Puberty: A Parent’s Survival Guide


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No matter how advanced parents are in the 21st century, it’s normal to feel a pang of panic when it comes to talking to your child about puberty and sex. While there is no easy way to broach the subject, preparing for and getting comfortable with having this necessary discussion need not be a dreaded task.

When a child goes through the physical, cognitive and emotional changes associated with puberty, there’s a wide range of what is considered normal. Pediatricians typically rely on puberty milestones, known as the “Tanner stages,” to predict when your daughter will get her menstrual period, or how far along your son is in a growth spurt. The only certainty about developmental timing is that your child’s growth experience will likely be different from his or her peers. Already sensitive about a changing appearance, your child may be particularly self-conscious if he or she is the first — or last — in that peer group to enter puberty.

How to Ease Your Daughter’s Anxiety

Let her know what to expect.  On average, girls start puberty earlier than boys — between ages 8 and 14, with the average age being 11.  The first signs of female puberty typically include growth of pubic hair and breasts, awareness of body odor and acne. Your daughter’s body may change shape, becoming generally fuller and wider at the hips.

One to two years after these first signs of puberty, she will likely begin menstruating. At this time, consider providing her with a book that might explain the changes in more detail, such as “The Care and Keeping of You” by Valorie Schaefer, (American Girl, 1998. Versions are available for ages 8 and older, and ages 10 and older.)

“You don’t want girls to have a fearful experience when they start bleeding,” says Dr. Curtis McDonald, medical director at the Charlotte Pediatric Clinic.

He suggests putting a strategic plan in place so your daughter is prepared, no matter where or when she gets her first period.

Provide her with what she’ll need before she needs it. Give her a care package to keep in her closet and backpack, which could include deodorant, over-the-counter facial washes and creams, pads, tampons (along with tips for how to use them), and remedies for cramping, such as ibuprofen and a hot water bottle or heating pad.

Remind her of the importance of good health and hygiene. Getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet can help a teen girl feel good about her body, improve her mood and help her focus. Girls in particular need to get plenty of calcium, Vitamin D and iron, McDonald says. Plus, exercise and healthy eating can help alleviate adolescent stresses and influence lifelong routines.

Be supportive and keep communication lines open. As your daughter’s hormones kick in, her motivations may become more socially focused and her need for independence may increase, according to the National Institutes of Health’s Human Brain Mapping study, published in May 2010. Be prepared for mood swings and “attitude” as she deals with shifting hormones.

But remember: You are the adult. Try to keep your cool if she gets frustrated or upset with you. Whether she admits it or not, she needs your support and love.

Know her world. “It may be cliché to talk about girl drama, but it is very real,” says Jeff Parkin, guidance counselor at Durham Academy Middle School in Durham. “The drama ramps up in sixth grade as girls become more socially aware and friends become central, but by eighth grade they are usually mature enough to overcome their issues.”

How to Ease Your Son’s Anxiety

Let him know what to expect. Boys tend to start showing signs of puberty about a year later than girls — between ages 9 and 15, with the average age being 12. Early signs of puberty for boys include growth of pubic hair, increased sweat gland production — aka body odor — and growth of genitals, which is hidden, unlike the very public growth of breasts. Later stages for boys include voice changes, acne, increased muscle mass and a final growth spurt. Keep aneye out for the most obvious of the early signs: sudden growth spurts, an increasing desire for independence, and hard-to-ignore body odor.

Familiarize him with the stages of puberty. Be sure to include information about girls in your discussions, since they will likely start to loom over him and develop breasts before he even enters his first stages of puberty. His knowing what to expect might make him more sympathetic and less self-conscious. Provide him with a detailed and approachable book for boys that explain the changes, like “What’s Happening to Me?” by Alex Frith (Usborne Books, 2006).

Remind him to maintain good hygiene. Parkin has observed that boys don’t express the same angst over puberty and body changes that girls do. This lack of anxiety is comforting, McDonald says, but it also means parents may need to nag at sons about showering daily, brushing their teeth and combing their hair until they become habits.

“It’s a transitional time,” Parkin says. “They don’t have much concern for self-image so they won’t do these things on their own, but it’s an important lesson in growing up — to take responsibility for your appearance.”

While teen boys might be less concerned with self-image than girls, late or early bloomers may be sensitive about being different, or worried that they will never grow. Be aware of this possibility and remind your son of the wide variety in normal development.

