New Reston day care hopes to rock kids’ world with music lessons

A new day care is coming to Reston that will teach kids how to read music, play instruments, and sing.

Cascades resident Tony Wininger is launching a Rock and Roll Daycare at 1835 Alexander Bell Drive, nestled between Sunrise Valley Drive and the Dulles Toll Road.

“The focus is music,” he told Reston Now.

Wininger’s interest in running the day care, which is looking to open on Sept. 27, was inspired by his 20-year-old daughter Madison, who is on the autism spectrum.

When she was 3 or 4, he decided to learn guitar after a developmental pediatrician told him she wouldn’t be able to speak. He thought that couldn’t be true, and he saw his daughter prove the doctor wrong.

The day care will serve kids up to age 6 with music lessons twice a day, both group and individual sessions.

Kids will learn songs to sing and how to play instruments ranging from drums and musical bells to keyboards and guitars. Students can even take some of the smaller instruments home with them, along with accompanying music books.

Research on the childhood development benefits of learning music has been mixed. Some studies question the existence of a connection, while others show positive effects on the social skills of kids as young as 1 and suggest learning music may encourage faster neurodevelopment than other activities.

For Wininger, seeing his own daughters grow and be influenced by music illustrated how perceptive kids can be. His younger daughter, Hope, showed off her drumming skills at age 5, and when Madison was younger, she could only speak a few words, but now, she can’t stop talking and singing.

One of the goals of the Rock and Roll Daycare program is for children to be able to read music fluently. Unique to Wininger’s locations will be a multicultural program where kids learn to sing songs from different countries each month in the original languages.

“I want this to be the…’it takes a village’ feel,” he said of the Reston day care, which features a main room, six enclosed rooms, restrooms, and an office.

The day care is one of 30 sites that Wininger expects to get licensed by the state. Other locations coming in the near future could include Arlington and Alexandria.

Rock and Roll Daycare was started in 2012 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by two musicians and is now moving to expand across the country with upcoming sites in New York, Indiana, and Texas, along with Wininger’s Virginia locations.

Wininger plans to limit electronic devices in his day cares to what is needed for staff. He also doesn’t want his locations to be limited by the day care environment.

He envisions additional programming, from concerts to date nights for parents, and wants to make use of his drumming and guitar skills for the day care and additional outreach. The kid-focused band Rocknoceros from Fairfax will perform at the Reston site on Sept. 28.

The cost per child will be $2,400 per month, which is higher than usual to retain staff, Wininger says, noting that candidates with education and musical experience are gravitating toward the openings. The day care is planning to hire two employees for every eight kids.

“We’re Montessori-inspired by the way we teach education,” Wininger said.

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