SmARTroom celebrated it's first anniversary in Maynard a couple of months ago. Our daughter has had a membership from the beginning, and we've found that she gets more out of it than we could have imagined in the beginning.
Sure there are cool projects and great parties there. Our daughter has enjoyed the Glow-in-the-Dark party, building events, and 3D printing days. She's joined in community building projects, and Halloween parties, and just drop ins. They have S.T.E.A.M. programing, so kids can learn some science, technology, engineering, art, and math using fun experiments in a fun space. She loves all of those things.
As parents, sometimes we fail to see the truly creative resources that are right in front of us, but our kids don't. If I ask my daughter if she wants to go to SmARTroom, she doesn't hesitate to say yes. But if I asked what she'd be doing there, she'd casually say, "I don't know," and that's just as it should be. The not knowing what you're going to do is a creative adventure in the making.
If you take advantage of it, one of the unexpected and insanely valuable benefits of SmARTroom is the responsibility it teaches kids. They have a certification process for their space that, if you pass it, proves that you know how to be responsible for your behavior in a public space. With certification, you are allowed to be in the space without parental supervision. For kids, that's such a rite of passage—to be able to go and be in a place without Mom and Dad watching your every move. It allows kids to learn to be responsible for their community and to be respectful of property and others.
My daughter and her best friend are particularly pleased that they are allowed to walk there together. They can even take along some money and go to Serendipity to get themselves some food. Many of us remember that kind of independence but can't figure out how to let our kids have it. This is a great start.
And how about the benefits to us as parents? Because my daughter is certified to be independent, I have been able to time doctor's appointments and errand runs with her visits to SmARTroom. She doesn't have to trudge through the grocery store with me, and I get my shopping done faster. In the meantime, she's working on creative projects.
And how about this... imagine that your kid comes home from school with homework that they can't quite figure out, and you have to make dinner. If the timing works out, why not take them to SmARTroom? The staff there can help sort through the homework while you're mashing potatoes and chopping vegetables.
Once you realize what a service SmARTroom is providing, you might want to get an annual membership , but you could start with $10 drop in visits. Either way, I don't think you'll regret the investment. We are so lucky to have this valuable family resource right here in Maynard.