Preparing for Learning at Home: Support for Families

Getting started and finding support for returning to school.

Preparing to Return to School

Tips to Prepare Your Student to Succeed in a Virtual Environment

  • Have your student help you set up a space where they can work.
    • Your student may need space to use pencils, crayons, paper, scissors, and more.
    • When using a laptop, it should be on a flat and level surface. Laptop's should not be used on your student's lap as everyone can see them working when the camera is on.
    • Assure your student has a space where they can focus and concentrate.
  • Establish and maintain routines and expectations.
  • Balance screen time and non-screen time activities.


Virtual Learning Tips and Tricks

Learn about some of the technology applications students and classrooms may be using this fall. Videos are added regularly.

Technology Support for Families

Access technology videos and technology resources to help your student in the virtual learning environment.

Student and Family Support Desk

Technology support in multiple languages will be available for parents, guardians, and students.

Supporting Your Child with Digital Citizenship

All FCPS students are learning to become safe, ethical and responsible digital citizens. FCPS recognizes that schools and families both play a role in helping children develop the skills and behaviors needed to make positive contributions to the online community. During distance learning, parents and caregivers will play a critical role in monitoring and mentoring their children as they use technology to learn with others online. Children may test limits in new online learning spaces. Some children may have difficulty with self-regulation and this is a normal part of child development. Children may need support from families caregivers and their teachers.

Please reinforce with your child that the expectations outlined in the Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Appropriate Use of Fairfax County Public Schools’ Network and Internet Resources regulations will also apply to the interaction and participation during the Distance Learning Plan.

Digital Citizenship Standards

Digital Citizenship Resources

To learn more about self-regulation in relation to technology use and how you can help your child develop these skills, listen to this FCPS podcast.  FCPS instructional staff will work alongside families to support FCPS students in developing good digital citizenship behaviors and skills. Read more about the topics of Digital Citizenship and the FCPS Shared Responsibility Model.

FCPS has important tips and tools to help families and caregivers support their children:

  • Establish expectations for your home: Be proactive in establishing the rules and expectations. FCPS provides guidance and resources to get your family started.   
  • Choose Media Wisely: When choosing media, games, and apps for recreational use, choose wisely. FCPS recommends some questions you should be asking and what you need to know about the tools and media your child is using.  
  • Find a sense of media balance: Although students will be working more online, it is still important to help your child find a sense of media balance, eat a healthy diet, and have adequate sleep and exercise. Prioritizing school related screen time over recreational screen time will help.  
  • Learn together: FCPS provides an engaging interactive online course to spark family discussions about digital citizenship topics. We encourage families to use this time at home to take the course and open the lines of communication. 
  • Translated Resources: FCPS offers many tip sheets translated into multiple languages.

Check the FCPS digital citizenship website for more resources.

Helping Students Get Ready to Learn

Where will I learn best?

Families and caregivers can help children plan their day and set up their learning space.

Consider helping your child develop a plan for where they will learn, such as:

  • In the kitchen
  • In a bedroom
  • At a desk
  • At a table
  • A quiet place

When will I learn?

Consider helping your child plan when they will learn during the day, such as:

  • In the morning
  • In the afternoon
  • In the evening
  • At _______ o’clock
  • Different times spread throughout the day

Tip for Families: Help your child create a visible daily schedule.

How will I organize my time?

Consider helping your child organize their learning time. Considering having your child ask questions such as:

  • How long can I focus at a time?
  • How much time will I spend on each activity?
  • When will I take breaks?

What materials do I need?

Consider helping your child identify what supplies they might need, such as:

  • Paper or Notebook
  • Pencil
  • Highlighter
  • Markers
  • Timer
  • Device (laptop, computer, phone)

Helping Students Stay Engaged and Focused

Families and caregivers can help children stay engaged and focused on learning by helping students create goals.

Consider helping your child set short-term goals for learning each day and week. Consider having your child use the following prompts: 

  • My goals for today are:
  • My goals for this week are: 

Strategies to Support Student Learning

Everyone learns best in different ways. This way of learning is new for everyone. Consider helping your child try different strategies until they find what works best.  Remind them to be kind to themselves and others as we all learn and grow!

Families can help guide students through learning activities by suggesting your child use the following strategies:

  • Use your home language to help you understand and process your ideas.
  • Connect to what you already know to help you learn something new.
  • Make a schedule for your day. What will you work on and when? Check it off as you finish!
  • Set a timer for focused work time. Increase the minutes when you feel you can do more.
  • Break long tasks into smaller parts. Complete one part at a time. 
  • Schedule brain breaks and physical exercise into your day. 
  • How do you learn best? Use your strengths, be creative, and have fun learning! 


FCPS Distance Learning YouTube Channel

The language arts and mathematics instructional videos that are being aired on Apple 21 are now available on demand on the FCPS Distance Learning YouTube Channel found here. Teachers and parents now have access to playlists which support distance learning, the instructional packet sent home, and classroom teacher instruction. The site will be updated regularly as videos are developed and finalized. 

