The Home-School Balancing Act

Five moms who home-school share how they make it work


Published:

The Papageorgiou family of Rockwell, North Carolina, have found a way to make home schooling work their family of five.

Photo courtesy of the Papageorgiou family

If you are new to home schooling or considering it, you already know that learning at home can have a positive outcome on a child’s education and, ultimately, adulthood. You might also be curious about how best to ensure your child’s success. We asked five experienced home-schooling moms to share their best advice, and here’s what they said.


Find Support

If you are new to home schooling, seek out community resources or other moms who can offer support. “Get involved with real people,” says Danielle Papageorgiou of Rockwell, North Carolina, a mom of three. “It is a wonderful thing to be part of online Facebook groups and virtual conferences, but we all need real human contact, and support groups are very important if you want to be successful.”

Papageorgiou also suggests finding a mentor. “Veteran home-school moms usually have a deep passion for home schooling and are eager to share their wisdom,” Papageorgiou says.

Magda Levin of Indian Trail, North Carolina, and author of “Homeschooling Beyond Definitions: A Family Journey” agrees that finding support is an important first step. “You are not alone. The home-school community continues to grow every year,” Levin says. “If you don’t know anyone who is home schooling, do some research and find your local home-schoolers and meet them. Also, other home-schoolers come in handy if you are not comfortable with teaching a subject. Sharing knowledge and trading skills is a great way to be part of the home-school community.”


Create a Schedule That Works for You

Flexibility with your schedule is crucial for success. Learning doesn’t just occur between
8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“When I had a toddler and a baby, the balancing act of parenting and home schooling began,” Levin says. “Making sure I met the physical and emotional needs of both was hard because their schedules did not always match to mine or to either one of them. For example, when the baby wanted to eat, the toddler wanted to play with a ball. ... I had to learn that basic needs had to be met first, and that was OK,” Levin says.

Once you have a system that works, kids grow and needs change. Home-schooling parents say they constantly need to adjust.

“I have had to learn to keep adapting to those needs and interests,” Levin says. “These do not always match to academic lessons. Rather than striving to complete a curriculum, I have found it best to strive for them to grow a love of learning that will last.”


Understand Your Role as Mom and Teacher

Don’t try to switch gears between being a mom and teacher. You are both.

“Learning is always ongoing, so we often intermix learning and life so some days you really don’t switch,” says Cyndi McKinish Sparrow of Clayton, a mom of three. “It’s just our life.”

Aimee Stokey of Matthews, a mom of 12- and 15-year-old daughters, says she really doesn’t switch gears from mom to teacher. “It wouldn’t be any different than if my child went to a school and had three hours of homework I had to help with at night,” she says. “The only difference is we do the work during the day and don’t have to do homework (at night).”



Photo courtesy of the Stokey Family
 

Papageorgiou agrees. “As a mom, I am a teacher already,” she says. “I believe it is important not to divide myself into separate roles. I have been teaching my children since they were babies, and there is nothing that suddenly changed when they turned 5 and became what we know as ‘school age.’”

Papageorgiou adds that it’s important to integrate learning with everyday experiences, such as cooking and baking to practice math skills. “Approaching school in this way frees up time significantly and allows us to build and strengthen the family bonds naturally as mother/child, rather than as teacher/student,” she says.


Trust Your Instincts

If you are considering home schooling, you’ll rely heavily on your parental instincts. For Sparrow, who has three kids, that also means relying on her faith. “Be prayerful,” Sparrow says. “Know that if you are called to this, God will equip you.”

Katherine Williams of Chapel Hill, who has two home-schooled children, ages 17 and 18, says parental guidance is all the teaching most kids need.

“Given enough sleep, freedom and time most kids will learn everything they need to know, including math and language arts, by themselves,” Williams says. “If this seems impossible, consider that human beings are hardwired for curiosity and learning. Your two biggest jobs are to empower their curiosity and feed them well.”


Avoid Burnout

Don’t try to do too much. You’ll end up overwhelmed.

“Most moms who suffer ‘home-school burnout’ are moms who have mistakenly tried to mimic a school classroom,” Papageorgiou says. “Modern school was created for large classrooms of singular age groups, not a family.”

Keep in mind that your child might learn best on the couch or outside rather than at a desk. Be flexible and adapt to your child’s learning style.


Relax and Have Fun

Don’t stress about mastering curriculum or whether your child is ahead in one area but behind in another. Fear is the biggest enemy in home schooling, Papageorgiou says. “If you can learn to let go of fear and simply enjoy the process with your child, then you will be successful,” she says.

Remember the importance of play and give kids freedom to explore their interests. “We are not only educating our children in academics, but also in themselves,” Papageorgiou  says. “Children need to discover their unique gifts to figure out what direction they should go in life.”


Myra Wright is the digital editor of Carolina Parent and Charlotte Parent.

 

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November 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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Show up in your PJs for breakfast and Seussical fun before a 10 a.m. showing of "The Grinch" (the new animated 2018 movie). Pose with The Grinch and Max and...

