Can Working From Home Work For You?

Two parents on how they balance work and family by working from home.


Published:

Just three weeks before her maternity leave was over, Caroline Arey knew she could never go back to her full-time office job. Financially, becoming a stay-at-home mom wasn’t an option, but after crunching the numbers, Arey, a marketing professional, and her husband, a chef, determined that securing some freelance work would help supplement her lost income.

Arey took the risk and left her corporate job in March 2015. She then started her own firm, offering social media, marketing and copywriting services for five regular clients — all from the comfort of her own home and with her daughter, now 19 months old, by her side.

“I knew, based on our family structure, that I couldn’t be a full-time stay-at-home mom without work, but I feel like the schedule I have now allows me to be as much of a stay-at-home mom as I can be,” says Arey, who lives in Matthews, North Carolina. “I put my daughter to bed every night and wake her up every morning. I never miss a milestone.”

With more parents craving a better work-life balance and more companies offering flexible work options, some parents are finding ways to work from home instead of commuting to an office. While this allows parents the best of both worlds — the opportunity to spend more time with their kids while maintaining their professional careers — there are challenges that come with this type of arrangement.

“I like that I contribute financially to my family, that I’m keeping my skill set fresh and that I have an identity with my work,” Arey says. “And I love that I get to do storytimes and playdates and be an insider in my child’s life. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Caroline Arey with her daughter and husband.


Setting a Schedule

As a business owner, Arey works seven days a week. She has arranged for a nanny come to her home from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and schedules all of her in-person client meetings during those timeframes. The rest of the week, Arey juggles work during nap times, while her husband is home and after her daughter has gone to bed. Arey’s mother lives close by, so she is also available to babysit when Arey needs an extra hand. 

“The skeleton of my week is organized for productivity, but things come up all the time. Really, no day is the same,” Arey says. “The bulk of my work happens after bedtime, and wonderful child care is a must to have time to focus.”

Unlike Arey, Brian Barbour from Apex, North Carolina, is a work-from-home parent with a more regular schedule. Barbour, a sales engineer for an international technology company, says his employer is a strong proponent of what it calls “a mobile workforce,” and he has worked from home for almost four years. Because he has older children — a 19-year-old and a 9-year-old — Barbour’s typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday is rarely interrupted by child care needs, but his flexible schedule does come in handy from time to time.

“There is a lot more flexibility in my schedule so I can help drive kids to activities,” he says. “It’s also easier for my wife to schedule appointments or run errands, knowing that I am home with our daughter.”

Barbour says the greatest advantage to working from home is not having to factor a commute into his daily schedule, which alleviates the stress of fighting traffic and rushing to get to places on time. But, he says, working from home always makes it easy to spend all day at his desk, adding that he usually doesn’t even break for lunch. He has to be intentional about taking a few breaks throughout the day, and takes his laptop and phone outside on nice days.

“It’s easy to forget to leave your desk without a commute to end your day, or the distraction of fellow employees chatting or walking by,” he says. “Remember to take a walk or get some form of exercise in. I know a guy [who works from home] who walks his neighborhood for 15 minutes at the beginning and end of his workday, pretending that he has a walking commute.”

The Barbour family.


Being Productive

While it can take more discipline to be productive while working from home, Arey and Barbour agree that they are more efficient with their time now than they were when they worked in an office setting. Arey says that between employee interaction, emailing, lunch breaks and internet browsing, she often spent only two to three hours a day doing actual work. Now, because her time is so precious, she is more determined to use it wisely.

“The nice thing about working from home in snippets of time is because when I’m working I’m actually working,” she says. “I’m not just spinning my wheels during work time.”

Barbour says his household sometimes gets “slightly unruly,” especially when all family members — including their two Cairn Terriers — are home. He adds that it took some time for his family to adjust to the idea that, even though he was physically home, he was unavailable for activities, events or chores during regular workday hours. Barbour enforces ground rules so his family knows not to disturb him and to keep the noise at a minimum, especially if his office door is closed or if he’s on the phone. During particularly busy times, he chooses to wait until his family has gone to bed to focus on important tasks.

