By on May 5th, 2017

Helping Your International Student Adapt to American School

No matter what you remember about school, you probably recall that it could be quite the challenge at times. The rigors of academia and trying to “fit in” are just two daily features you may recall from those days.

Your international student is going to face these same challenges and many more, so make sure you understand the following ways to help them adapt.

Understanding American Sports

American sports are a big part of American school. For most, this means football and basketball, but every school has their own versions of the ones they excel at the most.

Most schools around the world have sports programs, but they often aren’t as extensive or as big a deal as they are here in the U.S. Your student may have never seen something like a school football stadium that was constructed solely for its students.

Early on, it might help to explain some of these sports to your international student, so they’ll feel more comfortable going to the games. As you probably remember, school games are a big part of socializing, which means your student shouldn’t miss out.

Of course, they may want to go out for a sports team, too. That’s something we’ll cover a bit more in a moment.

Tell Them About Homecoming, Prom, and Other Dances

Another big difference between American school and many others is that ours have dances throughout the year. Once again, this isn’t some minor difference, either. At every school in America, homecoming and prom are two very big events. You don’t want your international student to feel as though they missed out simply because they didn’t sufficiently understand the event beforehand.

Of course, depending on where they’re from, something like a dance may not be outside of what their culture would deep appropriate. Nonetheless, this is all the more reason to explain it to them.

Encourage Them to Join Groups

International students often have a hard time making friends. A lot of times, it’s no one’s fault. Every student is doing their best to maintain a social life, do their schoolwork, excel at sports, maybe hold down a job, and much more. It’s easy for these new students to slip through the cracks.

By joining an extracurricular group or going out for a sport, they’ll have a much easier time meeting people and making friends.

Let Them Know It’s Okay to Invite Friends Over

Even when your international student is plenty comfortable with you, your family, and your home, they may have a hard time treating your house like it’s really theirs. This, in turn, could hurt their social life because they’re not inviting friends over, something every American student does often.

To avoid this problem, let them know early on that you would love for them to invite friends over. While you might have some ground rules about this (making sure you’re told a day in advance, the house has to be cleaned first, etc.), giving them the option to have friends visit will go a long way toward helping them in school.

Speak with Their Teachers

Make sure you speak with the teachers who will be having your international students in class. Give them your contact information and ask them to call or email you if they sense your student is having any problems adapting to school.

This could happen even if their grades are perfect, which is why it can help to have a teacher’s perspective working for you. They may notice that your student sits alone at lunch or is otherwise having trouble making friends.