Not Alone: Keeping an eye on mental health of children during lockdown

Miranda Avery from Cringleford Crackerjacks Pre-School teaches mindfulness to children Picture: Miranda Avery

Miranda Avery from Cringleford Crackerjacks Pre-School teaches mindfulness to children Picture: Miranda Avery

Miranda Avery

Helping children with mindfulness and positivity has been the focus for a Norfolk pre-school teacher during the coronavirus lockdown.

Miranda Avery, or ‘Miranda Panda’ as she is knows to youngsters at Cringleford Crackerjacks Pre-School, has given her backing to the Not Alone mental health campaign being run by the EDP and Evening News to encourage positivity and support.

Mrs Avery, who lives near Wymondham, previously worked privately as a nanny in London but is a passionate advocate for mindfulness in early years education.

The mother-of-two explained: “I was in work the other day in the main school (Cringleford Primary) as a key worker and had a mixed range of children and did a mindfulness group with them, an activity, and asked them - because I don’t think anyone has asked them - how they are feeling?

“And I had all of these answers ‘scared, worried, happy, content’, one said ‘confused’, one said ‘alone’, which was quite telling, and all of these answers were really interesting.

“I was going through steps of how to help with that, like my videos are doing, and yoga, basically mindfulness, how they are connecting with how their bodies cope.

“Mental health is such a big thing and if we deal with it now with the younger generation then I don’t think we’ll have the issues now that we have with adults with mental health.”

MORE: Comedian joins Not Alone campaign to encourage mental health support

While she contributes to a private Facebook group for parents with colleagues at Crackerjacks, Mrs Avery is also making her mindfulness videos - for children up to the age of 10 - available on Twitter through her @MirandaAvery12 account.

Describing her approach further, Mrs Avery explained: “I would be quite direct but you have to be very careful with the issue of mental health. For instance, with the younger ones I would do it through play, puppets, toys, have them feeling comfortable so that they express themselves.

“Sometimes I’ve done it through art, especially for children for whom English is a second language, for instance. I see a huge change in the child when we’re doing music - their whole personality comes out.

“It’s all about expression and not being afraid to talk, this is the main issue, talking and not bottling things up, that’s what I try to get out of the sessions.”

- You can watch our latest Not Alone video, and one of Mrs Avery’s videos, above

- Click here to subscribe to our daily coronavirus newsletter, with all the latest from where you live

- Keep up to date with community efforts during the pandemic in our Norfolk and Waveney Here to Help group on Facebook

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