Emotions at the End of the School Year

The end of the school year can bring mixed emotions for many pupils. These feelings are expressed in a positive and affirming Story Massage written by pupils and staff at our latest Story Massage Centre of Excellence – The Early Focus Project and St James Primary School, Dublin 8. We hope you will find it helpful.

Benefits of Story Massage

Story Massage has become part of regular activities at the Early Focus Project and St James Primary School following an in-house training day. “The children respond very well to Story Massage,” says Heidi Mahon, Class Teacher (above left), “They find it very relaxing and calming. We use it every day to help them settle for more quiet and concentrated work. It also teaches the children about kind hands – they ask each other if they want a massage when they are playing in the yard.”

The Early Focus and St James Primary School recently won first place as the top Primary School in Ireland for promoting and supporting Mental Health in the Mission Possible: School Achievement Awards. “Story Massage is among the therapies that we provide to help develop a holistic approach to promoting positive mental health to pupils, teachers and parents,” says Una Curran (above, middle in back row) from the Early Focus Project,  “We use it in many ways as it is so helpful for relaxation and also for expressing and exploring difficult feelings such as those at the end of the school year. It helps children to feel safe and secure within themselves.”

The beautiful massage story below shows the caring and supportive nature of the whole team at the Early Focus Project and St James Primary School as they help children make the transition to a new class or school.

End of School Year Story Massage

We are all part of the family of St. James School. (Circle)

We enjoy growing and learning together with our friends and our class. (Fan)

Soon we will come to the end of the school year and change to a new class/school. (Wave)

When we walk into a new class/school we might feel worried, nervous or a mix of emotions. (Walk)

But changes can bring us lots of new adventures with our friends in school. (Bounce)

We have to remember how our caterpillars grow and change and go into their chrysalis. (Fan)

But they change and emerge into beautiful butterflies and fly in our garden. (Sprinkle)

We will all grow and change together with our friends (Circle)

as we look forward to new, exciting experiences…. (Calm)

Two pupils demonstrate the End of School Year Story Massage.

More about Story Massage

Story Massage combines the benefits of positive, respectful touch with the creativity and engagement of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage programme. These strokes have a child friendly name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it accessible for all. It is a fully inclusive activity, no clothing is removed and no oil is used.

Would you like to train in Story Massage?

Are you inspired by the way that staff at the Early Focus Project and St James Primary School are using Story Massage to promote positive mental health?  Would you like to train to use Story Massage in your work or home? We run one day accredited training courses that is held around the country for individuals and groups. These days can also be organised as in-house training sessions. We teach you how to share the ten Story Massage strokes and work with you to adapt familiar stories and even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for teachers, SEN staff, support staff, therapists, Early Years practitioners,  those working with people with additional needs, Baby Massage Instructors, Relax Kids Coaches… everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children. All the information is here: Story Massage Training

Story Massage for Babies and Children

Story Massage for babies is proving very popular with parents. Natasha Hamlet from Mini Me Jamboree recently won our Story Massage Best Practice Award for her work with parents and child groups in Leeds. She finds that adding the sensory element of Story Massage makes parents, babies and children feel calm and relaxed.

Story Massage for Babies

Natasha has been using Story Massage with her second baby since she was born. “I hold her in a cuddling position on my chest and use one hand to do the Story Massage strokes while singing her traditional songs and lullabies,” she says, “You Are My Sunshine is a favourite. It really calms her down and is a lovely bonding experience.”
Natasha, who is one of the first to run Story Massage sessions in Leeds, now teaches this technique to parents attending her Story Massage workshops at Sensory Space Leeds. “Mummies and babies absolutely love it, and the holding position works really well for little ones who don’t want to sit still for a massage,” says Natasha.
“Mind you, some babies are quite happy to lie still and really enjoy gentle Story Massage strokes all over their body!” she adds.

Sensory Story Massage Workshops

Natasha runs monthly themed Story Massage workshops at Sensory Space Leeds for parents and babies and toddlers under 24 months with sensory stories, songs and rhymes. The sessions run for 30 minutes with a maximum of 10 parents. Natasha also runs groups for pre-schoolers and private sessions for parents of children aged 0-5. 
“We keep it fun and friendly, with no pressure on anyone,” says Natasha, ” I introduce them to the idea of Story Massage for babies and children. We practise some strokes, then work with stories and sensory play equipment on the theme of the day such as animals, colours or seasons. I always give them some books that are suitable for Story Massage so they can practice at home.”
Natasha is planning a Summertime Special Session with themed stories, songs and massage stories related sunshine, seaside, holidays, beaches, water, sea animals, and activities we do during summer time. “On August Bank holiday 2017 we will be celebrating 50 years of the Leeds West Indian Carnival, so I may make this my August theme,” says Natasha, “September is all about new beginnings, October is Halloween/autumn, November is bonfire and the festival of lights and December is Christmas/snowy weather. Story Massage works so perfectly.”