“In retrospect, I think there was much more distraction at the workplace than at home,” Barbour says. “I was assigned to sit in a cubicle. There was constant foot traffic and interruption, and I was never very productive sitting at my desk.”


Overcoming Obstacles

One of the more challenging aspects to working from home is how isolating it can be. Barbour says he sometimes misses the daily camaraderie with coworkers, but calls a friend or gets together with a coworker for coffee or lunch when he needs some interaction.

Another challenge is creating a separation between work life and home life. The house can be a distraction when there is housework or laundry to be done, which is why having a dedicated work space is important.

“As happy as I am to not be in a traditional work environment, what I do now is much harder than my last job,” Arey says. “There is no separation at all from work and home, and there are many days I feel that I’m not doing my best in either place because I’m not fully focused on either place.”

“But I fully recommend working from home to anyone who can do it,” she adds. “I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, no matter how messy things can get.”


Emily Schappacher is a wife, mother and writer based in Huntersville, North Carolina.


SEE ALSO: 5 Tips for Convincing Your Boss to Let You Work From Home

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February 2017

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Cost: Free

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1834 Wake Forest Road
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Cost: Free

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Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
1834 Wake Forest Road
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Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
1834 Wake Forest Road
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Sponsor: Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
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Cost: Free

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SciWorks
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Cost: $

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900 Old Salem Road
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View map »


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Cost: $25 per family for the six-week session

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Reynolda House Museum of American Art
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Cost: Free

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More information

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View map »


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101 Gordon St.
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View map »


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View map »


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Cost: Free

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Hemphill Branch Library
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Winston-Salem, NC  27101
View map »


Telephone: 336-747-1414
Contact Name: Triad Stage Box Office
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Join the quest! Learn about energy – what it is, where it comes from, how we use it and why it’s so important to use it wisely. Conservation Quest® delivers important conservation...

Cost: Included with museum admission

Where:
SciWorks
400 W. Hanes Mill Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27105
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Website »

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Classic meets cutting edge. Members of the Taylor II company, in residence at UNCSA, will join School of Dance students in the ebullient Esplanade, one of Paul Taylor’s most popular works....

Cost: $18 Regular/$15 Student with valid ID

Where:
Stevens Center of the UNC School of the Arts
405 W 4th St
Winston Salem, NC  27101
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Telephone: 133-672-11945
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

In celebration of Black History month, St. Philips Heritage Center will host a fun daily quest for kids to learn about enslaved and free African Americans who worked and lived in Salem. Complete...

Cost: $

Where:
St. Philips Heritage Center at Old Salem
900 Old Salem Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27101
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Telephone: 336-721-7300
Website »

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Home has personal significance and meaning.  Home may be a place, landscape, object, journey or relationship. Through contemporary art and ethnographic artifacts, home is envisioned as a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
1834 Wake Forest Road
W-S, NC  27106
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Sponsor: Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
Telephone: 336-758-5282
Contact Name: Sara Cromwell
Website »

More information

The video game franchise Pokémon is one of the most popular cultural products to ever come out of Japan. Now more than 20 years old, it is still enjoyed by children and adults throughout the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
1834 Wake Forest Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27106
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Sponsor: Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
Telephone: 336-758-5282
Contact Name: Sara Cromwell
Website »

More information

Stay at home moms, get out of the house and get fit! Enjoy a variety of fitness activities that will help get your blood pumping and calories burning. Parents are encouraged to bring their kids...

Cost: Free

Where:
Southside Recreation Center
401 Taylor Avenue
High Point, NC  27260
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Wake Forest first-year students in museum studies curated this exhibit exploring the “object biographies” of intriguing specimens in MOA’s collections. The exhibit traces objects...

Cost: Free

Where:
Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
1834 Wake Forest Road
W-S, NC  27106
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Sponsor: Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
Telephone: 336-758-5282
Contact Name: Sara Cromwell
Website »

More information

Babies from birth to toddlers are welcome with their parents/caregivers. We sing songs, repeat chants and rhymes, and have a great time! Please join us. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Reynolda Manor Branch Library
2839 Fairlawn Drive NW
Winston-Salem, NC  27106
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Enjoy story time with your preschooler and make a craft. Included with admission.

