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Circle Time: Preparing for the Back to School Season

Circle Time: Preparing for the Back to School Season

Circle Time: Preparing for the Back to School Season

PlanToys Circle Time: Preparing for the Back to School Season

The arrival of a new school year introduces both excitement and challenges. Children and adults prepare for an adventure of fresh learning experiences. While school undoubtedly holds its benefits, there may also be some hurdles to overcome, including meeting new teachers, classmates, and adapting to routines.

In this circle time session, we're here to offer insights into effectively managing these situations. Additionally, we're sharing sustainable shopping tips and strategies for enhancing learning at home. We've also included a list of PlanToys that effortlessly blend enjoyment with education.


1. Create a Daily Plan

Creating a daily plan can greatly aid children in comprehending their upcoming tasks and supporting them in maintaining a structured routine. Enhance clarity by incorporating visuals. Below are a few suggestions that might be useful when creating a schedule:

  • Encourage kids to draw 'social stories.' Visual aids can enhance children's comprehension of a schedule. You can use velcro for easy arrangement on a schedule.
  • To ensure their durability throughout the school year, consider laminating the drawings. 
  • Make a condensed version of the schedule that children can carry in their bags and reference when needed.
  • Keep the home schedule in a common area where it can easily be referenced by other members of the family.
  • Encourage children to grasp that even with planned schedules, unforeseen changes can occur. Simulate a scenario to prepare them for such situations.


3. Gather Supplies & Information on What to Expect

With the arrival of a new school year, there comes the task of shopping for supplies. While it's important to follow the supply list provided by your teachers and school, consider organizing school supply swaps and taking the time to thoroughly understand the necessary items. Below are some tips that can help you shop thoughtfully and ensure your supplies last:

  • Take a look at your collection of school supplies from previous years and evaluate what can be reused. Reach out to family members and siblings to check if they have their own stash that you can go through.
  • Breathe new life into older items. A backpack could easily be updated through a thorough cleaning and a dash of personalization using patches and keychains, making it feel like new once more.
  • Opt for shopping small when getting new supplies. Local toy and stationery stores offer a range of school items tailored to children's preferences. Durable and enjoyable supplies like pencil cases and backpacks can remain part of a child's school routine for years.
  • Reach out to friends and organize a supply swap—a perfect way to prevent items from ending up in landfills and find something "new" for your family.


3. Assist Children in Developing Social Awareness

While schools provide great chances for social growth, certain situations can be overwhelming for children, especially those without siblings or who are new to the school experience. The below suggestions can help when teaching children how to navigate a variety of social situations:

  • Devise scenarios to show children what they might face and guide them in using gestures or words to handle situations. Guide them to seek assistance from adults if communication becomes challenging or their needs aren't being addressed.
  • Encourage children to connect by asking appropriate questions and involving others in group activities. 
  • Emphasize sharing and openness within a child's comfort zone. Remind children to let others finish speaking before adding to the conversation. Visual queues can support them in letting others know when they have something to share.
  • Assist children in recognizing when they feel uncomfortable sharing information and teach them how to gracefully exit a conversation.
  • Embrace peers' interests and find ways to connect.
  • Read our Diversity & Inclusion Circle Time blog for more insights.


4. Include a Personal Element

Support children by including notes or a beloved small item to help them during school. If you're including a physical item in their bag, check with the school and teacher to make sure it's acceptable. Small tokens, notes, and drawings create memorable moments and maintain a link to loved ones and comforting places, even when they're away from home.

It may be best to keep sentimental and irreplaceable items at home to prevent them from being lost. You can illustrate them on paper or include a photo to keep them close when traveling.


5. Create a Routine for Home Learning

Enhance a child's learning at home by providing a dedicated homework area and a collection of toys that strengthen their educational path.

PlanToys offers an array of toys that blend personal interests with learning, including options that grow alongside them. Below is a curated selection:

Dino Set - 12M+

Teach children about history and animals with figures that are easy to grasp and count.

Cone Sorting - 18M+

Part of the Unit Plus series, this inviting set of 9 blocks in various shapes introduces children to colors, shapes, and patterns at an early age.

Sort & Count Cups - 18M+

With 5 cups and 25 tokens, this set is ideal for transforming math into a fun activity. It can also be used in a sensory bin with dry ingredients. Also available in Orchard.


These sets introduce children to numbers and letters with visuals and grooves that are designed for easy finger tracing.


These sets include 26 letters that aid children in spelling, constructing words, and recognizing vowels and consonants. They can be utilized for open-ended play, tracing, or combined with dough or dry sensory materials.

Download printables from the product pages to enhance the learning experience.

Numbers & Symbols - 2Yrs+

Acquire mathematical skills using handheld numbers accompanied by double-sided tokens featuring mathematical symbols.

Download printables from the product pages to enhance the learning experience.


These tiles guide children in developing language skills through hand gestures. They improve overall communication and foster connections with individuals of diverse abilities.


These tiles facilitate braille learning. It not only fosters inclusivity but also empowers children to communicate effectively with individuals of diverse abilities.

Build-A-Robot - 3Yrs+

Assist children in recognizing their emotions and communicating effectively with this robot which includes 4 interchangeable heads with various emotions.

Math Bingo - 3-99Yrs+

Develop new math skills and reinforce existing ones together as a family with this mathematical twist on the classic game of bingo.

100 Counting Cubes - 3Yrs+

Another adaptable toy within the Unit Plus series, this set grows with children, starting from fundamental counting and color lessons and progressing to fractions, pattern formation, and fostering creative growth.

Children can opt to replicate shapes from the cards or freely create their own designs through open-ended play.

Activity Clock - 3Yrs+

Assist children in creating a routine while also teaching them how to read time using this sturdy 12-hour clock. The clock includes interchangeable cards that can be switched out to help children manage their day.


This table and chair are ideal for homework. The table has a chalkboard surface and a center storage container for small toys or supplies.

 Click here to view the full PlanToys Learning & Education collection. 


Click here to download, print, and enjoy this back to school coloring page.

Below are helpful resources to help you and your family navigate school and changes in a routine. We encourage you to continue self-educating through trusted sources and speak directly to an educator or child expert to suit your family's needs. Below are a few of the sources we looked to when compiling this information: 

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