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Benefits of the Massage in Schools Programme (MISP)

The Massage in Schools Programme (MISP) is a programme of positive touch and clothed peer massage (child to child massage) for children of 4-12 years.  Since the introduction of the MISP in 2000, there have been research studies to assess the benefits of the programme. 


Benefits to children

Research studies and teacher observations have shown the following benefits.

Massage helps children:

• Become calm
• Improve concentration and memory
• Distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate touch
• Increase in self confidence
• Improve coordination
• Work with a range of children so increasing social integration
• Develop respect for others
• Think about how they feel and their likes and dislikes
• To be able to speak about how they feel


Children show respect for their partners by:

• Asking permission and saying ‘thank you’
• Checking pressure
• Accepting that their partners may not want a massage
• Doing their best for their partners
• Accepting critical comments and adapting what they do


Children increase in self confidence when:

• Partners say ‘thank you’ and praise what they have done well
• They can adapt the massage to suit their partners
• They can work with a range of partners
• They see their skills and coordination increase


Extracts from studies

“Data analysis confirmed that P2 pupils who participated in the MISP over a six-week period made significant improvements in concentration (as measured by on-task behaviour), compared to a control group of P3 children.”
The Renfrewshire Massage in Schools Programme (MISP), an evaluation of its impact in a primary school.  May 2005

“Findings indicate the intervention had a positive effect on children’s relationships both in the classroom and in the playground: increasing social networks, creating a sense of calm and reducing aggressive behaviours.”
Education and Research Centre at Brighton University 2008


Children’s comments
“It made me concentrate and made me rest, calm and made me work a bit harder in school and a bit at home”

“It was relaxing, a time when you can forget about your worries and have a peaceful time.”


Benefits to the school
In school, the Massage in Schools Programme links with the school curriculum as it contributes to children's Emotional Health and Wellbeing (Healthy Schools), Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE), Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) and the objectives of Every Child Matters.   The use of the programme aids social integration throughout the school community and contributes to a school’s anti-bullying measures. 


Teachers’ comments
“Our year 1 are very immature and boisterous.  They needed to develop cooperation skills and an understanding of how their touch affects others.  Their teachers have been very impressed by the way the children have developed in these areas and use it (MISP) daily to refocus after morning break.”
SENCO, Somerset


“Individuals in need have responded so well to such positive touch.  They have then asked staff “Can I have a hug?”  Children who have learnt massage take booklets home and massage the family.  Children are proud of their skills. It is going so well that we would be interested in having training for the whole staff.”
Teacher, Sheffield


“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.”
Teacher, Gwent, Wales


Benefits to parents
Children take the programme home and use it with their parents and siblings.  It provides an opportunity for family discussion and relaxation!


Parents’ comments
“Lena enjoys doing massage and tries out the movements on us at home, which is very nice.  She asks permission first though!”  Parent of girl in Year 4

“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

“She came home totally relaxed.  She explained how it was done and what they were called.  She has totally enjoyed it and so have we.” Parent of girl in Year 3


Go to ‘Training’ and find out how to train as a Massage in Schools Programme (MISP) Instructor.

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