarding any allergies to food.  They are so used to eating rice, as their main staple. Not having it on a daily basis, may be difficult to them, but that’s an easy fix.  If they are older, they may like to learn how to make it.  Rice can be made in larger amounts and put in baggies in the freezer as they desire.  That way, each day, they can take a baggie of rice out and take it for lunch. By the time their lunch hour rolls around, it will be thawed.  They may like to eat it with a seaweed sheets that can be bought at the Chinese grocery store or Superstore.

Remind them that it is common to have cereal and toast, coffee, tea, and juice for breakfast.  A more elaborate breakfast can involve eggs, oatmeal, or pancakes, but they are mostly eaten on the weekends when there can be a bit more preparation time.  Lunches generally involve sandwiches, juice, fruit, and/or cookies.

Initially, upon arrival in your home, you may want to walk them through the kitchen and show them what is available to them, ideas of what to make for lunch.  You can imagine walking into their kitchen and looking in the fridge and trying to figure out what to make.  It’s not easy. 

If you feel comfortable showing them how to make some of these items, I’m sure they would like that. They will soon find breakfast and lunch easy to prepare.  You will need to show them how to clean the kitchen to your expectations after using it.  Older students should not fall into the trap of skipping breakfast and taking a bag of chips for lunch.  They will need a lot of energy as they immerse themselves into a new language and culture.

In some cultures, people show appreciation for food by making a lot of noises.  In Canada, however, making loud noises while eating, chewing with your mouth open, or burping is considered rude.  Students may have to be reminded of some of these habits from time to time…in a nice way of course.


I suggest that you explain ‘how’ to use the bathroom in your home.  Bathrooms in Asian countries are usually all tiled and water can go over the floor without any problems as they have open showers – no curtains and drains in the middle of the floor for water to flow down.  So your student will need to be educated.  They need to be encouraged not to take long showers and use too much hot water.  A daily shower is common.  Generally, a shower should last no more than 10 minutes.  Students are used to staying up very late at night…and even early morning.  I suggest that you give them a cut off time of 10:00PM.  Remind them that all toilet paper and only toilet paper can be placed in the toilet.  In Asian countries, garbage cans are used for soiled toilet paper as their sewer systems cannot handle the load as in Canada.  They are expected to purchase all of your own toiletries, such as: soap, shampoo, conditioner (all hair products), shaver, shaving cream, toothpaste, plus all other personal items. 

** Remind the girls who use tampons or sanitary napkins for menstruation to wrap and place them in a garbage can after use rather than flushing them down the toilet. 


Students can be shown how to use the washer and dryer.  Again depending on their age, you may or may not want them to do their own laundry.


For older students, you can give them a key for the house.  They will need to be shown what your expectations are when they leave your home.   


When you go out with your student, and if you don’t mind, please take some pictures and send them along to me.  It’s always great to have some to choose from when putting some promotional material together.  Also, we will be putting together a video for the Japanese students that will be shown at their Grad in February 2017. Those pictures are wonderful memories to have.  Thank you for your help.


Explain to your student that using a house phone, local telephone calls are free, but to keep them short. They will need to ask their friends or families overseas not to phone them after 10:00PM.  In this day and age and with technology, Cell phones, Skype, Facebook and many other options are out there for students to connect with home. Students have been asked to inform their friends and family to phone at proper times so that there is no disturbance in the home late at night. 


They will soon realize that many Canadian families keep a dog or a cat or both as pets.  These animals usually live indoors and are very often treated as members of the family.  

Asking a friend to visit

Students should always ask you in advance if it is alright to have a visitor over.  They will need to be reminded that they and their friends must always speak English.  Occasionally, they may want a friend to sleep overnight.  This is always up to the homestay’s discretion.

Visits away from a Homestay

Older students need to always leave the name of the person and his/her telephone number where they will be when they go out.  They are not to disappear without telling you where you are going.  If they are going to be delayed, they will need to call you as it is better to call very late at night than not to call at all, as you may worry about them.  Students are expected to sleep overnight in their own bed.  It is not a common practice to sleep at a friend’s home.  They need to always ask permission.


This is the student’s medical insurance.  It is more of an all-inclusive medical program than BC Medical.  See their web page at www.guard.me. Each student on Guard.me has been given their card and their 3 copies of their claim form.  I suggest that you keep one of those copies handy.  If a student is in need of seeing a doctor, taking them to the Walk In Clinic at Superstore is the most convenient as they will not have to pay for it first.  You may want to bring their claim form, just in case they require it. 

Other expenses

Host families should include their student when going somewhere as a family.  If it is something out of the ordinary, with an extra cost because of their presence, the students are to pay. Host families do not pay for extra activities or outings.  For example: concerts, theatre, sport events, and skiing.  If you suggest eating a meal in a restaurant and an activity following, I suggest that you tell the student what the plan is, tell them an approximate cost, and ensure they bring their money.  If they do not come because of the cost, it is up to your discretion as to the next step.  If they choose to stay home, it is up to you to make sure they have food in the fridge to eat or suggest to them what they can make.     

Culture Shock

All of this change – from food to conversational patterns – will likely produce culture shock.  This is a period of disorientation and an anxiety as the two cultures clash within the student.  This can be quite overwhelming and cause many emotions to arise, but encourage your student to be very flexible and open-minded.  You can remind them that this is happening to others. They can talk to other students, you as their Host Family or me, their International Student Coordinator.  Then you can reassure them that better times will come. Enjoy your experience with your new student.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. Texting me is a great way to receive a quick answer. I am their custodian while they are in Canada. They are to let me know when they are leaving to go out of town or anything out of the ordinary.

Thank you for all that you do to make this program a success!