Cost: $7

Where:
Children's Museum of Winston-Salem
390 S. Liberty St.
Winston-Salem, NC  27101
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Story time especially for preschoolers and their caregivers.

Cost: Free

Where:
Carver School Road Branch Library
4915 Lansing Drive
W-S, NC  27105
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Come on out and build with Legos. All children are welcome. Duplo Legos provided for small children. Space is limited, so large groups are asked to call ahead 336-703-2910.

Cost: Free

Where:
Carver School Road Branch Library
4915 Lansing Drive
W-S, NC  27105
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Enjoy $4 admission per person after 5 p.m.

Cost: $4

Where:
Greensboro Children's Museum
220 N. Church St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Sponsor: Greensboro Children's Museum
Telephone: 336-574-2898
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Meet with a park ranger at the start of the Jomeokee Trail to experience our most popular trail as the sun begins to go down and our nocturnal animals emerge. We will try to listen and find some of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pilot Mountain State Park
1792 Pilot Knob Park Road
Pinnacle, NC  27043
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For ages 12-15. Learn to make fresh pasta dough and create classic shapes by hand and machine. We'll enjoy the pasta with a homemade sauce. On the menu: farfalle pasta and roasted vegetable...

Cost: $30 for members/$30 for non-members

Where:
Greensboro Children's Museum
220 N. Church St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Following sell-out shows in the Northeast, Rockin' Road to Dublin is coming to Greensboro on their 2017 national tour. Rockin' Road to Dublin combines the art of an Irish dance show,...

Cost: $20-$40

Where:
The Carolina Theatre
310 S Greene St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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What an amazing couple of ladies Sadie and Bessie Delaney are. Bound together by more than 100 years of life, love and laughter, they’re sharing their stories of an American century. From...

Cost: $10-$53

Where:
Hanesbrands Theatre
209 N. Spruce St.
Winston-Salem, NC  27101
View map »


Telephone: 336-747-1414
Contact Name: Triad Stage Box Office
Website »

More information

Join the quest! Learn about energy – what it is, where it comes from, how we use it and why it’s so important to use it wisely. Conservation Quest® delivers important conservation...

Cost: Included with museum admission

Where:
SciWorks
400 W. Hanes Mill Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27105
View map »


Website »

More information

On $4 Fun Fridays starting at 5, the usual $8 per person admission fee is cut in half. Come enjoy the museum at this amazing discounted cost 5-8 p.m. 

Where:
Greensboro Children's Museum
220 N. Church St.
GSO, NC
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Telephone: 336-574-2898
Website »

More information

In celebration of Black History month, St. Philips Heritage Center will host a fun daily quest for kids to learn about enslaved and free African Americans who worked and lived in Salem. Complete...

Cost: $

Where:
St. Philips Heritage Center at Old Salem
900 Old Salem Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27101
View map »


Telephone: 336-721-7300
Website »

More information

Mowgli, bounds through the jungle and learns what it means to be human. Specially adapted from the classic Disney animated film, the play features a host of colorful characters and your favorite...

Cost: $5-9

Where:
Starr Theatre
520 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC  27406
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Sponsor: Community Theatre of Greensboro
Telephone: 336-333-7470 x202
Contact Name: Victoria Ball
Website »

More information

Classic meets cutting edge. Members of the Taylor II company, in residence at UNCSA, will join School of Dance students in the ebullient Esplanade, one of Paul Taylor’s most popular works....

Cost: $18 Regular/$15 Student with valid ID

Where:
Stevens Center of the UNC School of the Arts
405 W 4th St
Winston Salem, NC  27101
View map »


Telephone: 133-672-11945
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

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Join staff of Horne Creek Living Historical Farm and a park ranger to make a bird feeder in a fun craft for kids and all ages. Then join a park ranger to walk the grounds of the historical farm and...