Additional Help and Support for Families

Frequently Asked Questions

Who to Contact

For Questions About Contact
Specific course, assignment, or learning resource Your student's teacher
Supports or accommodations for students with disabilities Your student's special education case manager or 504 school-based coordinator
Supports of accommodations for English learners Your student's ESOL teacher
Problem with an FCPS-issued laptop Your teacher will submit support ticket for student
Technology related problem or issue Your student's school-based technology specialist (SBTS) or Student Troubleshooting Guide
Personal, academic, or social emotional concern Your student's school counselor
Other issue related to distance learning Your student's principal or assistant principal

Support for Special Education

Support for English Learners

Language Learning:

It is important to practice reading, writing, listening and speaking every day.

Learning Apps:
  • Duolingo - Free language learning app.
    • If a student would like to create an account, parental permission is required.
    • If you have permission, create an account with your FCPS Google account (
  • Use FCPS Schools student login to access Google apps (Drive, Docs, Calendar)
  • Unite Books - free, no ads, no login, 40+ narration languages

Reference Materials:

Here are some tools to help you study, understand assignments, and stay organized.

English Dictionary:
Bilingual Dictionary:
Text to Speech & Speech to Text:
  • Google Calendar
  • Set daily/weekly goals and create a to-do list
  • Create a study space and a schedule


Take care of yourself and your family. Stay healthy and reduce stress.

Social-Emotional Wellness Supports

School-Based Social Emotional Learning and Wellness Resources During Distance Learning

School Counselors, School Psychologists, and School Social Workers are available to support students, families and staff during distance learning. They are supporting students, families and staff in many of the same ways as they did prior to distance learning, but it may look different now.

Here is what schools are doing to continue social emotional learning and  mental wellness:
  • Instructional activities addressing social and emotional skills and mental wellness topics are embedded in instruction to include school counseling and Health & PE lessons/activities.
  • Consultation for teachers is provided to support students’ social, emotional, and mental health needs in an instructional setting.
  • Individualized student and family support is available at all school levels to address social emotional learning, mental wellness, and access to basic needs.
  • Mental Wellness Consultation: Parents may schedule a 30-minute phone consultation with a school psychologist or school social worker, for either themselves or their middle or high school student. This is an opportunity for parents to receive guidance on how to support their student’s emotional well-being. For more information, click the following link: Mental Wellness Consultation

To learn more about these activities, please contact your student’s school counselor, school psychologist, or school social worker.;

Here is more information on what you can do to support your student at home:
  • The FCPS COVID-19 Website contains valuable information regarding how to talk with your child about the Coronavirus, managing stress, healthy coping, community and emergency mental health resources. For more information, click the following link: COVID-19 Mental Health & Community Resources website
  • Online training simulations are available to help you learn and recognize signs of distress, manage conversations, and connect your student/family to support services. For more information, click the following link: Kognito 
  • Video clips of FCPS students sharing their thoughts and tips on coping with Coronavirus. To view these videos, please click the following link: Student Voice: Coronavirus
  • Our Healthy Minds Blog will also be updated with entries throughout the closure: Healthy Minds Blog
  • In case of an emergency or for immediate assistance, please click on the following link: Mental Health Resources and Emergency Services Information
Additional Resources:

Supports for Students Without Reliable Access to Technology

The Distance Learning Plan (DLP) seeks to leverage technology to further learning opportunities and options. To accomplish this, an important component of the DLP is to address inequities in technology and internet access. 

  • High school - All high school students already have a personally-assigned laptop through the FCPSOn initiative. Mifi devices are being provided for students who do not have access to reliable internet.

  • Elementary and middle school - Laptops are being distributed to middle school students and to elementary students with identified technology needs. A limited number of Mifi devices will be available for students who do not have access to reliable internet.

Additionally, internet providers in the region have announced plans to expand low-cost internet services for residents. The FCPS Access to Technology webpage provides a summary of technology and internet resources available to families, including the service providers who offer special programs for access. Community internet access maps can also offer insights into where free wireless internet access is available in each community.

FCPS Parent Language Lines

FCPS language lines are available in eight different languages to assist parents who do not speak English as their first language. A school system employee will respond to your call in your preferred language within 24 hours, Monday through Friday. The caller will provide you with the requested information, arrange for you to speak with the appropriate school employee, or connect you with the resource that you are looking to find.

To use the parent information phone lines please call:

Amharic (አማርኛ): 571-423-4957

Arabic (arabic icon): 571-423-4952

Chinese (Chinese icon): 571-423-4953

Farsi (Farsi icon): 571-423-4954

Korean (Korean icon): 571-423-4951

Spanish (Spanish icon): 571-423-4950

Urdu (Urdu icon): 571-423-4955

Vietnamese (vietnamese icon): 571-423-4956

Look for More Tips and Resources on Social Media!