The Elf on a Shelf is a holiday tradition for many families. I am sure you have all seen your friends posting all the cool photos of the Elf on a Shelf. There is even a principal who is dressing up as the Elf on a Shelf and hiding around his school! Talk about school spirit!
If you are not familiar with Elf on a Shelf, it is a children's book about Santa's scout elves who are his eyes and ears at a child's house. It comes with a Elf doll that you name and in the morning, children wake up and find him in many 'unique' places! (I think my favourite so far was the elf who was frozen in a glass of water beside an Elsa doll! LOL). It is hard to find them around Christmas (Therapyware has them for $35.95 now on sale 25% off).
However, I bet some of you have also seen the recent controversy (CBC: "Festive fun or Santa's Sinister Spy"). Some are claiming that teaching children that an elf is watching their every move starts to normalize constant surveillance. They are claiming that it can "normalize an invasion of privacy" and "set children up for dangerous uncritical acceptance of power structures". It has sparked interesting debate.
In observing some of the comments and debate, I am struck by how much we all seem to feel we MUST follow the exact directions and intent of the book! If you have concerns about normalizing surveillance or you have an anxious child.... MODIFY!!! I have long been a proponent of modifying a book so you can individualize it based on the child. SO I hereby grant permission to everyone that YOU DON'T HAVE TO FOLLOW THE RULES of the ELF GAME! The directions that come with a game are a guideline and can be modified to whatever you want! Don't limit yourself to the imagination of the author... How about every child takes a turn hiding the Elf on different nights? How about brainstorming different hiding places as a family and writing/drawing them on a note to put in a jar to pick out each night? How about playing hide and seek with the Elf and giving preposition hints (in, on, under)? The options are unlimited!
It doesn't matter what your traditions are this time of year. Anytime a family is involved and engaged together in games and activities, children will grow and learn in ways we can't even imagine!
Merry Christmas! (from a Therapyware Elf!)