Taking on the Teen Years

Clear things up. Not all teens suffer from severe acne, but even dealing with an occasional pimple can be troubling. “Teens are shy about it,” McDonald says. “My patients won’t bring it up on their own.”

Without criticizing your child’s appearance, explain that hormones cause skin changes during puberty and that good hygiene and a daily cleanser can be powerful tools in warding off outbreaks. Over-the-counter acne treatments have “gotten so much better, and many are as effective as prescriptions,” McDonald says. Your pediatrician can offer additional remedies if your child’s case is severe.

Understand teen brain development. Teenagers’ brains do not function like adult brains. While the thrill-seeking, risk-taking, peer-following part has developed, the reasoning area of a teen’s brain will not fully develop until your teen is in his or her mid-20s, according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s “The Teen Years Explained: A Guide to Healthy Adolescent Development” (Center for Adolescent Health, 2009). Keep these very natural tendencies in mind as you are telling your adolescent to “just say no.” One way to protect your teen may be to keep him or her as busy as possible with constructive activities, or to simply have him or her steer clear of attractively dangerous situations.

Make “The Talk” an ongoing conversation. Forget about “the talk.” Issues associated with puberty and growing up should be part of an ongoing and open discussion — not a single, embarrassingly intense lecture, which puts too much pressure on both you and your child. Focus instead on open communication, so that when an issue comes up, you are both comfortable having a conversation about it.

Considering the proliferation of sexual references in movies and on TV, social media and the internet, if you wait until you think your teen should know, you are probably too late. 

“It’s better for a child to hear it from a parent or other mature and trusted source rather than on the bus or on social media,” says Dr. Laura Sinai of Signature Pediatrics in Charlotte. “The best strategy is to be offensive and provide accurate information that reflects your own values.”

Another reason to start having conversations earlier rather than later is that several studies analyzed in a citation published by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2008 (and revised in 2017) concluded that the age of puberty in both boys and girls has been inching younger.

“Kids are developing physically without the cognitive tools to handle it,” says Marcia E. Herman-Giddens, an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, who first identified the issue in a 1997 study at Duke University. “Being open with young children, and providing them with information that will keep them safe, is absolutely key.”

She points out that this information is just as important for kids who don’t develop early so they have context for treating their peers with respect and understanding.

North Carolina public schools, and most private schools, start some form of sex education in the fifth grade. “We find that fifth-graders still have that aspect of curiosity and openness,” Parkin says. “By sixth [grade], they tend to be more self-conscious and less likely to talk.”

Consider starting the conversation with your child before he or she starts learning about it at school or from the media. But keep in mind that the school sessions provide a great opportunity to continue the conversation by asking your child what he or she learned, and whether he or she has any follow-up questions.

Know what they know. Today’s youth have access to a lot more than the basic “birds and bees” information. Many teens have seen internet pornography by the time they are seniors in high school, according to an August 2013 Psychology Today article titled, “Overexposed and Under-Prepared: The Effects of Early Exposure to Sexual Content.” If your teen has no real experience with sex and then is exposed to porn, porn may become his or her baseline for how he or she views sex.

“It’s important to bring this up with kids before they see it,” Sinai says. “You should let them know that porn is about as real as what might happen in a Road Runner cartoon, where the coyote falls off a mountain and hops right back up. Tell them and tell them again: Real people don’t treat real people this way. It is just terrible interpersonal dynamics.”

Know your resources. Every child needs someone to talk to as he or she goes through puberty. If you’re uncomfortable doing this, find a trusted friend or family member who isn’t.

“If a child hides some anxiety inside, then it eats away at them and makes it worse,” McDonald says. “Pull back the curtain and make sure they have the information they need to be comfortable with who they are becoming. Empower kids with information they can handle.”

From “It’s NOT the Stork” for preschoolers by Robie H. Harris (Candlewick Press, August 2006) to “The Teenage Body Book” for teens by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman (Penguin Random House, August 2016), there are helpful books to read with your child no matter what age you decide to introduce him or her to conversations about puberty and hormones. There are also excellent resources online for teens, such as the Center for Young Men’s Health and the Center for Young Women’s Health.

If websites and books don’t fully answer your child’s questions, consult with a professional. Your pediatrician should be your family’s first resource, and can put you in touch with a psychologist who specializes in talking with parents of teens. 

Finally, remember that it is absolutely appropriate for your child to slowly break away from you. Celebrate this growing independence, while keeping your child safe and informed until he or she has matured enough to move forward without your loving assistance.