Story Massage at Home

The main reason for sharing Story Massage with other parents is that Natasha has found it so beneficial at home, not only with her baby but also with her 4 year old son.
“He asks for Story Massage every single night since I did the training course to help him sleep. He loves it,” says Natasha, “Sometimes we work with one of his favourite bedtime story books. Or we make up our own stories to encourage his creativity and imagination.  He loves practising his techniques on me and often makes up his own stories on the spot. It is a special time for us.”

More about Story Massage

Story Massage combines the benefits of positive touch with the creativity of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage programme. These strokes have a child friendly name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it accessible for all. It is a fully inclusive activity, no clothing is removed and no oil is used. You can find out more about Story Massage from our book: Once upon a touch…story massage for children

Would you like to train in Story Massage?

Are you inspired by the way that Natasha is using Story Massage for babies and children?  Would you like to train to use Story Massage in your work or home? We run a popular one day FHT accredited training course that is held around the country for individuals and groups. On these days we teach you how to share the ten Story Massage strokes and work with you to adapt familiar stories and even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for therapists, Early Years practitioners, teachers, those working with people with additional needs, Baby Massage Instructors, Relax Kids Coaches… everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children. We also offer in-house training options. All the information is here: Story Massage Training

Preparing Children for Transition to a New School

Are you involved in transition planning at the moment? It can be a difficult time, especially for children with additional needs. Story Massage adds an extra dimension to social stories by bringing the words alive and encouraging children to fully engage with the narrative.

We recently ran a training day with the Chichester Downs Syndrome Support Group and everyone welcomed Story Massage as a fun and interactive way of helping prepare for transition. Here is a massage story written by Amber and Jess (pictured above) for their children who are both about to start a new school. The story can be easily adapted to make it personal for your child or children.

Story Massage for Transition

You are all dressed and ready for school. Pick up your bags. Let’s go! (Fan)

We walk to school and through the gate. (Walk)

Say Hello to Miss Holden and your friends. Wave goodbye to Mummy. (Circle)

Mummy will be back at the end of the day to give you a hug. (Squeeze)

Into the classroom and find a peg for your bag. Sit with your friends on the carpet. (Fan)

Wait for your name … Lucas. “ I’m here,” you’ll say. (Calm)

Mummy will be back at the end of the day to give you a hug. (Squeeze)

Now it’s time to play and learn. Phonics, counting and music too. (Bounce)

Ready for lunch, stand in line. Sit and eat nicely with your friends. (Wave)

Run in the playground, ride a bike, kick a ball. (Drum)

Mummy will be back at the end of the day to give you a hug. (Squeeze)

Water, sand, painting too. All your favourite things to do. (Sprinkle)

It’s 3 ‘o’ clock, time to go home. Say Goodbye to everyone, you’ll see them again tomorrow. (Calm)

Mummy is here for a great big hug. (Squeeze)

More about Story Massage

Story Massage combines the benefits of positive touch with the creativity of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage programme. These strokes have a child friendly name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it accessible for all. It is a fully inclusive activity, no clothing is removed and no oil is used.

Would you like to train in Story Massage?

Would you like to train to use Story Massage in your work or home? We run a popular one day FHT accredited training course that is held around the country for individuals and groups. On these days we teach you how to share the ten Story Massage strokes and work with you to adapt familiar stories and even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for therapists, Early Years practitioners, teachers, those working with people with additional needs, Relax Kids coaches… everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children. We also offer in-house training options. All the information is here: Story Massage Training

More ideas for transition planning

You can read more massage stories written to help children with started a new school here: Transition Planning for Children with Autism and Back to School with Story Massage. We hope you find these useful.

Story Massage for Children with Autism – Ten Key Benefits

We have been so delighted to hear feedback about the many benefits of Story Massage for children with autism. Benefits include relaxation, touch tolerance, emotional regulation, increased concentration, better sleep and social connection. Here is a collection of some of the amazing ways that Story Massage is helping children on the autistic spectrum.