Cost: $10

Where:
Horne Creek Living Historical Farm
308 Horne Creek Farm Road
Pinnacle, NC  27043
View map »


Website »

More information

Home has personal significance and meaning.  Home may be a place, landscape, object, journey or relationship. Through contemporary art and ethnographic artifacts, home is envisioned as a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
1834 Wake Forest Road
W-S, NC  27106
View map »


Sponsor: Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
Telephone: 336-758-5282
Contact Name: Sara Cromwell
Website »

More information

Wake Forest first-year students in museum studies curated this exhibit exploring the “object biographies” of intriguing specimens in MOA’s collections. The exhibit traces objects...

Cost: Free

Where:
Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
1834 Wake Forest Road
W-S, NC  27106
View map »


Sponsor: Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
Telephone: 336-758-5282
Contact Name: Sara Cromwell
Website »

More information

The video game franchise Pokémon is one of the most popular cultural products to ever come out of Japan. Now more than 20 years old, it is still enjoyed by children and adults throughout the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
1834 Wake Forest Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27106
View map »


Sponsor: Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
Telephone: 336-758-5282
Contact Name: Sara Cromwell
Website »

More information

Come watch our costumed blacksmith in action as he crafts various iron pieces. All ages welcome. Free. Drop-in.

Cost: Free

Where:
High Point Museum
1859 E. Lexington Ave.
High Point, NC
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Sponsor: High Point Museum
Telephone: 885-1859
Website »

More information

10 a.m.: Day-of registration begins Noon: Parade of Plungers 12:30 p.m.: Kids’ Polar Splash 1 p.m.: Plunge begins Take a wintry leap for a great cause! Gather your friends, dress...

Cost: $50

Where:
Wet'n Wild Emerald Pointe
3910 S. Holden Road
Greensboro, NC  27406
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Website »

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They make; you shop! Kids 3 and up can enjoy a fun project. Sign up online or just drop in. $2 per project, supplies included. Parent or guardian must remain on premises during the event.

Cost: $2

Where:
Michael's
1050 Hanes Mall Blvd.
Winston-Salem, NC  27103
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Parents will complete arts and crafts projects with their toddlers. Participants will work as a pair to complete a new arts and crafts activity each week. For ages 1-5.

Cost: $7

Where:
Morehead Recreation Center
101 Price Street
High Point, NC  27260
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Website »

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Parents, students and youth are welcome to attend weekly ‘Saturday Children’s Story Hour.’ Guests are invited to meet at the museum every Saturday at 11 a.m. to hear dynamic...

Cost: Free

Where:
International Civil Rights Center & Museum
134 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Sponsor: International Civil Rights Center & Museum
Telephone: (336) 274-9199
Contact Name: Nakia Hoskins
Website »

More information

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! In celebration of the beloved author's birthday on March 2, we will host a special story time featuring coloring, activities and more. Don't miss out on this...

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes and Noble Friendly Center
3102 Northline Ave.
Greensboro, NC  27408
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Telephone: 336-854-4200
Website »

More information

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! In celebration of the beloved author's birthday on March 2, we will host a special story time featuring coloring, activities and more. Don't miss out on this...

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes and Noble
1925 Hampton Inn Court
Winston-Salem, NC  27103
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Telephone: 336-774-0800
Website »

More information

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! In celebration of the beloved author's birthday on March 2, we will host a special story time featuring coloring, activities and more. Don't miss out on this...

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes and Noble Alamance Crossing Shopping Center
3125 Waltham Blvd
Burlington, NC  27215
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Telephone: 336-584-0869
Website »

More information

Join us in the park every Saturday for free children's and family activities. Weather permitting.

Cost: Free

Where:
LeBauer Park
208 N. Davie St.
Greensboro, NC  27401
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Website »

More information

Parents, students and youth are welcomed to attend this weekly event. Guests are invited to hear dynamic leaders and educators from the community narrate stories and interact...

Cost: Free

Where:
International Civil Rights Center & Museum
134 S. Elm St.
GSO, NC  27401
View map »


Sponsor: International Civil Rights Center & Museum
Telephone: 336-274-9199
Contact Name: Nakia Hoskins
Website »

More information

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! In celebration of the beloved author's birthday on March 2, we will host a special story time featuring coloring, activities and more. Don't miss out on this...