Caitlin Wheeler is a freelance writer living in Durham.

 

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Telephone: 704-922-7681
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More information

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More information

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Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

See the artwork by the Catawba River Art Guild members that highlight Carolina Piedmont landscapes and native flora and fauna. Selected artworks, representing dozens of artists working in...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

Where:
The Museum of York County
4621 Mt Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 803-329-2121
Website »

More information

Collards + Culture is a life-size installation that explores African culture and how Africans were brought to the Americas through the Middle Passage. This program is part of the ASC Culture...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sugar Creek Library
4045 North Tryon St.
Suite A
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Explore stories and songs through a puppet show created and presented by the Spangler Library storytellers!

Cost: Free

Where:
ImaginOn, Spangler Library
300 E 7th St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-416-4630
Website »

More information

Build navigation skills and find your way to our chosen destination using map, compass, and GPS devices.

Cost: $5

Where:
Latta Plantation Nature Center
6211 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1129
Website »

More information

Learn about local "backyard" birds while listening to bird stories.  Then make a birdfeeder for your backyard.

Cost: Free

Where:
Mooresville Public Library
304 S. Main St
Mooresville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-664-2927
Website »

More information

Katlyn Grasso, founder and CEO of GenHERation, will lead a Young Women’s Leadership Summit entitled “Passion, Potential and Purpose – Discovering your Unique Gifts to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Charlotte Christian School
7301 Sardis Road
, NC  28270
View map »


Telephone: 704-366-5657
Website »

More information

Melissa Lynch is a Gaston County resident who loves experimenting with acrylic pours and alcohol inks. This exhibit features abstract lines and pops of color that represent a transitional time...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

Charlotte’s Road to Revolution Exhibition is composed of 17 original oil paintings by Charlotte artist Dan Nance, 20 interpretive panels and eighteenth-century antiques that tell the story of...

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

Bring your little one to Perfect Balance Training Center for "Tot Time" - an hour of free play in the gym. There is no instructor so parents are in charge of their children. No need to...

Cost: $5 cash or $6 with credit card (monthly special available as well)

Where:
Perfect Balance
8850 Monroe Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

This exhibition explores Mars and mankind's fascination with this world through mythology, history, literature, movies, TV and science. We also look ahead to see what Mars may hold for...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

Where:
The Planetarium at the Museum of York County
4621 Mt Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

A fabulously fun, award-winning musical based on the movie, "Legally Blonde the Musical" follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes and scandal in pursuit of her...

Cost: $15-$17

Where:
Central Piedmont Community College, Pease Auditorium
1201 Elizabeth Ave,
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the term "cabinet of curiosities" with this exhibit that describes a room rather than a piece of furniture. "Cabinets" originated in the 16th century and held large...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

The Year of the Engineer is an initiative celebrating the creativity and imagination of engineers. It includes the opening of an all-new Thinker Space lab and exhibition Think it Up, along with the...

Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

This exhibit features more than 40 of Mexico's leading photographers. The photographs in the museum, ranging from just a few inches to floor-to-ceiling murals, explore an assortment...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibit features 21st century long gowns, from cocktail attire to wedding dresses. Featured creations by Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Issey...

Cost: $6-$15; free for children 4 and under

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Though he is mostly known for his art, Leonardo da Vinci was a creator in more than one way. He designed machines such as the assault tank, submarine, parachute, scuba-diving tank and even a robot....

Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

See the artwork by the Catawba River Art Guild members that highlight Carolina Piedmont landscapes and native flora and fauna. Selected artworks, representing dozens of artists working in...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

Where:
The Museum of York County
4621 Mt Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 803-329-2121
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Toddlers and preschoolers can join Holly Johnson in a music and movement program that features listening to songs and playing a variety of instruments. 

Cost: Free

Where:
ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
300 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-416-4600
Website »

More information

Melissa Lynch is a Gaston County resident who loves experimenting with acrylic pours and alcohol inks. This exhibit features abstract lines and pops of color that represent a transitional time...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

Explore nature through arts and crafts. Each session will have a different theme and participants can take home a craft. Dress for mess. Registration required. 

Cost: $3

Where:
Latta Plantation Nature Preserve
6211 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-875-1391
Website »

More information

Charlotte’s Road to Revolution Exhibition is composed of 17 original oil paintings by Charlotte artist Dan Nance, 20 interpretive panels and eighteenth-century antiques that tell the story of...

