1. Sam is really, really specific about certain things. Being late for school makes him nuts. Having more than two things to eat in his lunch box really bothers him. These are two things that don't phase his sister at all, she'd happily stroll into school late every day, and likes to have a zillion things in her lunch box so she can pick and choose what she'd like. But kids are different, and I would never have predicted that my easy going relaxed boy would be the one who's actually scary specific about these things.
2. Third grade is the year they actually start reading books on their own. Not the year they learn to read independently (much to my chagrin - that's kindergarten), but it's the year they actually start WANTING to read independently. Looking back, Jessie's best friend Glennys, (a solid year older), started really reading last year, and I really worried that Jessie wasn't a reader (which is a whole other issue - it's like a professional football player realizing his son doesn't like to throw the ball around - I was crushed when she didn't like to read at home). But this year, about mid-way thru, she just started reading all the time. I'm thrilled.
3a. Preschool really, really does matter. I didn't think it did. I thought it was necessary for socialization, and since Sam had his friends over all the time, I figured we'd be good. We weren't. He never learned to separate from me, and spent most of the first months at kindergarten trying to adjust to not being with me. Between that, and not having that additional year of academic instruction, he really struggled in kindergarten.
3b. It's a not necessarily a bad idea to hold off a year to start kindergarten. Especially if you've got a son (because anecdotal as well as scientific evidence shows that they mature slower than girls, especially in terms of academic readiness), and he's a summer baby. I really, really wish I had known that last year.
4. Playdates matter. I never really did them before, they just seemed silly. My kids had friends - they weren't necessarily the same kids they went to school with, but it's not like they weren't out playing with kids all the time. But what I was missing was that when they socialize outside of school with their school friends - it makes school a lot more fun for them.
5. Girl Scouts Rock. Seriously. It's a freaking great after school activity for girls. Cheap, super fun, and meeting every other week means that it fit in perfectly with her schedule. I'm so glad I signed Jessie up for it this year, she loved it, and I only wish I had started her with it in kindergarten.
6. Having just one baby at home is delicious. Julianna misses her G and her Boy so much during the day, but I love the one on one time with her. We have our own routines and rituals and she's such an easy, easy, happy girl.
That being said - I can't WAIT for the end of school this year. I love summer vacation :-)