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes and Noble
906 Mall Loop Road
High Point, NC  27262
View map »


Telephone: 336-886-1331
Website »

More information

We continue our three-month series of events celebrating The LEGO Batman Movie. Kids will be called to put their detective skills to the test with themed activities as well as make & play...

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes and Noble
1925 Hampton Inn Court
Winston-Salem, NC  27103
View map »


Telephone: 336-774-0800
Website »

More information

We continue our three-month series of events celebrating The LEGO Batman Movie. Kids will be called to put their detective skills to the test with themed activities as well as make & play...

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes and Noble Friendly Center
3102 Northline Avenue
Greensboro, NC  27408
View map »


Website »

More information

We continue our three-month series of events celebrating The LEGO Batman Movie. Kids will be called to put their detective skills to the test with themed activities as well as make & play...

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes and Noble Alamance Crossing Shopping Center
3125 Waltham Blvd
Burlington, NC  27215
View map »


Telephone: 336-774-0800
Website »

More information

Joins us as we watch Muscle Shoals, a documentary that celebrates Rick Hall, the founder of FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and the signature sound he developed in songs such as...

Cost: Free

Where:
Glenn McNairy Branch Library
4860 Lake Jeanette Road
Greensboro, NC  27455
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Website »

More information

The new stage play on the life of Nelson Mandela. Part of the Stokes County Arts Council's Winter Dessert Series. Desserts are available one hour before production.

Cost: $5-$12

Where:
The Arts Place of Stokes
502 N. Main St.
Danbury, NC  27016
View map »


Website »

More information

What an amazing couple of ladies Sadie and Bessie Delaney are. Bound together by more than 100 years of life, love and laughter, they’re sharing their stories of an American century. From...

Cost: $10-$53

Where:
Hanesbrands Theatre
209 N. Spruce St.
Winston-Salem, NC  27101
View map »


Telephone: 336-747-1414
Contact Name: Triad Stage Box Office
Website »

More information

Chrysalis Chamber Music Institute students showcase their talents playing side-by-side with their teachers in compositions by Györgi Ligeti, Felix Mendelssohn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Cost: $18 Regular/$15 Student with valid ID

Where:
Waston Hall - UNCSA
1533 S Main St
Winston Salem, NC  27127
View map »


Sponsor: UNC School of the Arts
Telephone: 133-672-11945
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Classic meets cutting edge. Members of the Taylor II company, in residence at UNCSA, will join School of Dance students in the ebullient Esplanade, one of Paul Taylor’s most popular works....

Cost: $18 Regular/$15 Student with valid ID

Where:
Stevens Center of the UNC School of the Arts
405 W 4th St
Winston Salem, NC  27101
View map »


Telephone: 133-672-11945
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Join the quest! Learn about energy – what it is, where it comes from, how we use it and why it’s so important to use it wisely. Conservation Quest® delivers important conservation...

Cost: Included with museum admission

Where:
SciWorks
400 W. Hanes Mill Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27105
View map »


Website »

More information

Mowgli, bounds through the jungle and learns what it means to be human. Specially adapted from the classic Disney animated film, the play features a host of colorful characters and your favorite...

Cost: $5-9

Where:
Starr Theatre
520 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC  27406
View map »


Sponsor: Community Theatre of Greensboro
Telephone: 336-333-7470 x202
Contact Name: Victoria Ball
Website »

More information

In celebration of Black History month, St. Philips Heritage Center will host a fun daily quest for kids to learn about enslaved and free African Americans who worked and lived in Salem. Complete...

Cost: $

Where:
St. Philips Heritage Center at Old Salem
900 Old Salem Road
Winston-Salem, NC  27101
View map »


Telephone: 336-721-7300
Website »

More information

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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The all-new 2015-2016 Education Guide is packed with everything parents need to know to navigate more than 500 education options and resources in the Triad, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

GPS [Go. Play. See]

It's your complete family guide to Triad living. Parents are busy and on the go. Use this guide to help you explore all this great area offers for families in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point and surrounding communities.

Exceptional Child

For parents of kids with special needs, finding help and support can be challenging. We've compiled valuable resources for Triad parents in our latest annual publication, Exceptional Child, which is also available as a digital guide.