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Moonrise, a co-learning space for kids, opening in Decatur in November

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Moonrise, a co-learning space for kids, opening in Decatur in November

A rendering of Moonrise shows the member library and seating that will be available in the space. Moonrise will open in Decatur on Nov. 13 and be like a coworking space for kids. Photo submitted by Chris Turner.

Decatur, GA — A new space where children can hang out and learn is opening in Decatur on Nov. 13. Chris Turner, founder of the new business, described Moonrise as a coworking and co-learning space for kids, where children can learn new things, work on school work, and socialize.

“The purpose of it stemmed from me trying to find a place for my son to learn that wasn’t home and wasn’t school,” Turner said. “We homeschool my son but found that while my wife and I have all kinds of places that we can go to do our work during the day, including coffee shops and coworking spaces, really there weren’t any places for us to take our kids to go and learn.”

This seemed like an important problem for Turner to solve and an important thing to give his kids, and others, to have them learn in a space that’s outside of home and school.

Similar to a coworking space, Moonrise will provide comfortable seating and Wi-Fi, along with some additional equipment and programming.

“When the goal is learning, you have to provide a lot more stimuli and things for them to engage with so that they’re not just sitting in a room and doing work on a screen all day, which is still partially the case,” Turner said. “There’s nothing wrong with online learning, but we wanted to provide a lot more stimuli, both in terms of the learning materials in the space and also ways to socialize and make friends while they’re here.”

Moonrise will have a few different zones including a makers space, which will be like an arts and crafts area, but mainly a space where kids can create things with their hands.

There will also be a kids’ café with healthy snacks and drinks. Reading nooks will also be available throughout Moonrise and a library will be available for members.

Additionally, Moonrise will have a podcast studio that will be a production studio where students can create online content.

Moonrise will offer a membership, like a coworking space or gym, and will be only open to members, Turner said. The space is geared toward kids ages five to 17.

“Our model is unlimited drop-ins for $250 a month,” Turner said. “The typical member is probably going to spend between one and three hours at Moonrise per visit. We’ll see how it’s utilized and how often.”

He added that one thing that makes Moonrise unique is that parents are not allowed in the buildings during a regular drop in.

“You drop your kids with us, and we have learning guides, who are essentially like personal trainers for the mind,” Turner said. “Our guides are trained to meet kids where they are and help them accomplish their learning goals, and get used to how to use the equipment in the space, and also occasionally to host workshops and classes.”

Moonrise will have an average staff to child ratio of 12:1. The culture of the agency and self-direction in the members, and the blended age groups reinforce learning as older members help younger ones, according to the Moonrise website.

Parents will use the Moonrise app drop kids off and pick them up. They will press a button on the app, similar to Uber, that will say “drop in,” Turner said.

“Wherever you are, we geo-locate you and see how far away you are from the space. We tell you the approximate that you’ll be at the space and at that point reserve your spot there,” he said. “Even if other people try to drop in, we hold your spot unless you click cancel. When you arrive, all of our guides inside also have the app and are notified when you are pulling up to the space. That allows our guides to meet you outside and bring your kids inside the space.”

The guides will confirm that kids have been successfully entered the building. Moonrise will have capacity for 60 kids at a time. At the end of October, there were about 375 kids on the waiting list.

Turner’s short-term goal for Moonrise is to help integrate kids into society, but do it safely.

“In the short term, we’re trying to provide space for kids in the real world where they can be exposed to how the world really works, safely,” Turner said. “Since most people are doing their work increasingly at coffee shops, and remotely at coworking spaces. This, to me, is a closer step to reality for kids. While they’re there, we want them to follow their interests and learn about the things that they are excited about and kind of become obsessed with things. Everything that we do is designed to give them creativity, freedom and independence.”

He hopes to eventually open more locations and expand to Moonrise’s reach to where the learning guides would be located throughout the city, and metro Atlanta, at places like Fernbank Museum or the Atlanta Zoo.

“It’s just creating almost like a parallel world that’s safe for kids in reality, in addition to the one that we have right now,” Turner said.

Turner has been fascinated with the world of education for a while. About seven years ago, Turner tried to launch an education technology app, but he didn’t know how to code at the time. He was met with large quotes and long timelines from agencies to develop his app.

“I ended up learning how to code myself and built an early version of that app in about 10 days. I ended up building a company called Tenrocket to build apps for other founders in 10 days,” Turner said. “I then sold that in 2017 so that I could get back into the world of education. When I got back into that world, it happened to coincide with when I had kids.”

As Turner and his wife began looking at schools for their children, he was surprised that schools hadn’t changed much since he was in school.

“When we would go and tour even some of the best schools in Atlanta, I was shocked that parents were still dropping their kids off at 8 a.m., picking them up at 3 p.m., that schools were still, for the most part, segmented by ages, and that the model of sitting and passively consuming content was still present,” Turner said.

He added that some have tried to improve the education system through education technology and putting learning online in personalized, engaging ways, and through alternative schools.

“The problem with edtech is you lack some of the benefits of a school,” Turner said. “Namely, a place to socialize and for parents, a place to have your kids go an learn during the day so that you can work.”

Alternative schools have solved the second problem, he added, but in order to put kids into an alternative school, parents may have to take them out of what they’re already doing.

“They require a choice for you to make that full call and fully adopt that model, instead of dipping your toes into something that has a ton of importance,” Turner said. “The cool thing about Moonrise is you don’t have to fully adopt our model of learning, full stop. You can keep your kids in traditional public schools and still send them to Moonrise after school or in the evenings or weekends or summers.”

Moonrise will be open from every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., including weekends and summers. The space is located at 116 E. Trinity Place, next to Ponko Chicken and Decatur City Hall. Moonrise has two entrances — one off of Church Street and the other on East Trinity Place.

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