Ten Key Benefits of Story Massage for Children with Autism

Communication Skills. Story Massage strokes can be adapted to meet the needs of individual children and can be given sitting, standing or lying down. For Lisa Lawrence, Sensory Leader at Ysgol Y Deri, giving Story Massage as a face to face activity can bring the most benefits for some children who find communication difficult. “We find that using the combination of words and massage strokes helps the children to relax and you begin to gain eye contact and develop communication skills,” says Lisa, “We encourage the children to vocalise or use body language and smiles to show which different massage techniques they like the best.”

Vocabulary and Expressive Language.  At Kiladangan National School in Tipperary, Story Massage was introduced by Holistic Therapist, Melanie Kelly and is now part the Literacy Curriculum for children with autism.”Within a few months of regular weekly Story Massage sessions we have seen a marked improvement in expressive language and vocabulary,” says Avril Mounsey, Class Teacher, ” Story Massage literally bring words to life for our pupils and makes learning a more enriching and beneficial experience for everyone. Our pupils now have the ability to distinguish between verbs, nouns and adjectives, and this is a real achievement. I think that Story Massage makes it easier for them to attach a visual image to each word and therefore easier to store and retrieve these words.”

Improved Concentration.  Story Massage can provide a fun way of encouraging concentration and on-task behaviour. “This term I have incorporated Story Massage into my daily literacy session for young children with autism,” says Cesci Aromas White, Senior Leader in ASD at St Joseph’s School in Surrey, ” The positive impact on concentration and engagement has been incredible.  One young boy has always really struggled with story time but he has started asking for ‘more’ since I introduced Story Massage! It is wonderful to see how much it has helped the children learn to concentrate and focus their attention.”

Readiness for Learning. Going back to class after lunchtime play can be difficult for many children, especially those with autism. At Woodbank Special School in Halifax, Story Massage is now being used to help children relax and regulate their emotions so they are ready for learning. “We began using Story Massage on one young boy who found it really hard to regulate and calm himself after lunchtime play,” says Tracy Greenwood, Specialist Teaching Assistant, “After only one session, he was much calmer and willing to go back into the class. I chose a familiar story and used deep pressure moves which we know can help him regulate. He was fully engaged for 20 minutes and stayed relaxed when the session was over. At one point, he gave fleeting eye contact and even snuggled into my neck which was a real ‘wow’ moment as he does not usually like being so close to anyone.”

Reduced Anxiety. Autistic children can experience a high base level of anxiety every day. And unexpected events can escalate their anxiety so that it becomes overwhelming and may lead to challenging behaviour.  “An example was the impact of the recent terrorist attacks in the UK on our pupils,” says Karen Horner,  Specialist Autistic Practitioner at a nurture unit in a school in Northumberland, “One young boy, in particular, was extremely anxious and frightened about going out. I wrote a Story Massage to help him understand that whilst bad things happen, there are many people who love him and keep the world a safe and happy place for him. It really helped to calm him down, and he kept asking for Story Massage because it felt safe. Story Massage helps release ‘feel good’ hormones in brain acting with the parasympathetic system and this helps calm the nervous system.”

Social Interaction. Many children with autism tend to work individually and can be averse to giving and receiving touch. Story Massage was introduced to a group of 14 autistic children, both girls and boys, at Orchard Primary School in Wisham to see if to see if it would encourage social interaction through peer massage – and it did. “Within four weeks of sessions, twice a week, the children were working on each other,” says Audrey Clemenson, teacher in the LCSC (Language and Communication Support Centre). “Before the children can work or play together, they need to be able to relate to one another first. I’ve been teaching relating skill with my class and Story Massage fits into this beautifully. We began by encouraging them to do the Story Massage strokes on themselves, and then we introduced favourite stories. We are so thrilled to see how they massaging each other in pairs and we hope this social interaction will extend to other areas of their lives. It is a big step for our pupils.”

Preparation for Change.  Children can find it challenging to cope with any change – and starting a new class away from home and familiar surrounding can be particularly difficult. Staff at The Snowflake Centre, based in New Bridge Nursery School in Reading, use Story Massage for children with autism to prepare them for mainstream nursery and mainstream school. But it is not just about preparing for transition to a new school or class. Social stories combined with the ten basic Story Massage strokes are now widely used to prepare children for any change to their usual routine and help them make sense of the world around them.