Cost: Member: $11/adult, $9/child. Non-member: $12/adult, $10/child

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Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
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Cost: Free

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Erwin Road
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Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Durham Convention Center
301 W. Morgan St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County
, NC  27510


Sponsor: Orange County Artists Guild
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Cost: Free

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Fidelity Bank Parking Lot
100 W. Chatham St.
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Claymakers
701 Foster St
Durham, NC
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201 E. Hargett St.
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5229 Awls Haven Drive
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
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Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
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Quail Ridge Books
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5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
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Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
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Cost: $2/child

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

Where:
Chick-Fil-A
2720 Timber Dr.
Garner, NC  27529
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Sponsor: The MelodyMaker Entertainment
Telephone: (919)639-9328
Contact Name: Melody Scruggs
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Stone Soup Supper is back for its fourteenth year in a row, with more chefs than ever before. Enjoy soups from 20 local chefs while shopping unique pottery pieces from The Triangle Potters...

Cost: $25/person

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McKimmon Center
1101 Gorman St
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Telephone: 919-836-1642
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5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
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Cost: $3

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Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
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Cost: $4/child

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Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Duluth Trading
301 Crossroads Blvd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Cost: $6/member, $8/nonmember

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NC Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607-6494
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Saint Raphael Preschool
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
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Cost: $7/person. Free for age 1 and younger

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: $10/member, $20/nonmembers, $5 for children

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JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Cost: Free

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Chapel Hill Public Library
100 Library Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
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Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
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Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Cost: $18

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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Cost: Free; $5 donation for sledding

Where:
Park West Village
3400 Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Telephone: 919-234-6710
Contact Name: Conner Dixon
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Go on an owl prowl to discover the kinds of owls and other night-time birds that are found in the Piedmont. All ages. Register online. 

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

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Waverly Place Shopping Center
307 Colonades Way
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $10/member, $20/nonmembers, $5 for children

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JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Cost: $25

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 188-858-79530
Contact Name: hoa bui
Website »

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Give Gala has been celebrated for its unique donation model where tickets to the event are exchanged for time and services that benefit terminally ill children and their families. Attendees...

Cost: Free

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: Free

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Buy Buy Baby
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Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Enjoy face painting and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a Woodplay’s largest sale of the year on playsets and Springfree Trampolines

Cost: Free

Where:
Woodplay Playsets of the Carolinas
9521 Lumley Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-781-6556
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Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Durham Arts Council
120 Morris Street
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2719
Contact Name: Susan Tierney
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

More information

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Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: $5

Where:
Carolina Theatre of Durham
309 W. Morgan St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Telephone: 919-560-3030
Contact Name: Jaimie Lee
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Cost: Free

Where:
Dix Park
801 Biggs Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Cost: Free

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Saint Mary's School
900 Hillsborough St.
Raleih, NC  27603
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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Cost: $35 child and adult pair, or $15/child and $25/adult

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Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Telephone: 888-587-9530
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Cost: Free admission; $10 for 10 tasting tickets

Where:
Stephens Hardware Bldg
405 E Broad St
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
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Telephone: 919-552-0848
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Cost: $12-$27

Where:
Fletcher Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
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Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Cost: $2

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
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p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 15.0px Arial; color: #0433ff; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} Take a favorite stuffed animal friends to explore...

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Where:
Museum of Life and Science
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Durham, NC  27704
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Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Build a boat from just cardboard and duct tape and try to make it across Campus Hills Pool with just your wits and a paddle. Trophies will be awarded. Ages 6-15. Advance registration...

Cost: $6/resident, $11/nonresident per two-person team

Where:
Campus Hills Pool
2000 S. Alston Ave.
Durham, NC  27707
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Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Lafayette Village
8450 Honeycutt Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Website »

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Cost: $35/person

Where:
Jordan Lake
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Sponsor: frolyk
Telephone: 866 481 6166
Contact Name: Lili Engelhardt
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Discover what's happening as the sun sets and listen to stories around a campfire. All ages with adult. Register online. Choose course #117094.

Cost: $18/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Talented dance students perform the lavishly staged holiday ballet alongside guest artists from Carolina Ballet. Show times are at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. All ages. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $12-$27

Where:
Fletcher Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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During the holiday season, come share the excitement as Park West Village hosts Winter Wonderland in the District. Take the family to enjoy train rides, magical winter lights, live music and visits...

Cost: Free; $5 donation for sledding

Where:
Park West Village
3400 Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Telephone: 919-234-6710
Contact Name: Conner Dixon
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Look through telescopes, facilitated by Morehead staff and dedicated volunteers, at a variety of objects in the sky. Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will be prime targets, along with many other deep...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dix Park
101 Blair Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Enjoy a magical lighting exhibition for the entire family, under the cover of darkness artfully lit on a crisp November evening. Enjoy live music, food trucks (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday),...

Cost: $10/member, $20/nonmembers, $5 for children

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Magazine

Our holiday issue hit newsstands until just after Thanksgiving. Check out the digital version now!
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Directories

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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2018-19 Education Guide offers 678 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools, academic resources and an Exceptional Child special section.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2018 Readers' Favorites are.