Massage in Schools Program

Child massaging partnerUsing massage in schools is quite a new concept in modern day society although massage, in some native and traditional cultures, is as old as mankind itself. It is only in the past century that science has been able to explain the benefits of massage. When the profession of massage therapists became recognised in modern society, studies regarding massage began to emerge everywhere. The studies give credibility to the practice of massage itself as a tool for health, stress management and well being.


The Massage In Schools Program (MISP) was officially founded in the year 2000 by Mia Elmsater from Sweden and Sylvie Hétu from Canada. Both believe in the contagious effect of a credible, well-structured yet simple program. It is with this spirit that they combined their experiences to create MISP. They also believe in the principle that a shared common core curriculum as a solid base is necessary for a program to be successful. This solid base can also serve as a tool to help credibility and professionalism to become an integral part of the ethos of the program. Their ultimate vision is that there will be thousands of MISP instructors and hundreds of MISP Trainers, all teaching the program, all sharing their dedication with love so that the nurturing touch will become a way of life for children in all schools, world-wide.  You can read more about Mia and Sylvie on the international MISP website by clicking on the thumbnails below:

Sylvie Hétu Mia Elmsater
Sylvie Hetu Mia Elmsater

 The Program

The MISP is a simple yet well-structured program that is based on an ethos of respect.  The child-to-child massage program has been developed as an inclusive whole school strategy for reducing children’s stress levels, aggression and bullying, and can actually save teachers time as children settle more quickly to their lessons after their massage time.   

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
  • Introduced into schools by trained instructors
  • A peer massage program (students paired with students)
  • Based on an ethos of respect (for self and others)
  • Child centred (children have he right to say ‘no’ or to ask for changes in pressure)
  • Performed with the child’s permission 
  • An inclusive program
  • Easily implemented in the classroom
  • A way of incorporating all learning styles
  • Appropriate for children 4-12 years of age
  • Easily incorporated into the daily teaching program
  • Applicable across curriculum areas
  • Adaptable for students with special needs
  • Performed on the back, arms and head only (clothed, seated)
  • A proactive model for teaching children to cope
  • FUN!

All children ask permission from each other before they start and say ‘thank you’ to their partner at the end.

The program is an effective tool for improving child mental and emotional 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 Program, which links to aspects of the school curriculum.

Positive touch activities also provide teachers with a tool that enhances their ability to cater for all teaching and learning styles.

Please note that the Massage in Schools Program is covered by international copyright and may only be introduced to children and family groups by a qualified MISP Instructor.


Children massaging partners

Effects of the program

The program has been implemented in hundreds of schools throughout the world, and many of them have reported that:

  • Children are calmer and happier and have increased concentration
  • There is less aggression and bullying evident
  • Children learn the language and actions of self-protection
  • Healthy self-esteem and emotional development are promoted
  • Children have the tools to better manage their emotions and relationships
  • Children with difficulties tend to perform better
  • There is a noticeable flow-on effect in all areas of life (in and out of school)

The MISP benefits children in many settings: Primary schools, special schools, day care centres and pre-schools. It is also suitable for use by community/family groups and in before/after school care groups.

Some comments from teachers:

“We both think that the children start the day more settled after a massage… it’s been the best method of starting the morning.”

“At the end of six weeks the children in this class played better with each other than before and left nobody out.”

“Children who had been isolated before were included.”

Children are more willing to sit next to each other.  They relate better to each other.”

Comments from students:

“It makes you calmer and you can work a lot better.”

“We’re less aggressive outside when we’re playing.”

“When you’re giving the massage it feels like you’re doing something nice for the person.”

“Massage makes me feel special.”

 You can read more about MISP in Australian schools by visiting the MISP in Australia  page.

More information

Visit the frequently asked questions to find out more about this innovative program.