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

Bring your little one to Perfect Balance Training Center for "Tot Time" - an hour of free play in the gym. There is no instructor so parents are in charge of their children. No need to...

Cost: $5 cash or $6 with credit card (monthly special available as well)

Where:
Perfect Balance
8850 Monroe Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

Get free entry to the Schiele Museum every second Tuesday of the month from 4-8pm and every fourth Friday of the month from 1-5pm. 

Cost: Free

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 East Garrison Boulevard
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

This exhibition explores Mars and mankind's fascination with this world through mythology, history, literature, movies, TV and science. We also look ahead to see what Mars may hold for...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

Where:
The Planetarium at the Museum of York County
4621 Mt Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

This family-friendly event features craft brews, wine, cider, live music and the best food trucks in Charlotte. Bring the whole family, including your dogs. Along...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sycamore Brewing
2161 Hawkins St.
Charlotte, NC  28203
View map »


Website »

More information

Drop off your children for a night of fun while you hit the town. Activities include laser tag, jump-n-play, rock climbing, mini bowling, ropes courses, bumper cars, and arcade games. Children...

Cost: $25 online, $30 at the door

Where:
Sports Connection - Ballantyne or Northlake Locations
, NC


Website »

More information

A fabulously fun, award-winning musical based on the movie, "Legally Blonde the Musical" follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes and scandal in pursuit of her...

Cost: $15-$17

Where:
Central Piedmont Community College, Pease Auditorium
1201 Elizabeth Ave,
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the term "cabinet of curiosities" with this exhibit that describes a room rather than a piece of furniture. "Cabinets" originated in the 16th century and held large...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

The Year of the Engineer is an initiative celebrating the creativity and imagination of engineers. It includes the opening of an all-new Thinker Space lab and exhibition Think it Up, along with the...

Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

This comedic play centers around a young architect who is visited by a man he's never met but who saved his life in Vietnam. The visitor turns out to be an incredibility inept, hopeless stupid...

Cost: $28

Where:
Theatre Charlotte, The Eloise Macdonald Playhouse
501 Queens Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

This exhibit features more than 40 of Mexico's leading photographers. The photographs in the museum, ranging from just a few inches to floor-to-ceiling murals, explore an assortment...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibit features 21st century long gowns, from cocktail attire to wedding dresses. Featured creations by Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Issey...

Cost: $6-$15; free for children 4 and under

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Though he is mostly known for his art, Leonardo da Vinci was a creator in more than one way. He designed machines such as the assault tank, submarine, parachute, scuba-diving tank and even a robot....

Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

When a brother and sister move to a new town, the sister refuses to play with her brother fearing the kids in her new school will make fun of her. Then they meet an inventive girl next door...

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
300 E. 7th St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-973-2828
Website »

More information

This is one of Charlotte Ballet’s most popular performances. It showcases contemporary ballet in an intimate setting, and for an added bonus, tickets include a dessert reception...

Cost: $25-$80

Where:
Charlotte Ballet Academy, Center for Dance
701 N. Tryon Street
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-3900
Website »

More information

See the artwork by the Catawba River Art Guild members that highlight Carolina Piedmont landscapes and native flora and fauna. Selected artworks, representing dozens of artists working in...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

Where:
The Museum of York County
4621 Mt Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 803-329-2121
Website »

More information

Armour Street Theatre presents: Snow White. Come watch the dwarves take the stage. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10 plus NC sales tax

Where:
Armour Street Theatre
307 Armour Street
Davidson, NC  28036
View map »


Telephone: 704-892-7953
Website »

More information

Laugh and cry with America's greatest generation and remember the days of World War II. From an exciting collection of 40's favorites to a stirring patriotic medley, this dinner show is...

Cost: $7-$35

Where:
NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy 51
Fort Mill, SC  29715
View map »


Sponsor: NarroWay Productions
Telephone: 803-802-2300
Website »

More information

Your family will have free access to arts, science, and history experiences across Charlotte-Mecklenburg this weekend. Check the online schedule to find out about experiences and opportunities to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Locations vary.
, NC


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

During these ongoing nature programs you may get a tour, see a demonstration or participate in an activity. The program is designed to inspire children and adults to explore the...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

Where:
The Museum of York County
4621 Mt. Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 803-329-2121
Website »

More information

n coordination with Independence Mazda, The Humane Society of York County and South Charlotte Dog Rescue, the Puppy Bowl is bringing you tons of adorable, adoptable dogs of all ages and sizes who...