Addressing Challenging Behaviour through Distraction.  The combination of story and massage techniques can be very effective in coping with challenging behaviour, says Katrina Payne, a Sensory Therapist working with a range of clients with additional needs.”Story Massage offers the distraction of creativity and use of the child’s imagination, ” One example of this is where a child initially only wanted ‘scratching’ on his skin, so by incorporating a bit of ‘scratching’ using the Claw stokes on his forearms during a story, I was able to introduce other strokes to add to the sensory experience of touch. He became more relaxed and willing to wait for longer periods for ‘scratching’ to occur, until the story itself and its positive touch experience replaced the need to be so obsessive about the scratching sensation. He was then able to move on to enjoy therapeutic massage which gave him a relaxation activity he wasn’t able to access previously. It was introducing the Story Massage that made all the difference.”

Touch Tolerance.  Touch aversion can be a real issue for parents and those working with children with autism and sensory processing disorders. “Story Massage is an alternative idea for children to get used to positive touch,” says Helen Edgar, Special Needs Teacher at a school in Birmingham, “We find that some children prefer and tolerate some strokes more than others, so we adjust the activity to suit children’s individual needs. We use familiar stories that we repeat on a regular basis so the children can begin to anticipate events in the story and the different strokes. Gradually children begin to relax and enjoy the session. It is a wonderful way of introducing children to the pleasure of positive touch and developing relationships and trust.”

Better Sleep. At Westfield Special School in Leominster, Story Massage is now a regular part of the daily routine as it had made such a positive difference to the children. Nicky Morris, Class Teacher in Hedgehog Class, says that helping one boy to sleep at night has made such a huge difference to the whole family that she would list improved sleep as a key benefit. Nicky Morris runs regular Story Massage sessions in class and encourages parents to continue at home. “This particular boy was having real problems with sleep, but with a regular massage story at bedtime from his parents, he is more relaxed and is now sleeping through the night,” says Nicky.

More about Story Massage

Story Massage combines the benefits of positive touch with the creativity of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage programme. These strokes have a child friendly name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it fully accessible for all ages and abilities.

Would you like to train in Story Massage?

Are you inspired by the benefits of Story Massage for children with autism?  Would you like to train to use Story Massage in your work or home? We run a popular one day accredited training course that is held around the country for individuals and groups. On these days we teach you how to share the ten Story Massage strokes and work with you to adapt familiar stories and even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for therapists, Early Years practitioners, teachers, those working with people with additional needs, Relax Kids coaches… everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children. We also offer in-house training options. All the information is here: Story Massage Training

Best Practice Award Winners – June 2017

We’re delighted to announce our Story Massage Centre of Excellence and Best Practice Award Winners for June 2017. How wonderful to have such a selection of winners using Story Massage in so many different ways in the home, school and wider community. Many congratulations.

Centre of Excellence Award

The Early Focus Project and St James Primary School in Dublin.  The school has 9 members of staff trained in Story Massage and has just been recognised as the top Primary School in Ireland for promoting and supporting Mental Health.

Best Practice Awards

Vikki German, Play and Activities Coordinator at Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospice in London.

Tracy Greenwood – Specialist Teaching Assistant, responsible for sensory needs, at Wood Bank Special in Halifax.

Natasha Hamlet – Owner of Mini Me Jamboree in Leeds – running sensory story sessions for parents and children.

Karen Horner – Specialist Autistic Practitioner at a nurture unit in a school in Northumberland. Karen is also a Relax Kids Coach.

Sue Ip – Massage Therapist at Linden Lodge School in London. The school is for visually impaired pupils and those with PMLD.

Melanie Kelly – Complementary Therapist from Ireland specialising in working with babies and children. Melanie also uses Story Massage with children with autism in schools.

Louise Molineux – Senior Day Service Officer working with adults with complex needs at a day service run by Staffordshire County Council.

Nikki Millward – Day Service Assistant, working alongside Louise at a day service for adults with complex needs in South Staffordshire.

Jennifer Monteith – Teacher at Thorntree Primary School in Glasgow. Jennifer uses Story Massage with nurture groups and runs a Story Massage Club.

Barbara Moore – Massage Therapist working with children with sensory impairments and complex health needs in Cambridgeshire. Barbara also works with families and carers.

Kath Routledge – a Relax Kids Coach who also uses Story Massage on a regular basis with Rainbow and Brownies, and her own children at home.

Would you like to enter our Best Practice Awards?

The closing date for our next entries is 1st December 2017. You can enter your organisation as a Story Massage Centre of Excellence. Or nominate yourself or someone you know for a Story Massage Best Practice Award. All the information is here: Story Massage Best Practice Awards. 

