What is peer massage?
Peer massage is a simple 15-minute massage routine used in schools from 36 countries to promote a wide-ranging set of benefits in all phases of learning. It aims to promote the wellbeing of children, as nurturing touch is a basic need and can help children develop into healthy, well-balanced young people. Children really enjoy it, every child in the class gets to experience a positive and nurturing touch which prepares them for learning.
Preparing the classroom for peer massage sessions also helps staff provide a calm physical environment for their pupils, by using soothing music essential for the activity.
What happens in a peer massage session?
The children are usually seated one behind the other on chairs or on the floor; this can be in pairs, small lines or a whole class circle! They take turns massaging each other. The massage takes place on the head, shoulders, arms, back and hands, and is always carried out fully clothed. There are a number of massage ‘movements’ which make up the routine, and many schools provide pictures or diagrams to remind the children of the order of massage and the next movement.
Prior to beginning any massage, one of the most important aspects is that children must ask permission before touching each other, and they can always say ‘no’ if they don’t wish to participate in the session that day. However, by remaining in the room and observing the activity it is believed that the calming hormones being released by the massaged children also affect those watching the process.
Minor changes, major benefits
The simple, specific routine which the children learn only takes about 15 minutes out of the timetable of the day. Using that 15 minutes for massage can be more than compensated by the improved concentration during lessons from the children and their more positive attitude towards work and their fellow classmates. It appears that some children develop an increase in self-esteem and confidence. In some cases, it has been recorded that disputes have been reduced within the class, as it is not easy to bully someone who has given you a massage or has participated in the same massage session. As a result, many children begin to approach each other differently and the dynamics of the class change in a positive way.
Schools timetable their peer massage sessions according to the needs of the children. Some schools have their massage immediately after lunch enabling the children to get into a more focused mind set ready to begin their afternoon work. One school reported that they had their massage session at the end of the day, sending the children off for their minibus and taxi rides home in a much calmer frame of mind.
Peer massage takes such a small amount of curriculum time and the reported benefits much outweigh the time used as it can help to:
- Raise levels of concentration
- Increase children’s confidence and self-esteem
- Reduce bullying and aggression
- Increase co-operation in the classroom
- Improve sleep at home
- Help raise standards in school
Children, enjoy the experience, and peer massage alongside other embedded strategies, could help move your school towards your quality improvement goals.
Quality Mark, the nationally recognised accreditation for continuous quality improvement in for English & Mathematics, encourages and examines a variety of teaching approaches to support learning.
See how the use of nurture groups, such as peer massage, can contribute towards your school’s accreditation