Cost: Free

Where:
Independence Mazda
6735 E. Independence Blvd
Charlotte, NC  28212
View map »


Telephone: 704-839-0287
Website »

More information

Attend this free storytime as part of ASC Connect with Culture Day. 

Cost: Free

Where:
North County Regional Library
16500 Holly Crest Lane
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

During this festival, you can explore current exhibitions, make your own masterpieces and enjoy live music all for free. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon Street
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

In a powerful musically driven story of giving, three hungry travelers create a magnificent feast from scratch.

Cost: $14+

Where:
Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts
430 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

This popular fairytale of empowerment, determination, and triumph is brought to life with traditional marionettes and classical music.

Cost: Free

Where:
Community House Middle School - Cafeteria
9500 Community House Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

To celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year, visitors are invited to discover the history behind the popular Vietnamese lion dance and create dancers of their own to take home.

Cost: Free

Where:
Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Register for one of the followng free classes as part of ASC Connect with Culture Day: Youth Trapeze: Ages: 6 – 17 Learn how to fly on two ropes and a bar! Aerial Silks for Adults:...

Cost: Free

Where:
Caroline Calouche and Co.
9315-E Monroe Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn how Mother Nature creates snow, sleet and hail.

Cost: Free

Where:
Reedy Creek Nature Preserve
2900 Rocky River Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1119
Website »

More information

Engage your young readers with books that encourage language and reading skill development, and helps them grow into successful, life-long readers. Ballerina Cara Hansvick of the Charlotte Ballet...

Cost: Free

Where:
Beatties Ford Road Regional Library
2412 Beatties Ford Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The Performance Company from Matthews Playhouse will present songs and scenes from their upcoming productions including: Freedom Train, Jungle Book, The Lion King, Jr., Peter Pan and South Pacific.

Cost: Free

Where:
Matthews Community Center
100 McDowell Street East
Matthews, NC  28105
View map »


Telephone: 704-846-8343
Website »

More information

As part of ASC Connect with Culture Day, you can attend this performance for free. Register online. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Armour Street Theatre
307 Armour St
Davidson, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for a free Oyster Roast at Reid's Myers Park. All oysters are first come, first serve, until we run out!

Cost: Free

Where:
Reid's Fine Foods
2823 Selwyn Ave.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Melissa Lynch is a Gaston County resident who loves experimenting with acrylic pours and alcohol inks. This exhibit features abstract lines and pops of color that represent a transitional time...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

Free performances of Snow White, Stone Soup, The Imaginators, Balloonacy and other nearby performances are available today as part of the ASC Connect with Culture Day. Registration is required...

Cost: Free

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

Need a reason to get outside this winter? Take part in Latta Quest! This weekly activity will engage your family in all that Latta Plantation Nature Preserve has to offer.  There will...

Cost: Free

Where:
Latta Plantation Nature Center
6211 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC  28078
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1129
Website »

More information

Lakeshore Learning Stores provide fun, free crafts every Saturday. Visit the website to see this week's featured craft of the week. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Lakeshore Learning Store
10005 E. Independence Blvd.
Matthews, NC  28105
View map »


Telephone: 704-849-2450
Website »

More information

Come to family storytime at Barnes & Noble. Activities to follow. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble, Morrison Place
4020 Sharon Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-364-0626
Website »

More information

Charlotte’s Road to Revolution Exhibition is composed of 17 original oil paintings by Charlotte artist Dan Nance, 20 interpretive panels and eighteenth-century antiques that tell the story of...

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

There is a drum lesson for children ages 3-18 from 11am-noon, followed by a drum circle for all ages from noon-1pm. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Albemarle Road Recreation Center
5027 Idlewild Road
Mint Hill, NC
View map »


Telephone: 914-419-6438
Website »

More information

Fish are one of America’s most popular pets, and one of the most diverse and interesting. Join us for a story and some fun facts about our friends with fins and make a goldfish craft to...

Cost: $8, includes museum admission

Where:
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: (704) 372-6261
Website »

More information

Check out the fashion gallery and 18th century portraits and draw and collage a fabulous fabric portrait. Children and their adult companions can create, explore and visit the...

