Teacher Turnover in Child Care Hurts Everyone


Published:

Each workday in North Carolina, more than 100,000 children spend their time in child care while their parents work. Finding the right setting for your child is an important decision - one that takes time and can be discouraging.

We are fortunate in North Carolina to have the "Star" rating system that gives parents a benchmark in helping to make the best decision. The 5-Star Rating System evaluates child care programs based on their licensing compliance history, program standards and teacher education. Higher stars indicate higher quality care. But the stars don't answer all the questions; each rating represents a large segment of the child-care quality spectrum. There is a great deal of variety within each star level, and there often is overlap across the ratings. For example, Smart Start, the state's nationally recognized early care and education initiative, considers 3-, 4- and 5-star ratings to indicate high quality care.

So, once a family has selected a few possible child care options, they have asked if the child care program is licensed, they have asked about the star rating and health department ratings, and checked out any complaints against the program, what's next?

One crucial element to consider is teacher turnover. And here's why. The most important element in a high quality child-care experience is the classroom teacher. All the toys in the world can't give a child what a great teacher can.

During the earliest years of life, children are developing attachments to the significant adults in their lives. Strong emotional attachments allow children to develop a sense of trust and to build healthy relationships with other people. When these attachments are not strong and secure, children may suffer the emotional consequences for the rest of their lives.

In an article titled "High Turnover of Child-care Teachers Hurts Everybody," written for Pennsylvania State University's Office of Public Information, Dr. Elizabeth Manlove, assistant professor of human development and family studies in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development writes: "High turnover in child care deprives children of one of the most crucial elements necessary for healthy development, ongoing relationships with a limited number of sensitive and caring adults who know the child well."

Before a child can learn, he must feel safe and free to make his needs known. When he develops a strong emotional bond with his teacher, he will have the best opportunity to explore and learn in his environment.

Building a trusting relationship with a young child takes time and a great deal of positive interaction between adult and child. When a child's teacher leaves, the attachment process is interrupted and the child usually feels a sense of loss and may regress in his emotional development. Any kind of interruption of a child's primary caregiver needs to be handled thoughtfully, making sure the child has time to understand that her teacher is leaving, ideally has a transition period with the new teacher before the teacher leaves and has a chance to say goodbye.

When a teacher leaves suddenly without time for adequate planning, centers may have to hire substitute teachers for some period of time before a permanent teacher is hired. This creates another time of interruption, readjustment and challenge for young children. These changes require children to develop relationships with one or more different substitute teachers with different personalities and often with varying abilities to manage a classroom of young children.

Children often respond to teacher turnover with refusals to go to school, crying when parents leave them and renewed fears and insecurities.

In addition to the important implications for children, teacher turnover is problematic to other teachers in a child care program. Although we may not think about child-care settings as businesses, they are. When staff members leave, it affects the efficiency of the organization. When a teacher leaves, the teachers who are left behind often must assume extra responsibilities and may have to shift their duties to fill in for the missing teacher. This becomes an added burden for the teachers and may in turn affect their own classrooms and children.

Teacher turnover is an ongoing burden for child-care centers, as well. If 30 percent of a center's teachers leave every year, a great deal of time and money must be invested by the center in recruiting and retraining qualified teachers. And finding and hiring new teachers with appropriate education and credentials to maintain the program's licensure and standards is a continuing challenge. Furthermore, many families remove their children from a center with high teacher turnover, resulting in significant loss in revenue to the center.

The child-care industry in North Carolina is a major industry, employing more than 46,000 people and generating over $1.5 billion in revenues. But the profit margin is low, and teachers and staff are not highly paid. The average salary for a child-care teacher in North Carolina is currently $15,000 per year; many have few or no benefits such as paid time off and health-care benefits.

The issues that result in high teacher turnover are complex. Two of the most obvious are low wages and inadequate benefits.

To assure that teachers have good qualifications and that child-care teachers remain in their child-care programs, teachers must receive salaries commensurate with their education and experience. And families cannot pay the full cost through their parent fees alone. Since research demonstrates the direct link between good outcomes for young children in child care and the long term benefits to society, additional public and private resources must be tapped to solve this problem.

