Focus on Feedback Question #3


House Rules: What do your house rules look like? What rule works like a charm? What rule presented challenges and how did you resolve them?


Laugh, Sing, Dance, Sleep, Eat, Study, Tell Jokes, Be Nice, Call your Mom (she misses you), Say, “Please” and Thank you”, and “you’re Welcome” as much as possible!

—(excerpt from host rules on file)

After welcoming a WCC International Programs student into your home, the second step for hosts is to explain the household rules. While the Homestay Program Expectations apply to everyone in the program, house rules are specific to the family’s own needs and values. For the new student, faced with a new culture and perhaps limited fluency with the language, a clear set of guidelines to follow can be a lifesaver.

Before your student arrives would be a good time to review your House Rules and your expectations. Rules act as stepping stones toward our goals of family and home life. They routinely meet our needs by keeping our family safe, healthy, ethical, and socially adept. When relating to a student, rules may help eliminate confusion, diminish power struggles and support reasoned communication. Open discussions about House Rules can provide a platform to share and learn one another’s expectations.

Some homestay hosts go straight to the rules as soon as the student walks in the door, others hold off until the student recovers from jet lag or until after school starts, and some just communicate the rules according to the situation. The “right way” is the one that works with your family. Direct, simple rules provide a space for your student to be relaxed and confident within your family and your homestay. Writing down your rules, while not absolutely necessary, is often helpful to the student because it allows an opportunity to translate them in a more relaxed fashion.

Below are the four host responses we received to our recent ‘Focus on Feedback’ post about rules. Thank you so much for participating in these discussions. Also included are a few samples of rules gleaned from an informal internet search and resource links if you want to explore further.

Host Responses

  1. This is my rule [for] my student — Laugh, Sing, Dance, Sleep, Eat, Study, Tell Jokes, Be Nice, Call your Mom (she misses you), Say, “Please” and Thank you”, and “you’re Welcome” as much as possible!     And enjoy one another with no fights. Hahaha   Thanks for this email [blog post] I will show it to my students.
  2. Sharing my rules made me take a good look at them. My kid’s headed off to college. I think my approach will change. And probably my rules, too. For now, they go something like this: EXPECTATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS My goal is to provide serious students with a safe, comfortable, and supportive place to live and study, while attending WCC.
  3. To live in my Homestay, you are required to: -KEEP the front door locked and take your key with you. Do not share your house key. -SPEND at least four nights a week here during school sessions (Required if you are underage. Suggested if older). I prefer Monday through Thursday as these are also nights I prepare dinner and generally try to be available. -TELL me where you are staying (a physical address) and for how long in case of an emergency. You do not need my permission to go anywhere–just common courtesy when you do. -RESPECT the “Quiet” curfew of ____ every night. (Choose time up until 12am with roommate.) This means no loud convo’s, furniture moving, phone, music, TV, computer games, FaceTime or friends, etc. after ‘quiet’ curfew. You can stay up as late as you want as long as you respect the rest of the household. -CLEAN upstairs rooms once a week with your housemate as well as pick up after yourself daily–this means dishes, spills, garbage, etc. Cleaning day _____________ (your choice). Also please choose a laundry day _________________. Coordinating these chores with your roommate will make your life easier. -READ and follow guidelines for furnishings and equipment if posted in each room. -HELP clean up kitchen and put away food after ‘Family’ dinners. _________________ I like for my student to clean up her messes in the shared areas like kitchen and bathroom, and they are good about it. I try to set the example by cleaning up my own messes in the same shared areas. Some things are better ‘caught’ than taught.
  4. Subject: House rules 1. Notify the host if you are not coming home for dinner or will be staying out for the night. 2. Chores are to set, help load unload dishwasher, put condiments away. 3. Keep room picked up. 4. Wash sheets once a week. 5. Help keep Bathroom clean. 6. If you cook clean up after yourself.

“Avoiding setting too strong rules is the best way not to have problems with your own rules.”  —Eraldo Banovac

Rules Excerpts From Homestays Around The World

Welcome to our home We are happy to invite you into our home and we hope you will enjoy your time here with us. So that everyone can live happily in this home together we all try to abide by the house rules. My name is_________________ but if you want to, you can call me Mum. The names of the other family members are__________________ .   Contact phone numbers: __________________   Mobile: __________________  Your new address is: __________________   The Bus number to your College is: __________________ .

Read more at:

Guidebook for Surviving Our Household

Rule #1!

Never be afraid to ask questions about anything that you do not understand! We know that we often use slang and colloquial expressions that are hard to understand. Do not hesitate to say that you don’t understand us and that you need for us to talk slower or repeat something that we have said.

Read more at:


All families have rules, some are more important than others. Your family may have some special rules. … Be a part of the family. Respect them and be friendly. You will be treated the same way.

Tell your host family where you are going and what you are doing. If you are not coming home for a meal, please advise your host before 5:00 pm or earlier. When you are staying out, leave a note with a telephone contact number and address.

Respect the home and personal property of the family. Always ask before borrowing or using any household items. Inform your hosts if something is damaged or broken. You do not pay for accidental damage but you should replace something if you have been careless.

Help to keep your home safe and secure. Lock windows and doors, switch off heaters and electrical appliances when not in use.

People are the same everywhere! They like to be respected. They like to be kind and to have kindness shown to them. People like to learn about each other. Understand that the basic rule of courtesy and your homestay will be an enjoyable one.

Read more: Traditional American Rules

If you turn it on, turn it off. If you unlock it, lock it up. If you break it, admit it. If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can. If you borrow it, return it. If you value it, take care of it. If you make a mess, clean it up. If you move it, put it back. If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it. If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone. If it’s none of your business, don’t ask questions. Based on Golden Rule Principles, Source Unknown

Top Ten House Rules in Recent UK Survey: 1. No shoes on the couch 2. Always flush the toilet 3. Take your shoes off in the house 4. Put clothes in the laundry basket 5. Turn off the lights when you’re not using a room 6. Empty the bath when you’re done (this must be a British thing) 7. Don’t leave wet towels on the floor 8. No swearing 9. Turn off the TV when you’re not watching it 10. Put the toilet seat down

Read more:

We hope you’ve enjoyed this sampling of rules. Every homestay is unique. The best rules for your homestay are the ones that work! As always, thank you for reading. Please use the side bar link to access WCC Homestay Program information. If you have further comments or ideas, please share them with us at

“It is the beginning of wisdom when you recognize that the best you can do is choose which rules you want to live by…” ― Wallace Stegner