 

Helping Children Cope with Bereavement

Story Massage is now a beneficial part of a bedtime routine for a 7 year old who was finding it hard to sleep after the death of a much-loved grandmother. “Story Massage has really helped her cope with bereavement,” says her mother, Kath Routledge, who has recently won our Best Practice Award for her work with Story Massage.

Kath’s Story Massage for Bereavement

“My daughter has been finding things tough when thinking about her granny, especially at bedtime,” says Kath, a Relax Kids Coach, pictured above with her children, “So we do our Missing Granny Story Massage every night now – and sometimes in the day too! It’s a real comfort for her, and I’ve found it has helped her settle. At times in the past she has been inconsolable, but since writing and sharing this massage story, things are a lot easier for her. And if she does wake in the night, a short Story Massage helps her get back to sleep quite quickly now.”

Story Massage with Kath

Kath (pictured below enjoying a Story Massage training day) uses Story Massage with her children at home whenever the time feels right – at bedtime or in the day. “I love that we don’t have to follow a script” says Kath, “I make something up linked to what’s bothering them at that time – and it is always so relaxing and calming for them.  I’ve found I’ve become very creative in my story telling now.”

Kath uses Story Massage as part of her Relax Kids classes and also runs Story Massage sessions. You can find out all about her on her website: Relax with Kath

More about Story Massage

Story Massage combines the benefits of positive touch with the creativity of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage programme. These strokes have a child friendly name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it fully accessible for all ages and abilities.

Would you like to train in Story Massage?

Are you inspired by the way that Kath has used Story Massage to help her daughter cope with bereavement? Would you like to train to use Story Massage in your work or home? We run a popular one day accredited training course that is held around the country for individuals and groups. On these days we teach you how to share the ten Story Massage strokes and work with you to adapt familiar stories and even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for therapists, Early Years practitioners, teachers, those working with people with additional needs, Relax Kids coaches… everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children. We also offer in-house training options. All the information is here: Story Massage Training

Story Massage Training in Birmingham

Discover the powerful combination of storytelling with simple massage techniques on this accredited training day in Birmingham on 27th June 2017. Open to everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities and peer massage with children and adults. For all the dates and venues please visit Story Massage Training Dates and Venues.  Continue reading

Our Manchester – Story Massage in the aftermath of tragedy

For one teacher from a school in Manchester, Story Massage proved helpful in coping with the devastating news on Monday 22nd May 2017 where so many young people tragically lost their lives in the bomb attack.

Jo Heald, photographed above with her Best Practice Award, is Well-Being Co-ordinator at Bower Vale Primary School in Manchester. She has written a massage story that focuses on love, hope and strength. “After such tragedy, I felt inspired to write a massage about our school community and the wider community,” she says, “I hope it will help children to talk about their feelings and reach out to each other. There is such an outpouring of love and warmth by everyone in Manchester.”

Our Manchester   (The Calm)

Our Manchester is standing proud   (The Fan)

The city unites in love and warmth   (The Circle)

We are strong           (The Claw)

Our Manchester       (The Calm)

 

This is our school in our Manchester     (The Walk)

Our colourful community                   (The Sprinkle)

Of warmth and love                    (The Circle)

We stand proud and strong       (The Squeeze)

Together we are linked by who we are … (The Wave)

Manchester people with hearts of gold.   (The Circle)

Our Manchester!!   (The Calm)

More about Story Massage

Story Massage combines the benefits of positive touch with the creativity of storytelling. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage programme. These strokes have a child friendly name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it fully accessible for all ages and abilities.

Would you like to train in Story Massage?

Are you inspired by the way that Jo Heald is making such a difference to children’s lives? Would you like to train to use Story Massage in your work or home? We run a popular one day FHT accredited training course that is held around the country for individuals and groups. On these days we teach you how to share the ten Story Massage strokes and work with you to adapt familiar stories and even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for therapists, Early Years practitioners, teachers, those working with people with additional needs, Relax Kids coaches… everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children. We also offer in-house training options. All the information is here: Story Massage Training

Story Massage Training Dates – 2017

Here are our current Story Massage training dates in 2017. Accredited training days are open to everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with children and adults of all ages and abilities.  Continue reading

Story Massage and the Literacy Curriculum

Story Massage is now part of the Literacy Curriculum in two Autism Classrooms a school in Tipperary, Ireland. Within a few months of weekly sessions run by Melanie Kelly, Story Massage Instructor, the class teacher noticed a marked improvement in expressive language used by the pupils. Continue reading