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I'm from New Zealand and I have two boys (aged 3 and 1 years). We may be moving to Kent County in Michigan in August, to live there for 4 months! My husband has an offer of work for that time, so if it's confirmed then we'll all go over together. I have a few questions that I thought you ladies could help me with... forgive me if some of my questions are silly!
Do you have toy libraries? We won't be bringing many toys with us and don't want to buy, so would love to be able to hire/borrow some.
What's the deal with preschool? My 3 year old currently goes to what is called "Kindy" over here, which I think is the equivalent of preschool. He goes 3 afternoons a week. How much does preschool cost, and is there a minimum number of hours they must be enrolled?
Can anyone recommend a good preschool in the Kent County area? I'd want my son to be able to make some new friends and have somewhere to play and let off energy (he has a lot of it!) - though I'd only want part-time, not 5 days a week. And it would have to be somewhere that would be OK for him to only be enrolled for 4 months.
Is anyone here from Kent County or nearby? Do you know of any good things for Moms to take kids to? For example here we have Mainly Music (singing/dancing led by volunteers), Playgroup (where you just go and the kids have free play), Gym etc. I have 2 very busy boys
What is public transport like? I think I might be too freaked out to drive on the right-hand side of the road!
Welcome! and how exciting on your upcoming move! Good Luck with everything! I'll try and answer your quesitons but i'm not in MI so i may or may not be a lot of help. I can't remember off hand if we have any ladies from MI on the board or if they check in regularly without going back and checking.(Bad Host...i know LOL).
1. Toy Libraries- I don't know if MI has any, i know here in Nebraska (NE) we don't. I have a couple of friends in MI but i've never heard them say anything about toy libraries. I know we do have a lot of consignment stores/thrift stores and also garage sales/yard sales/rummage sales since different people call them different things. Not sure what you have in New Zeland but consignment stores will be the best option if you want like new or new toys since they usually only take very good quality toys/clothes to re-sell for their customers. Thrift stores and garage sales will be the best value but the toys may not be in the best shape though with a 1 and 3 yr old a "new" toy is a new toy to them whether or not it came in a box or has all the pieces. If and when you leave the U.S. you can always donate the toys you accumlate to a daycare center or crisis center for abused women/children who have had to leave their home and are in a shelter or new safe housing.
2. Preschool- here in NE preschool is done by private i guess you would call them non-profit groups, sometimes by the school system, sometimes by the government (Head Start), and more often than not, the local churches. In Arizona they had places like KinderCare and a couple others that are preschool and daycare wrapped into one. The KinderCare types are usually found in the more metropolitan areas with higher populations. Price is going to vary by city/region/ and type of daycare. Here in the midwest our preschool prices are severly lower to the prices i heard people pay in the Phoenix, AZ area. I know here we have preschool for 2-3 yr olds which are usually 2 days a week and 3-4-5yr olds which is 3 days a week. Most children enter kindergarten between 5-6 so some preschools take 5yr olds as well and they may have a different cirriculum due to age and ability.
3. I'll look into a way of finding info on playgroups for you. Can you tell me what major city you'll be close to? I'll ask one of my friends in MI who has children that are about the same age as yours. Can't guarantee anything but she'll have more info on stuff the state of MI offers. You may check out the local public library once/if you move. Ours here does a summer reading program and has crafts/story time/movie time all summer long. On tuesday nights here they do "pajama night" and you come in your pjs and they read a story. That may be a useful tool and just something to do to get out of the house for you.
4. Public transport- again that will depend on how populated your city is. My town in 48,000 and we have no public transportation other than the handicap buses that helps the elderly/disabled get to and from appointments. we also have cabs but that can get costly.
BTW, I'm Annie, the host of Midwest Mommies and have 1 son, Riley (2). and obiviously i live in Nebraska but also lived in Arizona for 6 years prior to having my son.
Baby Girl expected 2.12.13!
Annie :wife to JJ and mommy to Riley
missing our Feb. 2012
Welcome! I grew up in MI but on the east side of the state in a farm town, where Kent County is on the west side and is a bit more urban. Will you be in Grand Rapids or elsewhere? My sister currently lives there but is single so she's no help on kid stuff