Many variables go into making the child-care experience the best it can be for your child. Minimizing the effects of teacher turnover is an important part of that formula. When parents and teachers work together, the transition can be smooth, and a new and exciting relationship can begin.

Teacher Turnover Q & A

Should I ask my center about turnover?

Yes! When selecting a child-care facility, you are the "consumer" and should feel completely comfortable asking any questions like, "How many of your teachers have been here for longer than two years?" and "How long have you been with this center?"

What if a caregiver leaves suddenly?

Always address your concerns with the center staff or director. If you come in one morning, and your child's teacher isn't there, ask why. Maybe she's sick or on vacation. If you discover that she has resigned, ask about the center's plans: "Are you going to hire new staff or move existing staff?" and "How long do you anticipate this transition period to be?"

Talk to your child about the change in honest, simple terms. "Billy, Ms. Jones is going to be with her Mommy this week because her Mommy is sick. While she is gone, Ms. Watson will be here to play with you. Aren't you lucky that you get to make a new friend this week?" Or, "Sally, you have a new teacher. This is Ms. Harris, and I am so excited that you get to meet someone new who will teach you new and fun things"

It's also a good idea to give the new teacher specific details about your child to help them develop a rapport. "Mr. Wilson, Tony loves dinosaurs and got to see a big one at the museum last week. Ask him to tell you more about it."

Remember that your child takes their cues from you. If you are upset about the change, share those feelings with adults when your child is not listening. Encourage your child to be as open as possible to this new person.

Can I help my child and new teacher adjust to each other?

Communication is key. Introduce yourself to the new teacher. Plan to spend a little extra time in the morning or in the afternoon in the classroom to get to know the teacher.

Be sensitive to the fact that the teacher has to pay attention to all the children and their parents. Ask what you can do to help make things easier during the transition.

Remember that no two children are alike and no two teachers are alike. A new teacher will do some things differently from the previous one. These differences aren't necessarily bad. Use a new teacher's unique gifts as an opportunity to show your child that every teacher brings a special talent or strength to the classroom.

 

Karen Ponder is the president of the North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC). Greer Bowen Beaty is a member of the NCPC staff and the mother of two children in child care.

Call 919-821-7999 or visit Smart Start and the N.C. Partnership for Children (www.ncsmartstart.org) for more information, or call the state Division of Child Development at 800-859-0829 (http://ncchildcare.dhhs.state.nc.us/general/home.asp).

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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Drive
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Telephone: 919-212-7695
Contact Name: Josh Ingersoll
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Cost: Free

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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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More information

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Cost: Free

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4109 Guess Road
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View map »


Sponsor: Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-477-3993
Contact Name: Jonathan Hendrickson
Website »

More information

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Cost: Donation of a canned good or new toy for an area crisis ministry

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View map »


Sponsor: Corporate Chaplains of America
Telephone: 919-570-0700
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More information

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1821 Salem Church Road
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View map »


Sponsor: Salem Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-362-7327
Website »

More information

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More information

See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Enjoy "Christmas All Over the Place," "Ten Minutes Till Christmas" and "Bring On The Snow." Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $8/adult, $6 ages 16 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Website »

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This musical comedy is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family with just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $28-$33

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Help find candy canes hidden in Bond Park. Ages 6-12. Register online by Dec. 1. Choose course #97272.

Cost: $10/child

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
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Take part in a 5K, 1-mile fun run and kids' dash. The event benefits St. Michael the Archangel Catholic School in Cary. Register online.

Cost: $8-$35

Where:
Wake Med Cross Country Course/Wake Med Soccer Park
201 Soccer Park Drive
Cary, NC  27511
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Shop more than 100 vendors, enjoy pictures with Santa and raffles prizes, and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
Garner Magnet High School, South Campus
8828 Hebron Church Rd.
Garner, NC  27529
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Sponsor: GMHS PTSA
Telephone: 919-559-6018
Contact Name: Shanna or Shalon

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Parent and child move from station to station crafting original holiday gifts and treats for friends and family. Work alongside a talented group of Makery Fellows and area artists to create...

