“The benefits of positive touch activities through the Story Massage Programme have been amazing in our school nurture groups,” says Charlene Craig, a Nurture Teacher at Quarry Brae Primary School in Glasgow. “It is one of the best training days I have ever attended. Story Massage is an invaluable tool, quite literally at your fingertips, that can bring so many benefits for children.”
Charlene has been using the Story Massage Programme for a year now and we asked her some questions about her work.
Which classes are you working with?
I run a core Nurture Group for children from Primaries 1 to 3 (age 5 to 7 years) and weekly sessions with Upper Nurture Groups for Primaries 4 – 7 (age 7 to 11 years). When I first mentioned the Story Massage Programme to the older children they were reluctant to try it but once we started the session, the enjoyment on their faces was priceless!
What are the key benefits in Nurture Groups?
1. Developing positive relationships
A lot of the children in nurture groups have difficulties getting along with others and massage stories help them to see the benefits of being kind and respectful to others. This is invaluable as so many have not enjoyed positive touch or positive relationships in their lives. Pupils are nurturing and caring towards each other in a way they have not been able to express before.
Here is a short video showing how the children work together to share massage stories with respect for each other.
2. Learning co-operation skills
The Story Massage Programme gives children an opportunity to show they care for each other and to work on their co-operation skills which for many children in the room can be very difficult. One example of this was when it was a child’s birthday. The children asked if they could do a special massage story for her. They worked together with very little help.
3. Regulating difficult emotions
One child in Primary 7 now asks for a massage story when he feels he is beginning to escalate and needs to calm down. This is a real break through. What is also so wonderful is that the children are beginning to recognise it can be used to help others when they are feeling sad or need some time to relax.
4. Encouraging expression of feelings
We have found that the Story Massage Programme helps children to express their feelings in a safe and enjoyable way which helps foster a positive trusting bond between children and adults in a very real nurturing context. Pupils know they are cared for, can be listened to and they learn how to access a mindfulness approach through a massage story.
5. Building resilience
Over the past year we have seen how the Story Massage Programme can help children to support each other in a very special way. We notice how they work together to become more self-aware and develop self-growth. This is so important in building the resilience necessary to cope with the many childhood adversities the children are facing on a daily basis.
6. Promoting literacy and creativity
The storytelling element of the activity helps encourage children’s imagination and desire to read and write stories. It is flexible so it can be used to suit the age and needs of the children you are working with. We place great emphasis on language development and communication within the group and Story Massage has a key role to play. The children love creating stories for special events in the year. In addition we continue using massage stories from the Story Massage book.
How do you structure your sessions?
At first we ran weekly Story Massage sessions which helped the children become familiar with the strokes and rules such as saying “Please may I give you a massage?” and “Thank you for letting me give you a massage”. Once they were confident with sharing massage stories then we began using it whenever was appropriate. They children know they can ask for a massage story whenever they like or they feel the need for calming down.
We also ran Story Massage taster sessions for the whole school to celebrate our Nurture Room’s 10th birthday. Each class had the opportunity to come to the hall for a short time and do some Story Massage. This allowed the staff to see the positive benefits of the programme in action!
More about the Story Massage Programme
The Story Massage Programme combines the benefits of positive touch with the creativity of words – whether as story, rhyme or song. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage programme. These strokes have a descriptive name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol making it fully accessible for all ages and abilities.
Story Massage Training
Are you inspired by Charlene’s work in Nurture Groups? If you would like to use the programme at home or work then you will love our flexible online course. All the information is here: Online Training Course.
You will learn how to share the ten Story Massage strokes, adapt familiar stories and even create some sensory stories of your own. Ideal for well-being coaches, therapists, teachers, SEN staff, support staff, Early Years practitioners, those working with people with additional needs, everyone with an interest in sharing positive touch activities with adults or children.