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We are thrilled to announce that we have been named “Best Daycare” in Northern Virginia by Virginia Living magazine! We are so thankful to all our wonderful families who voted for us. This honor was chosen from the results of the “Best of Virginia Reader’s Survey” for 2019. Readers voted for their favorites in over 100 categories.

What makes us the best daycare around?

Sparkles! provides child care and educational opportunities to families who live and work near Crystal City and Fair Oaks. We have tutoring services, before and after school programs, pre-k STEAM and day camps available to our students.

Our academic programs for younger students support kindergarten readiness initiatives, because pre-K education is more important than ever. We also provide engaging programming for school-aged students. Flexible hours provide safe and reliable child care services designed to meet the needs of busy families. Our core values are commitment, excellence, leadership, passion, teamwork and trust.

We strive to serve as a trusted extension of your family, providing the best daycare experience in a secure and nurturing environment.

We are committed to bringing top-notch care to all our Sparkles! families, and it’s an honor that you feel we are living up to that! Your votes mean a lot to us, but it’s even more meaningful that you trust us to care for and educate your children day after day. Thank you for sharing your kids with us!

If you’d like to schedule a tour to see what makes us the best daycare choice, contact our Fair Oaks or Crystal City location.

About Virginia Living Magazine

You can find all Best of Virginia reader favorites in their May print edition. Looking for a restaurant recommendation? Maybe you want to take a weekend trip? Need a family-friendly place to take the kids? This magazine lists all the best places in the state. The recommendations come from people just like you, so having this list is like getting a recommendation from a friend or neighbor. Keep this magazine as a handy guide to find hidden gems throughout Virginia all year long.

The post Sparkles! Named “Best Daycare in Northern Virginia” appeared first on Fairfax and Arlington Child Care | Sparkles! Early Learning Academy.

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Virginia Living’s 8th annual “Best of Virginia Reader’s Survey” is open, and we’d love to have your vote! Those who matter most, our Sparkles! families, help choose the winners of this much-anticipated competition. Please take a moment to:

  1. Click to open survey & select “Northern Virginia” region
  2. Scroll to #50 Best Daycare and Vote “Sparkles! Early Learning Academy”
  3. Share this post on your social media

The survey includes over 100 categories, covering everything from best dessert menu to best charity, so make sure to support all of your local favorites. Survey is open until 11:59 pm, January 31. Limit one ballot per person; winners will be announced in Virginia Living’s May issue. Thank you to all who choose to recognize us this year!

The post Vote Sparkles! for Virginia Living’s “Best Day Care 2019” appeared first on Fairfax and Arlington Child Care | Sparkles! Early Learning Academy.

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Sparkles is proud to be an approved Child Care Assistance and Referral Program (CCAR) provider! This Fairfax County Department of Family Services’ Office for Children program provides childcare subsidies for eligible families, and offers parents resources for finding quality care.

If you live in Fairfax and need assistance paying for childcare,  click here to apply for tuition assistance. You can also call CCAR at 703-449-8484.

Fairfax County Daycare Tuition Assistance Eligibility Requirements:

  • Families with low and moderate income who work or are in training (see chart below) whose children are under age 13 or under age 18 if child has special needs.
  • Families that receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) *.
  • Families that participate in the Virginia Initiative for Employment Not Welfare (VIEW) * program.
  • Families that care for Fairfax County children who are in Foster Care.
  • Families that are part of the Child Protective Services system.
  • Families with children with special needs (up to age 18).
  • Homeless families that apply while they are in a shelter.
  • Teen parents working towards the completion of high school or pursuing a GED.

The post Need tuition assistance? Help available for qualifying families in Fairfax appeared first on Fairfax and Arlington Child Care | Sparkles! Early Learning Academy.

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Thanks to all of the parents who participated in Sparkles! Early Learning Academy’s “Connect and Win” contest! Recently, participants connected with Sparkles! online, submitting multiple entries by watching videos, viewing our Instagram page, and more.

Hundreds of local parents submitted over 1,000 entries during its month-long duration, with a winner randomly selected each week to receive a $25 Amazon gift card. We want to give a big thank you to all who connected with us, and a special congratulations to our winners, Veronica from D.C., Brandy from Arlington, and Sarah from Woodbridge!

Follow Sparkles! Early Learning Academy on Facebook and Instagram for the updates on our next contest, and for news from your child’s classroom.  

The post Local Parents Connect with Sparkles! Online appeared first on Fairfax and Arlington Child Care | Sparkles! Early Learning Academy.

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While we have a few summer-like days ahead of us, the calendar tells us it is fall. Which seems like a good time to remind everyone of our inclement weather policy.

Sparkles generally follows Federal Government closings. However, safety is our top priority and we will close whenever conditions warrant it. In the event of weather-related closings or delayed openings, we will post an alert to the main phone line for your center by 5:30 am. You can also find alerts on the homepage of our website and on Facebook. For weather-related early closings, we will also provide parents with a two-hour notice. As always, if you have any questions or concerns people feel free to contact your center directly. Happy fall!

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Parenting tips, family-friendly activities and the latest classroom news await every time that you explore our website or social media. This month, connecting with Sparkles! is even more rewarding, with a chance to win one of three (3) $25 Amazon gift cards. Enter with the click of a button, and then explore a little more–visiting our Instagram, watching a craft-making video, checking out Facebook posts, sharing contest info–for additional chances to win.

Starting next week, we will announce a new winner every Wednesday, through September 26, 2018. Winners will be selected at random, and must be over age 18 and live in the Washington, D.C. area (Northern Virginia, Southern Maryland and District of Columbia) to be eligible. One prize per household.

