What is a school counselor?

Elementary school years set the tone for developing the knowledge, attitudes and skill necessary for children to become healthy, competent and confident learners. Through a comprehensive developmental school counseling program, school counselors work as a team with the school staff, parents and the community to create a caring climate and atmosphere. By providing education, prevention, early identification and intervention, school counselors can help all children achieve academic success. The elementary school counselor holds a master’s degree and required state certification in school counseling. Maintaining certification includes on-going professional development to stay current with education reform and challenges facing today’s students. Professional association membership enhances the school counselor’s knowledge and effectiveness.


Elementary School Students’ Developmental Needs

The elementary years are a time when students begin to develop their academic self-concept and their feelings of competence and confidence as learners. They are beginning to develop decision-making, communication and life skills, as well as character values. It is also a time when students develop and acquire attitudes toward school, self, peers, social groups and family. Comprehensive developmental school counseling programs provide education, prevention and intervention services, which are integrated into all aspects of children’s lives. Early identification and intervention of children’s academic and social/emotional needs is essential in removing barriers to learning and in promoting academic achievement. The knowledge, attitudes and skills students acquire in the areas of academic, career and social development during these elementary years serve as the foundation for future success.


Meeting the Challenge

Elementary school counselors are professional educators with a mental health perspective who understand and respond to the challenges presented by today’s diverse student population. Elementary school counselors don’t work in isolation; rather they are integral to the total educational program. They provide proactive leadership that engages all stakeholders in the delivery of programs and services to help students achieve school success. School counselors align with the school’s mission to support the academic achievement of all students as they prepare for the ever-changing world of the 21st century. This mission is accomplished through the design, development, implementation and evaluation of a comprehensive, developmental and systematic school counseling program. ASCA’s Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success are the foundation for this work. The ASCA National Model: A Framework For School Counseling Programs (ASCA, 2002), with its data-driven and results-based focus, serves as a guide for today’s school counselor who is uniquely trained to implement this program.


Elementary School Counselors Implement the School Counseling Program by Providing:

School Guidance Curriculum

  • Academic support, including organizational, study and test-taking skills
  • Goal setting and decision-making
  • Career awareness, exploration and planning
  • Education on understanding self and others
  • Peer relationships, coping strategies and effective social skills
  • Communication, problem-solving and conflict resolution
  • Substance abuse education
  • Multicultural/diversity awareness
  • Individual student planning

Academic planning

  • Goal setting/decision-making
  • Education on understanding of self, including strengths and weaknesses
  • Transition plans

Responsive Services

  • Individual and small-group counseling
  • Individual/family/school crisis intervention
  • Conflict resolution
  • Consultation/collaboration
  • Referrals

System Support

  • Professional development
  • Consultation, collaboration and teaming
  • Program management and operation

Elementary School Counselors Collaborate with:

Parents

Parent education

Communication/networking

Academic planning

College/career awareness programs

One-on-one parent conferencing

Interpretation of assessment results

Teachers

Classroom guidance activities

Academic support, including learning style assessment and education to help students succeed academically

Classroom speakers

At-risk student identification and implementation of interventions to enhance success

Administrators

School climate

Behavioral management plans

Schoolwide needs assessments

Student data and results

Student assistance team building

Students

Peer education

Peer support

Academic support

School climate

Leadership development

Community

Job shadowing, service learning

Crisis interventions

Referrals

Parenting classes

Support groups

Career education


**These examples are not intended to be all-inclusive