It’s good to be homeschooling in Raleigh-Durham! When I was brainstorming for this article, my list of favorite resources got so long that I realized this is bound to become a whole series. So to get started, I’ve narrowed to a list of resources I think you need to know about RIGHT NOW if you’re new to homeschooling in the Triangle.
Our Favorite Resources for Homeschooling in the Triangle
Our family is not native to North Carolina, and while I still get homesick for those Pocono mountains once and a while, I have to say that I am very glad we landed where we did.
A huge part of what I love about being here is the resources we have to homeschool, and how following homeschool law doesn’t involve yearly reporting or portfolios.
But there’s so much out there to do! It’s almost overwhelming at times, and I have to fight FOMO (“fear of missing out” – I have teens now, so I’m trying to get hip on the lingo – which is a decidedly unhip thing to say) on a regular basis.
On the other hand, I know that there are 3 big questions we all ask when we get started on this journey, or when the road leads us to a new place:
- How do I get connected?
- Where can I get curriculum and materials?
- Will we ever get out of the house?
If you’re new to homeschooling, or new to the Triangle, buckle up, because I’m putting you on the fast track to the answers with some serious local homeschool awesomeness!
How do you get connected?
The population of homeschoolers here is positively mind-blowing sometimes. We can almost trip over one another. I’ve met other homeschoolers at dance classes, at the grocery store, at Chick-fil-A (they might as well rename it “The Homeschool Cafeteria” anyway) and, of course, the library.
But seriously, you don’t have to go far to find a community to connect with. Now, finding the right community is sometimes a challenge because each one has its own dynamic. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” Raleigh-Durham is almost unmatched in homeschooling diversity. Whether you’re looking for unschoolers or classical homeschoolers, field-trip lovers, or board-gaming enthusiasts, you’re bound to find a kindred spirit somewhere nearby.
Need a little help getting started finding your village? Here are 4 ways to connect:
- North Carolinians for Homeschool Education has a list of regional and local groups, as well as online communities of their own for special interests.
- There are Facebook groups for almost every area and interest. Try starting with N.C. Homeschooling, or Homeschool Moms Around Wake County (ok, biased – I help moderate there). You could also type in your town and county and “Homeschool” and you’ll probably find that too!
- Meetup.com is becoming more and more popular for finding homeschool activities. A search for just Raleigh area turned up 10 groups!
- It CAN be tough to find a community or activity for your kids that is also a match for the support you need as a homeschooling parent. But like those oxygen masks on planes, you have to make sure you’re taking care of you so you don’t burn out. The Triangle Homeschool Resource Village is a support group for you that will be opening for enrollment again in about a month. You can read about what to expect, and then get on the waiting list so you’ll be the first to know when you can sign up!
Where can I get curriculum and materials?
Well, of course, there’s Amazon, Pinterest, and good ol’ Google to help you out there. But when you don’t even know what to look for, it’s overwhelming, isn’t it?
We are so lucky in the Triangle to have a place you can go to actually open books, examine pages, and try out all sorts of learning tools!
The Homeschool Gathering Place (5204 Hollyridge Drive in Raleigh) has been helping homeschoolers from North Carolina and beyond to find the right match for curriculum since 1997. Because they have a large consignment selection as well as brand-new materials to choose from, if you’re looking for it, they probably have it. Or the staff can tell you about it.
The people at HSGP are truly the best thing about the shop. They are so knowledgeable and helpful and they have a great deal of experience among them. If you are having trouble knowing where to start or finding the right tools for your children, all you have to do is ask!
One word of caution: seeing those stacks and stacks of books might take that overwhelmed feeling and turn it to panic.
Just take a deep breath and repeat: “I DON’T have to use ALL THE THINGS.” By the time you finish that sentence once or twice, one of those super staff members will surely see the deer-in-headlights look and come to your aid!
Program this one in your GPS! Once you visit, you’ll find yourself going back again and again.
Will we ever get out of the house?
Yes. As soon as you’re finished reading this article. There’s probably a park nearby and the weather is relatively mild, so what’s stopping you? You’ll probably even see other homeschoolers there!
Ok, ok. Personally, parks are always my solution, but the last winter we spent in PA is memorable for the 40+ inches of snow we had in 9 days, so ANYTHING short of that seems mild and a reason to enjoy the outdoors.
And we DO have an abundance of parks and natural resources in the area to enjoy, not to mention being within a day trip to the coast or the mountains, but if you want to do some real educational exploring in our own backyards, look no further than the fabulous museums!
Each of these really deserves an article of their own, but I promised you a fast track, so here are the highlights of what they have to offer homeschoolers. I hope you’ll go check them out and then come back often to see what’s new in Field Trip articles where I’ll be posting more in-depth guides to these local gems.
- North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
First of all, museum admission is FREE. The exhibits range from hands-on microscope labs to the flora and fauna of North Carolina biomes. For the most up-to-date opportunities, be sure to get on their homeschool mailing list and check out the classes they are offering. If you can’t make it downtown, but need some inspiration, you could easily lose a few hours exploring all the amazing info on the “Learn” page of their website.
- North Carolina Museum of History
Right across the plaza from the NCMNS is another free resource! The North Carolina Museum of History houses local and national historical treasures. Take a look at their web page for homeschoolers before you go, and plan to borrow a History-in-a-Box kit to continue the learning when you get back home!
- North Carolina Museum of Art
Ok, to be honest, I’ve always been too cautious to take my kids to art museums very often. We have braved NCMA on a couple of field trips, and I have to say, it went beautifully, so I just need to get over it because every experience I’ve had at this fascinating museum has been wonderful! If, like me, you worry too much about curious (and slightly clumsy) kids, start by exploring the outdoor art, then check out one of the many activities NCMA plans for families. Dig deeper into art yourself with an educator program and then share learning with your kids by picking up an Explore on Your Own activity guide or tote from an information desk.
Whew! Are you as exhausted as I am? And this is just scratching the surface of the amazing resources we have for homeschooling in the Raleigh-Durham area and throughout the state of North Carolina. I can’t wait to feature more of them in upcoming articles!
Leave a comment at the bottom of the page and let me know if there’s a place, group, or other resource that you really want to know more about and I’ll move it to the top of the article agenda!