What is MISP?
The Massage In Schools Programme or MISP, was the very first programme designed to implement massage and touch activities for children from 4-12 years of age. It was primarily designed to meet schools' requests of reducing bullying and violence between children, and has proven highly successful since 2000, with studies showing the positive impact on concentration and improved behaviour. It has also been brought to families and other children's centres.
The programme is an easy, quick and effective tool for improving children’s quality of life with interactive nurturing touch. It is inclusive of all children and non-competitive. Children with additional needs can also practise the MISP to the level of their capacities.
All MISP activities are performed between children, they give and receive a massage one to another, and all activities are carried out over clothes, with children asking permission and having the right to say "no" and just watch. Adults do not touch the children within any MISP activities. The programme can be implemented in schools, as well as at home within families. It is also taught in community centres, sports centres and Summer camps.
There are two aspects to the MISP programme. The first one is the basic routine of the massage strokes, which is the same all over the world and is always done in the same order, thus providing a sense of security to the children. The entire routine only takes 10-15 minutes once mastered by the children.
The second aspect of the programme brings the idea of adding touch and movement to all school curriculum subjects. Children learn through their bodies, and by incorporating touch and movement with teaching methodologies, children with different forms of intelligences have enhanced opportunities for learning.
Both aspects are grounded on the notion of respect for oneself and for others.
Being practised today in some 50 countries around the world, the MISP also forges international connections between children of all cultures.
What distinguishes the MISP programme from other programmes implemented in schools?
While we see value in several other approaches brought in schools for the well-being of children (such as yoga in schools, brain gym, mindfulness, etc.), one aspect that makes the MISP distinctive and probably unique is the fact that it is socially interactive and relational. The social aspect of the MISP brings children to become aware not only of themselves, but also of the other. These are core relational skills that contribute to developing empathy, a fundamental skill for living socially, a skill that is said by specialists to now be diminishing at alarming rates. Some of the identified causes for this phenomenon, and several other challenges experienced by children, include children:
- having less and less time from free social play,
- being subjected to screens,
- being over protected by the parents,
- having too many of their requests answered,
- being asked to act like adults,
- using their imagination less and less,
- being deprived of appropriate authority,
- being subjected to national curricula that value only certain types of children, leaving many children feeling incompetent,
- lacking rhythm in their daily life, and lacking movement.
The MISP has been carefully designed to bring the children to interact socially, in a simple and repetitive way, fostering their relationship with life and with others. The MISP is inclusive and based on the fact that all children are capable of participating. All MISP activities proposed within the programme bring the children together, and are non-competitive. The MISP emphasises the principle that children learn better with touch and movement. These are some of the reasons why hundreds of instructors have experienced “miracle stories” with the MISP. It simply does the work of love, the core aspect of our very humanity. When a child feels loved, then learning becomes far more possible, having friends become possible, and this is the living antidote to bullying and violence.
The MISP holds respect for human dignity as a core value in the way the programme is designed and delivered, and it makes a major contribution to children becoming fully human, both with oneself and with others.