What have you done that has made your experience as a boarding home parent more successful?
Cs, PNG: We hold ‘family’ devotions during dinner. Usually, after most everyone is done eating, we share ‘high’ and ‘low’ parts of the day and then lead into a 5-10 minute devotion, depending on the interaction. Many times, several questions are generated as a result. This is what we did as a family with our 4 sons and we enjoy being able to continue with this important time.
Gs, PNG: We were told by many people to not take on jobs beyond that of being boarding home parents, to be extremely picky with how much time you give to other ventures, at least for the first six months. We have taken this advice, and the students have responded positively. At the end of the day, when we work the hardest, we have enough energy to engage and help out. Our schedules are swapped with our peers in other departments since our downtime is in the mornings. Not taking extra work has been vital to our survival and the students’.
What are one or two things you have done that you feel has made the kids’ experience of being in a boarding home more successful?
Cs, PNG: We have used your ideas about creating a ‘passport country tradition’ evening for each of the kids. We tried to do one per student per term. We had a PNG, Korean, Australian, German, and of course American night. We made special food-specific dinners (the best we could do), and the student generally helped with the dinner as well — usually volunteered and was excited. Then we would ask questions during dinner and talk about traditions and stereotypes, and it really opened up a lot of dialogue and excitement. We had many reviews of that being their most special times. (For the Korean night, our Korean girl even had 2 of the local Korean families help cook special parts of the meal for us that night).
We make it a point to get up early and personally greet each teen before they head off to school. We believe that to have them hear ‘words of life’ to start their day, even though all they might say in return is a slight mumble, will help them mentally and spiritually. We also do our best to encourage them to eat something before leaving, even if it is just grabbing a banana, muffin, or glass of milk. Our goal is to start their day physically and mentally with love and encouragement and a ‘jump start.’ This is not always easy for us as Boarding Home Parents as we go to bed rather late at times, and the kids leave early and at all different shifts, depending on their school schedules. But, we make it a point to do this, and we believe we have seen an improvement in their grades and attitudes over the last term.