Nurturing touch helps pupils grow

Melanie did the Massage In Schools course with children at Denny Primary School
Melanie did the Massage In Schools course with children at Denny Primary School

I originally trained as a primary school teacher in 1980 and gained my Bachelor of Education in 1984. My first teaching post was at Langlees Primary School where I completed my two-year probationary period. Two-and-a-half years later the school roll fell and I was compulsory transferred to Head of Muir Primary School in Denny.

I taught there for many happy years until 2013. Due to ill health in 2014, I retired from full-time teaching. It was a sad time as I missed working with the children. As part of my ongoing health and wellbeing programme, I received massage therapy.

Melanie Anderson

Melanie Anderson

The therapist spoke about her work and I began to think that perhaps I could learn this new skill. So later that year I enrolled in a Holistic Massage course and qualified in 2015 as a Holistic Massage therapist from the Massage Training Institute in Edinburgh. Towards the end of my training, my tutor asked if I knew about MISA, the Massage in Schools Association.

This sounded very interesting with my background in teaching and so I applied for the next available course in November 2015.

The Massage in Schools Programme was first implemented in the United Kingdom in 2000 and is now being used in countries all over the world.

The programme promotes positive and nurturing touch every day in a respectful way for children aged four to 12 years. It is a peer massage programme. Only children massage children whilst adults observe and facilitate the routine.

The children massage through the clothes on back, arms, shoulders and head. There is an ethos of respect as all children request permission to massage before they begin. Any child who does not wish to take part can say no but should remain in the room to watch the routine and to experience the calming and relaxing effect it has.

The benefits of the programme are numerous. As children relax, there is a reduction in stress as massage can induce a relaxation response resulting in improved concentration on studies. It has been proven through research studies that regular nurturing touch is a developmental need in children.

In targeting this need, proven effects of the Massage in Schools Programme include: improved concentration levels; calmer classrooms; increase in children’s self-esteem and confidence; increase in creativity; reduction in bullying and aggression; overall increase in emotional health and wellbeing; greater social awareness and respect for peers.

The Massage in Schools Programme can make a difference to all children who are given the opportunity to experience it.

Denny Primary School head teacher Don McPherson said the pupils benefit from the activity. He said: “We at Denny Primary felt that this programme would help our pupils deal with the stresses that they are under every day. It is well documented in the news how many children suffer stress and anxiety and this was one of a number of initiatives we introduced to help alleviate this. We have found that over the years the pupils really look forward to this time and are more able to have positive interactions.”