Cost: $35/child, $15/adult

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Contact Name: Kidzu Info
Website »

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Take part in the preschool's annual Breakfast with Santa. Enjoy a breakfast of pancakes, sausage and fruit, as well as photos with Santa and doing Christmas crafts with your kids. Enjoy a...

Cost: $6 in advance, $8 at door. Free for ages 2 and younger

Where:
Windborne United Methodist Church
9121 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Windborne United Methodist Preschool
Telephone: 919.342.6075
Contact Name: Laura Bass
Website »

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Join Mrs. Claus for breakfast and a short story. After visiting with Mrs. Claus, enjoy a holiday craft. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Garden Supply Company
1421 Old Apex Road
Cary, NC  27513
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Sponsor: Garden Supply Company
Telephone: 919.460.7747
Contact Name: Kathy Burns
Website »

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Take a walk in the woods and discover the animals and plants that call the park home. Help collect data for our Natural Resource Inventory Database and other citizen science projects. Ages 14 and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

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Create a keepsake gingerbread house. Register online.

Cost: $12/member, $15/nonmember; $20/house

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Learn, explore and play outdoors while doing a fun nature-based activity. Ages 18 mos-5 yrs with parent. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Forest Hills Park
1639 University Dr.
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Tinkergarten
Telephone: 919-806-7502
Contact Name: Kate Macartney
Website »

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Beginner, amateur and advanced BMX riders take part in a competition. Register online. Spectators attend free of charge. Food available for purchase.

Cost: $30-$35

Where:
Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex
171 Tradition Trail, Ste. 207
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Daniel Dhers Action Sports Complex
Telephone: 919-557-8088
Website »

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Enjoy an introduction to cloth diapering. This class includes information about types of diapers, accessories, and care of cloth. The class will include handouts to take home so that parents can...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grow, The Family Boutique
2885 Jones Franklin Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Telephone: 919-803-3521
Contact Name: Heather Dickens
Website »

More information

See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

City Ballet Raleigh presents its 24th annual performance of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." The family-friendly, full-length ballet features guest artists from Carolina Ballet dancing...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: City Ballet
Telephone: 919-844-9799
Contact Name: City Ballet
Website »

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Make a holiday ornament with the Durham Arts Council.

Cost: Free

Where:
Northgate Mall
1058 W. Club Blvd., Ste. 132
Durham, NC  27701
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Make memories by creating a gingerbread house with freshly baked gingerbread, handmade icing and candy. This event benefits a community preschool. Register online for either the 11 a.m.-noon...

Cost: $40/house (includes a whole group of family or friends)

Where:
Family Preschool
4907 Garrett Rd.
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Family Preschool
Telephone: 919-402-1500
Contact Name: Ginger B. House
Website »

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Discover handmade treasures and wonderful treats at this years holiday shopping event of the year. Holiday refreshments will be enjoyed throughout the event. Door prizes will be given out every...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fuquay-Varina Woman's Club House
602 N. Ennis Street
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
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Sponsor: Ballentine-Spence House
Telephone: 925-399-1629
Contact Name: Anna Campbell
Website »

More information

This musical comedy is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family with just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $28-$33

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrate Computer Science Education Week in December. TheCoderSchool is joining the global "Hour of Code" movement. Be one of the tens of millions of students around the...

Cost: Free

Where:
theCoderSchool
201 Davis Grove Circle
Cary, NC  27519
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Sponsor: theCoderSchool
Contact Name: Ravisha Weerasinghe
Website »

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Visit with Santa at the birth center, and enjoy milk and cookies and storytime. Kids can talk with Santa about their holiday gift wishes. Santa will also be handing out candy canes. All attendees...

Cost: Free

Where:
Baby+Company Cary
226 Asheville Ave Ste 20
Cary, NC  27518
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Website »

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Ages 6-10 enjoy nature activities and projects. Registration required.

Cost: $26/resident, $34/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Decorate a gingerbread house. Participants receive an undecorated gingerbread house with royal icing and tasty toppings. Hot chocolate bar included. Ages 4 and older with family.

