Classroom teddy bears 'encourage competitive parenting'

The TES said the practice of pupils taking classroom toys home for the weekend is leading to 'one-upmanship' among parents

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The Independent Online

The practice of children taking home a classroom teddy bear and recording how they spend their time with the fluffy companion is breeding new levels of competitive parenting.

Many schools use cuddly toys to encourage parents to spend time with their children and pupils to practise writing and storytelling skills.

But the TES says the recording of these activities in a special book is leading to one-upmanship among parents, the BBC reported.

And some schools have said that parent politics have led them to stop using the toys as an educational tool.

Every Friday, thousands of children across the country excitedly anticipate their chance to take home the beloved classroom cuddly toy.

It is accompanied by an exercise book full of anecdotes and photos or drawings recording what previous children and their parents got up to while the toy was in their possession – and the latest host family are encouraged to document their own experiences. 

The TES says anecdotes from teachers suggest some parents have become over-competitive, using the diary to showcase their impressive timetable of weekend activities.

Instead of simple visits to the park or walks in the countryside teachers report that bears have spent weekends attending orchestra rehearsals, piloting ships and enjoying high-profile events.

On the other hand, some parents appear to compete to show their disinterest in the whole idea.

One teacher told the TES they had received the class bear diary with a photo caption, saying: “The bear wandered aimlessly around B&Q, looking at taps.”

TES editor Ann Mroz told the BBC reviews of postings in online forums suggested “parents find themselves nosing through the bear's diary to see what it has been up to on previous weekends and they start to judge and compare.

"We've seen, through online discussion boards, that some parents have been reduced to tears over having the bear for the weekend.

“Some parents work all weekend, while others struggle with the English language to the point that just writing the report becomes a stressful exercise.

"It's unfair that they should be judged harshly by other parents as a result."

She added: "The class bear is a great teacher tool but some simple changes could really help take the edge off the competitiveness."