Massage in Schools Programme



“If you have a child leaving school with high self-esteem then the education system has achieved its greatest goal. The Massage In Schools Programme (MISP) helps with this objective.”

Roger Brown, OFSTED Inspector, December 2005

The Massage in Schools Programme was created by two inspirational women Mia Elmsater & Sylvie Hetu. The child-to-child massage programme has been developed as an inclusive whole school strategy for reducing children’s stress levels, aggression and bullying. The MISP is a well-structured yet simple programme. The clothed, peer massage is:

  • For children 4-12 years old
  • Given and received with the child’s permission
  • Given by the children, to each other
  • On the back, head, arms and hands
  • 10-15 minutes daily
  • All children ask permission from each other before they start and say ‘thank you’ to their partner at the end.

The MISP is an effective tool for improving child mental health and has had positive benefits for the children participating, such as improved concentration and increased confidence. Children are empowered to make choices and they develop respect for the needs and feelings of others. Members of the school community and parents are consulted before implementing the Massage in Schools Programme, which links to aspects of the school curriculum.

It takes 10 minutes over 6 weeks per class and positive touch activities also contribute to schools’ teaching and learning styles. The programme has been implemented in schools throughout the UK and many of them have reported the following benefits and effects:

  • Children become calmer and have improved concentration
  • Children have more confidence and increased self esteem
  • It teaches children to respect others and leads to social inclusion
  • There is a reduction in bullying and aggression
  • Emotional health improves
  • It helps children recognise ‘good’ and ‘bad’ touch
  • Children show improved motor skills
  • It encourages visualisation and kinaesthetic learning
  • Children are encouraged to make choices
  • Cooperation improves as children work in pairs and in groups
  • There is a calmer classroom environment

The children enjoy it and here are some children’s quotes:

I like doing the massage because it is calm and gentle.

Since starting the massage I do not get bullied because I am friendlier

When I give massage I feel good because I feel like I have helped someone relax.

Massage makes me feel happy and I have loads more friends

Since doing massage my handwriting is better.

Teacher’s quotes:

Children enjoy it very much. It creates a calm environment and children become more careful about the way they behave towards others. They are thoughtful and considerate. Parents and other staff can see the benefits. Children have learnt how to respect each other and be polite. Children have enjoyed working with all their peers. It calms children after lunch so they are ready for the afternoon session.
It encourages tactile learning .It supports our anti-bullying policy. Children are more caring to each other, especially those who have not shown this side of their nature.
Incidents of ‘negative touch’ have definitely decreased since establishing the massage daily. Some strong relationships have formed between massage partners who would not otherwise have been friends.

Parent’s quotes:

Joe enjoys the massage sessions. He is very good at relieving headaches and stress when massaging me. He also massages his disabled sister.
Parent of boy in year 5.

Milly was very enthusiastic about the massage programme and loved to try out all the new moves. I enjoyed being her guinea pig! I liked the way each technique was given a 'child friendly' name.
Parent of child in year 3

Every Child Matters

The Massage in Schools Programme is a high quality inclusive programme that can be used creatively within all curriculum areas and age groups and links to areas of current government initiatives relating to children, such as Every Child Matters.

Benefits to schools

“The Massage In Schools Programme is a fun, whole school, preventative strategy for promoting respect and reducing bullying. It is a strategy that I feel should be considered by all primary schools fitting, as it does, into all the below initiatives.”
John Stead - NSPCC Education Advisor and DfES anti-bullying co-ordinator for West Yorkshire

The diagram below shows the different ways you can use the MISP in your school’s curriculum.

MISP Diagram

However the MISP offers much more, including the following benefits:

  • It’s a positive model for emotional health and well being
  • Provides a positive tool against bullying
  • Helps children receive and give nurturing touch, bringing the associated benefits of massage
  • Enables children to feel good about themselves, raising self esteem
  • Encourages an environment of care and respect
  • Teaches the difference between positive, healthy touch and negative, inappropriate touch.
  • An inclusive programme that embraces all abilities, faiths and races
  • Encourages and sustains creative and fun approaches to learning
  • Encourages children to learn from each other and work together
  • Supports the learning of subjects from across the curriculum