Distance Learning Tips: How Host Families Can Support International Students’ Online Learning

As school districts continue to finalize their operational plans for the start of school in the fall, many schools may choose to have a temporary period of online learning or a hybrid learning model with both in-person and virtual instruction. While it is up to teachers and schools to create online classrooms, lessons, and activities, host family guidance is necessary for international students to make the most use out of their time.

Here we highlight some tips for navigating this new frontier of online education with your international student.

Limit Distraction
During study time, limiting the use of the devices, other than what is needed to complete their work, until their schoolwork is done helps keep students focused. If you and your student can agree to have scheduled breaks, where they can use their digital devices, but this should be a limited amount of time, and once finished, students should return to work.

Make Space for Learning
Another way to limit distractions is to have a dedicated area for studying and work. As many adults have a specific area of the home for work, and students should have a similar space for their work. International students achieve their best work in a quiet, comfortable, and calm area strictly devoted to learning. This space should be a different spot than where they usually play games or watch television.

Maintaining Routines Routines and schedules are crucial for students at school, and this is no different when they are learning from home. International students function the best when they maintain a routine as close to normal as possible; this is especially important if their school adopts a hybrid model of learning. Switching routines from one week to another can be disorienting for many of us, so encourage your student to set alarms for the same time on weekdays regardless of whether they are learning from home or at school that day. Lunchtimes and gym class are two periods that students will miss the most while at home, so remind your international student to get up, get some fresh air outside, and have regular mealtimes.

Socializing with Friends and Other Students
At school, students spend a lot of time interacting with classmates and friends throughout the day. International students should maintain social contact with their friends for their mental and physical health. Students should be encouraged to interact with friends online and beyond just social media. Video chats are more personal and interactive than text messaging, and it allows a group of friends to hang out simultaneously.

Screen Time for Learning
Overuse of screen time can have adverse impacts on the brain, such as blurry vision and headaches. While some schoolwork will require screens and devices, you can also have your international student ask to have some assignments printed and receive hard copies. This way, your international student can have a break away from staring at their screen.

Things to Keep in Mind
It’s easy to have your days blend into each other when working and studying at home for days at a time. But it’s important to remind them that your student’s education still comes first. Obligations like class assignments, grades, tests, state exams, SATs, and ACTs aren’t going away just because classes have moved online. Having a schedule with important dates visible around the house is a great reminder!

Check out our homestay blog for more information on Cambridge Network as a residential provider, tips for hosting, and our host testimonials. If you’re interested in hosting an international student, please fill out an inquiry form!

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