To support the children’s learning, we offer a range of therapeutic practices which are used across school to support the curriculum. Elements of these therapies can be used in Getting Ready for Learning.
Sally Thornley is a Play Therapist. Play is a child’s natural form of self-expression. Play is psychologically beneficial to all children as it assists the release of opioids and oxytocin our ‘feel good’ hormones. The release of these hormones helps children to reduce their own anxiety levels and feel safe and secure. As children often do not have the words to communicate their thoughts and feelings, play therapists are trained to use play as a means of understanding and communicating with them.
Play therapy aims to help children to understand and manage their emotions better. If a child does not feel happy and safe this can act as a barrier to their learning. Play Therapy differs from conventional play, the child is free to choose what to explore and how to do so within safe limits and boundaries. Play Therapy therefore also benefits those children whose play is seen as solitary or repetitive. The ability to play with curiosity provides children with the capacity to engage with learning. If this ability is nurtured, children feel happier and more confident thus enabling them to be more receptive to the teaching and learning that takes place in school.
How Play Therapy can help children in Getting Ready For Learning
For children play is a natural form of communication as often they do not have the words to describe their thoughts, feelings or experiences. Play Therapy helps children who are struggling with social and emotional difficulties to cope with their feelings and emotions in a safe and constructive way. If children do not feel happy and safe this may act as a barrier to their learning. The capacity to play with curiosity and creativity provides children with the capacity to engage with their learning. If this ability is nurtured, the child becomes happier, confident and more fulfilled enabling them to be more receptive to the teaching and learning that takes place in school.
Holistic Therapies have been around for thousands of years and were commonly used in ancient Egypt, China, and India for their therapeutic effects. Holistic means care for the whole person, mind, body and spirit.
MIND – Our mind is our brain. It is also the part of us that thinks, that is logical, the part that works things out through thought.
BODY – Our body is our physical shell.
SPIRIT – Spirit is the hardest to define. It is the part that makes us who we are, the part that expresses our uniqueness and the origination of our feelings.
At Kingfisher we access a range of holistic therapies and adapted approaches in order to supplement and support children’s access to learning. The approaches we use currently are:
- MISP (Massage in Schools Programme)
- Holistic Stories
In having access to these approaches it is hoped that children will develop their own sense of mindfulness enabling them to improve their ability to pay attention, to calm down when they are upset and to make better decisions. It is believed to help children with emotional regulation and cognitive focus.
Yoga and Relaxation
Yoga helps develop Mind, Body and Spirit. Yoga is used to help promote mindfulness and encourages mid-line crossing motions stimulating motor development on both sides of the body. It helps children to focus, concentrate and learn how different postures can stimulate or relax different parts of the body. It improves confidence and self-esteem, flexibility and fitness.
Relaxation encourages children to expand their imagination and creativity and reduces stress and anxiety. It calms and clears the mind, relaxing the body, promoting better sleep.
Touch is the first communication a baby receives.
The first language of its development is through the skin, many children with additional needs may have had limited touch, missing out on this vital part of development, ie: premature or poorly babies.
Massage stimulates all the body systems
- It develops self esteem
- It promotes relaxation and induces feelings of calm
- Bonding, interaction and communication is enhanced
- The child is engaged by touch, eye contact, speech, body movement and facial expression
- The child responds with similar signals which stimulates further response from the adult; over time, this can be reciprocal
- It reduces anxiety
- Circulation is stimulated and the flow of oxygen around the body increases
- Muscle co-ordination is encouraged
Simple hand, arm, leg and foot massage can be used with children at the start or end of a learning session in order to better prepare them for the main learning activity.
At Kingfisher the children also have access to a Soft Play Room and a Multi- sensory Interactive Learning Environment (MILE Room) which support them in a variety of ways according to their needs.
MISP (Massage in Schools Programme)
This is a child-to-child massage programme that has been developed as an inclusive whole school strategy for reducing children’s stress levels, aggression and bullying. The MISP is a well-structured yet simple programme. Techniques are to be demonstrated to staff by the therapist prior to use. This is to ensure staff are aware of correct techniques.
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 with the exception of children with additional needs, where adult modelling is appropriate
- On the back, head, arms and hands
- 10-15 minutes daily
- All children ask permission from each other before they start and say ‘thank you’ to their partner at the end.
Benefits of the Massage in Schools Programme
Studies and observations have shown that:
- Children become calmer and have improved concentration.
- Children have more confidence and increased self esteem
- It teaches children to respect others and leads to social inclusion
- There is a reduction in bullying and aggression
- Emotional health improves
- It helps children recognise ‘good’ and ‘bad’ touch
- Children show improved motor skills
- It encourages visualisation and kinaesthetic learning
- Children are encouraged to make choices
- Cooperation improves as children work in pairs and in groups
- There is a calmer classroom environment. The teacher benefits from all these aspects
- Massage is fun
“Aromatherapy is a caring, hands on therapy which seeks to induce relaxation, increase energy, to reduce the effects of stress and to restore lost balance to mind, body and spirit” Robert Tisserand.
Aromatherapy is a natural and non-invasive approach which can stimulate or relax. At Kingfisher aromatherapy (essential oils) are used in conjunction with massage in a base cream, lotion or oil and are blended by a qualified therapist. Aromatherapy is also used via diffusers in the atmosphere in order to stimulate or relax.
How Holistic Therapies can help children in Getting Ready For Learning
To support the children in Getting Ready For Learning, the Holistic Therapies can be implemented in consultation with the Holistic Therapist who will assess each child’s needs and work with the class team to provide the most suitable approach to overcoming barriers which may prevent their learning.