Pupils taking a hands-on approach to class massage

Pupils Donald Scott, Lucy Robertson, Darcy Daly, Elise Nicol, Sam Blackburn and Jamie MacKenzie show off their skills
Pupils Donald Scott, Lucy Robertson, Darcy Daly, Elise Nicol, Sam Blackburn and Jamie MacKenzie show off their skills
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FOR most people it is a way to relax and unwind after a long, hard day’s work.

Now one Capital school has taken a hands-on approach to keeping pupils calm and inspiring ideas.

Youngsters at Currie Primary have been massaging each other during lessons, with teachers insisting concentration levels and behaviour have improved as a result.

Primary two teacher Lynne Munro trained in the Massage in Schools Programme after taking her two sons, Callum, now six, and one-year-old Elliot, to baby massage classes.

The school then paid for all its teachers to learn massage, with it being introduced to classrooms last November.

About 95 per cent of the school’s 350 pupils take part. They each choose a partner – a fellow pupil – to work with, taking turns to massage each other’s back, head, shoulders, neck, arms and hands. Each massage lasts about ten minutes and the pupils are fully clothed throughout.

Mrs Munro said it even had benefits for pupils who didn’t take part.

She said: “Having done baby massage and learning about the benefits, I started to think about the children that I had taught over the years that would have benefited from positive touch.

“When the children massage each other, a chemical called oxytocin is released into the environment which is meant to have a calming effect.

“When we informed parents, a few chose to opt out of it, but we still allow the kids to be in the classroom so they can benefit from the oxytocin.”

She added that pupils’ performance had improved since the massage scheme began.

“It helps children concentrate better and we have found improvements in a calming classroom environment,” she said. “The children look forward to it and see it as a treat.”

The programme has proved popular with pupils.

Seven-year-old Rosie Foulner, who is in primary two, said: “I like getting a massage because it feels nice, it’s calming and it is also fun.”

And, said Mrs Munro, the best massagers have been in demand. “The children are encouraged to choose different partners as they become more familiar with the process.

“Our older children are now aware of who gives the best massage and are keen to go with them.”

International programme

THE Massage in Schools Programme was created by two women, Mia Elmsater and Sylvie Hétu.

Mia has three children and lives in Järna, Sweden. She became a qualified infant massage instructor with the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) in 1986, pioneering infant massage in Sweden and qualifying as an IAIM instructor/trainer in 1990.

Mia created and co-created several massage and touch programmes, including tactile stimulation for children and adults with special needs, touch therapy used in nursing homes, child massage in day care centres, and massage in schools for children of school age.

Together with her colleague Sylvie, Mia has combined her experience to create the Massage in Schools Programme, introducing it to the UK in 1999.

Mother-of-three Sylvie lives in Montreal, Canada, and became a qualified infant massage instructor in 1983 and a qualified instructor trainer in 1989 with the IAIM. She pioneered infant massage in Canada and has been the IAIM international president for 12 years.

The same 15 basic moves are taught in schools across the world.