Cost: $25

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Drive
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Contact Name: Kidzu Info
Website »

More information

Join Wendell Falls for its first Holiday Sip and Shop event, which is free and open to the public. Tour gorgeous model homes while picking up last-minute gifts from a variety of vendors. Tasting...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wendell Falls by Newland Communities
320 Vintage Point Ln
Wendell , NC  27591
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Website »

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Carolina Ballet gets families into Christmas spirit when one of its principal dancers, Lara O'Brien, reads "The Nutcracker." Ages 4 and older.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Website »

More information

Walk through the scenes of Jesus' birth in the maze. Take a flashlight if you plan to arrive after 4 p.m. The event also features Santa, storytime and cookies with Mrs. Claus, crafts and games...

Cost: $10/person at the farm gate. Cash only

Where:
Lazy O Farm
3583 Packing Plant Road
Smithfield, NC  27577
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Sponsor: Lazy O Farm
Telephone: 919-934-1132
Contact Name: Tami Thompson
Website »

More information

Take a hike with park staff to investigate animal lives and adaptations using your five senses. Ages 5 and older. Registration required.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Enjoy the holiday story featuring elaborate scenery, a live orchestra, magical illusions, the entire Carolina Ballet company, and more than 100 local children. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $27-$112

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Ballet
Telephone: 919-719-0900
Website »

More information

Make creative gifts for friends and family using items found in nature. Enjoy hot chocolate. Ages 6-12. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Register online. Choose course #194798.

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-2871
Website »

More information

See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Join Santa for wagon ride to explore the back roads of the park. Listen to stories and sing Christmas carols. Take a blanket. All ages. Meet at the Loblolly Shelter. Register online.

Cost: $2/person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Enjoy "Christmas All Over the Place," "Ten Minutes Till Christmas" and "Bring On The Snow." Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $8/adult, $6 ages 16 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

City Ballet Raleigh presents its 24th annual performance of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." The family-friendly, full-length ballet features guest artists from Carolina Ballet dancing...

Cost: $15-$30

Where:
NCSU Stewart Theatre
2610 Cates Avenue
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: City Ballet
Telephone: 919-844-9799
Contact Name: City Ballet
Website »

More information

Learn about nature as the sun sets. All ages with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $20/resident, $28/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy a live nativity journey. This nonticketed event is open to all ages. Doors open at 4 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Salem Baptist Church
1821 Salem Church Road
Apex, NC  27523
View map »


Sponsor: Salem Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-362-7327
Website »

More information

This musical comedy is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family with just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $28-$33

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Rose of Sharon Baptist Church presents "Christmas Plugged," a drive-up, synchronized, Christmas music light show to 90.1 FM. Enjoy  20,000 LED bulbs as they dance to familiar tunes...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
4109 Guess Road
Durham, NC  27712
View map »


Sponsor: Rose of Sharon Baptist Church
Telephone: 919-477-3993
Contact Name: Jonathan Hendrickson
Website »

More information

Celebrate the 20th birthday of Jellybeans Super Skate Center. Free skating takes place from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
Jellybeans Super Skate Center
1120 Buck Jones Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Website »

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Kids ages 7-17 take part in a hands-on magic workshop. Learn the performance art of theatrical magic from local masters on the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Details available at...

Cost: $10

Where:
The Magic Corner Magic Shop
3684 Capital Blvd.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: Ring #199,The Int'l Brotherhood of Magicians
Telephone: 919-272-6465
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

See favorite Disney characters, including Olaf, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Dory and all the princesses, perform in dazzling ice skating show. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $13-$85

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the holiday story featuring elaborate scenery, a live orchestra, magical illusions, the entire Carolina Ballet company, and more than 100 local children. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $27-$112

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Carolina Ballet
Telephone: 919-719-0900
Website »

More information

Enjoy "Christmas All Over the Place," "Ten Minutes Till Christmas" and "Bring On The Snow." Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $8/adult, $6 ages 16 and younger

Where:
The Halle Cultural Arts Center
237 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

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