Cost: $16; $12 for members

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibition explores Mars and mankind's fascination with this world through mythology, history, literature, movies, TV and science. We also look ahead to see what Mars may hold for...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

Where:
The Planetarium at the Museum of York County
4621 Mt Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

BounceU knows that sometimes parents deserve a little time by themselves. Drop off your kids for a night of non-stop bouncing and games. It’s more fun and probably less expensive than hiring...

Cost: $20 per child

Where:
Bounce U, Charlotte and Matthews locations
, NC


Telephone: 704-921-8771
Website »

More information

A fabulously fun, award-winning musical based on the movie, "Legally Blonde the Musical" follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes and scandal in pursuit of her...

Cost: $15-$17

Where:
Central Piedmont Community College, Pease Auditorium
1201 Elizabeth Ave,
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the term "cabinet of curiosities" with this exhibit that describes a room rather than a piece of furniture. "Cabinets" originated in the 16th century and held large...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

The Year of the Engineer is an initiative celebrating the creativity and imagination of engineers. It includes the opening of an all-new Thinker Space lab and exhibition Think it Up, along with the...

Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

This comedic play centers around a young architect who is visited by a man he's never met but who saved his life in Vietnam. The visitor turns out to be an incredibility inept, hopeless stupid...

Cost: $28

Where:
Theatre Charlotte, The Eloise Macdonald Playhouse
501 Queens Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

This exhibit features more than 40 of Mexico's leading photographers. The photographs in the museum, ranging from just a few inches to floor-to-ceiling murals, explore an assortment...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibit features 21st century long gowns, from cocktail attire to wedding dresses. Featured creations by Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Issey...

Cost: $6-$15; free for children 4 and under

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Though he is mostly known for his art, Leonardo da Vinci was a creator in more than one way. He designed machines such as the assault tank, submarine, parachute, scuba-diving tank and even a robot....

Cost: $13-$17, includes museum admission

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Come watch this comedic play that explores the power of friendship. A mischievous balloon finds its way into the home of a solitary elderly man, and suddenly his grumpy life is interrupted. ...

Cost: $12-$17

Where:
ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
300 E. 7th St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-973-2828
Website »

More information

This 1930s-inspired musical based on the classic book is coming to ImaginOn. Mr. Popper spends his time daydreaming of adventures while Mrs. Popper saves to put beans on the table. When a spirited...

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
300 E. 7th St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-973-2828
Website »

More information

When a brother and sister move to a new town, the sister refuses to play with her brother fearing the kids in her new school will make fun of her. Then they meet an inventive girl next door...

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
300 E. 7th St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-973-2828
Website »

More information

This is one of Charlotte Ballet’s most popular performances. It showcases contemporary ballet in an intimate setting, and for an added bonus, tickets include a dessert reception...

Cost: $25-$80

Where:
Charlotte Ballet Academy, Center for Dance
701 N. Tryon Street
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-3900
Website »

More information

See the artwork by the Catawba River Art Guild members that highlight Carolina Piedmont landscapes and native flora and fauna. Selected artworks, representing dozens of artists working in...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($5-$8)

Where:
The Museum of York County
4621 Mt Gallant Road
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 803-329-2121
Website »

More information

Armour Street Theatre presents: Snow White. Come watch the dwarves take the stage. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10 plus NC sales tax

Where:
Armour Street Theatre
307 Armour Street
Davidson, NC  28036
View map »


Telephone: 704-892-7953
Website »

More information

Laugh and cry with America's greatest generation and remember the days of World War II. From an exciting collection of 40's favorites to a stirring patriotic medley, this dinner show is...

Cost: $7-$35

Where:
NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy 51
Fort Mill, SC  29715
View map »


Sponsor: NarroWay Productions
Telephone: 803-802-2300
Website »

More information

Your family will have free access to arts, science, and history experiences across Charlotte-Mecklenburg this weekend. Check the online schedule to find out about experiences and opportunities to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Locations vary.
, NC


Website »

More information

Join us in Town Center for family story time as we read Over in the Arctic Where the Cold Wind Blows by Marianne Berkes. We’ll learn about some of the animals that...

Cost: $10, includes museum admission

Where:
Discovery Place KIDS - Huntersville
105 Gilead Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Telephone: (704) 372-6261
Website »

More information

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Annual Guides

GPS [Go. Play. See.]

Your guide to raising kids in the Queen City, plus our 2017 Readers' Favorites for places to play, explore and learn with the kids.

Education Guide

This comprehensive guide covers preschool, private, charter and public schools in Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Union and York counties.
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