Get started below. Good luck!

Get the Sparkles Connection & Win!

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As parents and educators, one of our favorite holidays is the Virginia Sales Tax Holiday, when you can stock up on back-to-school goodies tax-free. This year, it runs Friday, Aug. 3 through Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. For these three days, pay no sales tax on qualifying items, such as school items, clothing, footwear, emergency preparedness supplies and Energy Star™ and WaterSense™ products. See what items are eligible (please note, links go to the Virginia Tax site to ensure that you get the most up-to-date information).

For a more detailed listing of qualifying items, read the 2018 Combined Sales Tax Holiday Guidelines. Also, if your child will be going to elementary school this fall, you may want to see if their teacher has a classroom “wish list” posted, and add a few of them to your cart this weekend.

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Join us Monday, June 18 for one of our favorite events of the year–Summer Kick-off ! From 4-6 pm, our Fair Oaks center will transform into a festival, complete with:

  • Moonbounce
  • Face painting
  • Icee Machine & Ice Pops
  • Music
  • Refreshments

Parents, have those cameras ready; there are sure to be tons of Insta-worthy moments. (Inviting friends? Fill out our referral form to be eligible to receive a week of free tuition if they join the Sparkles family.)

Not yet a Sparkles parent? Come see what all the buzz is about. Bring the kids, meet other parents, explore our center and meet the Sparkles team. As an extra thank you for joining the fun, we will also be offering enrollment specials during the festival.

Free to attend. Please RSVP so that we have enough goodies for all!

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Sparkles is proud to be an approved Child Care Assistance and Referral Program (CCAR) provider!

This Fairfax County Department of Family Services’ Office for Children program helps parents find quality providers, with guides and seminars on choosing a childcare center, and offers tuition assistance for qualifying families (requirements listed below).

Visit CCAR to see a full list of resources. If you need assistance paying for childcare,  click here to view eligibility guidelines and start the application process. You can also call CCAR at 703-449-8484.

Fairfax County Daycare Tuition Assistance Eligibility Requirements:

  • Eligibility Requirements
  • Families with low and moderate income who work or are in training (see chart below) whose children are under age 13 or under age 18 if child has special needs.
  • Families that receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) *.
  • Families that participate in the Virginia Initiative for Employment Not Welfare (VIEW) * program.
  • Families that care for Fairfax County children who are in Foster Care.
  • Families that are part of the Child Protective Services system.
  • Families with children with special needs (up to age 18).
  • Homeless families that apply while they are in a shelter.
  • Teen parents working towards the completion of high school or pursuing a GED.
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You hear a lot about the value of innovative thinking—it can be the key to success at school.  At Sparkles! Early Learning Academy, we encourage children to problem solve and innovate right from the start. But the learning adventure does not have to stop at school! Here are three ideas to inspire curious and creative kids at home:

  • Make Learning Fun: Children learn a tremendous amount when “playing;” chances are, you are doing this without even thinking about it, on a regular basis. Board games, dress up, reenacting scenes from a favorite movie, building blocks; fun and learning go hand-in-hand for young children. Through play, children:
        • Observe cause and effect
        • Explore possibilities rather than seeing “one right way”
        • Turn problems into fun challenges
        • Increase attention span and focus
        • Practice taking turns and listening
  • Encourage Inquiry & Investigation: Asking questions is good, and letting children seek the answers gives confidence and problem-solving skills. Sparkles! uses project-based investigations of topics that are relevant to children’s everyday experiences. Children raise questions about the topic, and, through exploration and discovery, they find answers to their questions. Here is an example of how we might tackle the concept of relative size by letting students explore the world around them. This can easily be done at home, as well.  (To tie into your child’s lessons, login to the Brightwheel app for pictures and reports from the day.)  
      • We ask the children what they know about Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and then read the book. The story’s focus on finding the size that is “just right” is a natural lead in to discussions and questions about relative size.
      • We place t-shirts of various sizes around the room, and ask the children what difference they see between, and what shapes they see on, the shirts.
      • Next, children get to explore the clothes and try them on over their outfits. What do they notice?
      • We’ll take away or add clothes and invite them to discover what is different, and draw what they think is missing or added.
      • Dressed in the t-shirts, the children are invited to put on a play, recreating the size variations explored in the book.
      • Then, we’ll change our exploration of size, putting out measuring tools, such as a yardstick and a ruler, and ask the same questions as before, letting the children discover the answers through playing with the tools.
      • Changing tools again, measuring cups come out so the children can make small, medium, and large “biscuits” out of playdough, asking what differences they notice.
  • Apply Learning in Many Areas:  By applying lessons to multiple areas of exploration and learning, children come to understand that knowledge and skills can be applied in new situations. In the Goldilocks and the Three Bears example above, we explored size through hands on activities (making biscuits), social interaction (putting on a play), observation and manipulation of differences (t-shirt and tool sizes), language arts (reading the book), and art (drawing what size is missing).

At home, you could enjoy a book together that encourages innovation, like “If I Built a Car.” Next up, build a LEGO creation together, which sharpens spatial    thinking, a foundation for physics and engineering. If you are working from instructions, have your child read along.  Question why a piece might go where it does, and what should come next. Then, bring the lessons to life with a family trip to the National Building Museum in D.C.  Strolling to Pitango for gelato afterwards is purely optional, but highly recommended.  

By allowing children to play and explore questions, and providing connections between different areas of knowledge, we can encourage children to view challenges as opportunities to innovate and problem solve. Now that we have shared a few ways that Sparkles! encourages innovation, tell us. . . what are your favorite ways to encourage your child’s natural sense of curiosity?

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