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Simple rules for playing in the sandbox

The weather is nice and it's a good time to find new playmates. As a child, I really liked playing in the sandbox, and what's more, with my little customers, I can forget myself there for hours.

We had a very active morning with a four-year-old little one. The weather (in England) has been beautiful, and those who know me know that I don't give children screens so the scene was set for the children to play outside in the sandbox. First all the leaves, cones and weeds growing in the sandbox were removed. Since we didn't have a large sieve to sift through the sand, the mesh toy bag we had on hand was perfectly suitable for separating the leaves and debris larger than the sand. The most positive thing was that we immediately had different games. We tried to make different shapes out of sand, and it was also nice to just dig our feet into the sand.

To encourage children to play in the sandbox, the parent/caregiver has to make it interesting. Play with your child and show an example that everything can be made from sand. All you need to get started is a small bucket and a scoop. (Later, you can get some sharp sand moulds, a sieve or a small rake).

Some simple rules with children that I have applied for years when going to play in the sandbox, and it does not matter if it is a sandbox in the backyard or a sandbox in a large park.

  • If you go to the sandbox where there are other children in front of you and you want to play with them, always ask "can I play with you" or if you still lack the courage, an adult chaperone or an older sister/brother can help by asking.

  • Do not go to the sandbox with food and drink. Would you like it if your child found someone's lollipop or soda and started consuming it when it is no longer fit to eat? Choking accidents are also more likely in an environment not suitable for food consumption. Taking food to the sandbox also brings up the ever-increasing risk of crossing paths with a child that has a severe allergic reaction. Finally it would be hard to avoid inedible sand finding its way into tummies via sticky hands.

  • Shoes and socks/stockings do not belong in the sandbox (especially during summer and warm weather). Why is that? After I had to search for two pairs of socks and three pairs of shoes in an insanely large area covered with sand at the playground of the Princess Diana Memorial (in London) for almost an hour, I decided that only bare feet would go into the sandbox. First of all, if you already have sand in your shoes, they will be removed, as well as socks/tights. What made my experience more comical was that the children had hidden their shoes and socks under the sand during a game. It is also much easier to remove sand from bare feet than trainers, the latter can sprinkle sand in the household for some time.

  • Sandbox toys - don't rely on the fact that others have these toys and your child can play with them. First of all, always keep a few sandbox toys with you when you go outside, and secondly, if it happens that you are going to play in the sandbox unplanned, always ask permission from the owner of the toys there/or the parent but be prepared for a negative answer. Let the child choose, for example, 3-4 things each time if there are more of them, because then you can keep an eye on them so that they don't walk off with another child from the sandbox. I have put my name and phone number on the things (I have repeatedly received a message that someone's child has taken our toys or bucket with them and the next time the things were returned to us 🙂). Broken shovels and buckets should be replaced with new ones, because their sharp corners can do a lot of mischief to your own and other children. Don't leave broken sandbox toys in the sandbox with the thought that at least the children have something to play with - trash belongs in the trash.

  • Good behaviour in the sandbox means not taking other children's toys without asking permission. Do not break other people's sandcastles or other shapes and do not run around in the sandbox, because the sand coming up from under the feet can easily get into the mouth, eyes and hair of other children. The sand remains in the sandbox and is not carried anywhere else in the play area not intended for this purpose. Sand is not thrown at friends or anyone at all. There is no yelling or screaming in the sandbox.

  • A good parent/guardian, please keep an eye on your child and guide them on how to play with others, and also don't be afraid to tell other children if their behaviour towards your child is not acceptable and even talk to their parents. If you see that your own child is not yet ready to socialise with other children, talk to the child and if the conversation is not useful, you have to find some other activity and try playing in the sandbox again another time. It also doesn't hurt to talk to your child at home about how it's fun to play with other children, what's allowed and what's not.

  • A pet's place is not in the sandbox. If you have a dog or a cat at home that you have taken for a walk, please keep your pet close to you and do not let it freely run into the sandbox with the child and then run around/go crazy there. For this purpose, there are special animal play parks where the sandbox there is created just for your pet.

  • If it's a sandbox with a cover and you're the last ones, please put the cover on and keep the litter clean so it's not a public toilet for free-roaming animals. Would you like your child to play with some animal faeces in the sandbox?!?

  • When leaving the sandbox, always wash your hands and face and, if possible, also the toys, so that as little sand as possible comes home with you. I myself have always undressed my children down to their underwear on the stairs at home in order to reduce sand getting into places not intended for this (armchairs, sofas, carpets, etc.).

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