Home of the Pioneers
What Do Elementary School Counselors Do?
Many parents may not be aware of what elementary school counselors do as lots of us had our first experiences with school counselors during middle school or even high school. Elementary school counselors have a very different job than counselors at other levels. We wear a lot of hats in the school; along with our time spent counseling we also spend time teaching and coordinating school wide programs.
School Counselors are guided the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model as well as a South Carolina Comprehensive Developmental Guidance and Counseling Program Model which provides us with standards to cover much like other educators. In South Carolina, school counselors must have at a minimum a Master's Degree in School Counseling to receive state certification.
School Counselors divide their time between four major areas:
Guidance Curriculum - Providing students at all levels with knowledge of personal, social, academic and career development to promote positive mental health and to assist in the acquisition and application of life skills.
Individual Planning- Helping students plan, monitor and manage their own learning as well as their development in the personal/social and career domains.
Responsive Services - Helping students meet their immediate needs and concerns on an individual basis or through small group counseling.
System Support - Managing and coordinating the guidance program and its activities.
(Source: SC Guidance and Counseling Model)
Small counseling groups take place throughout the school year. These groups consist of anywhere from two to ten students and focus on a particular topic such as friendship skills, school success skills, family changes, social skills, grief and loss, anxiety, study skills and self esteem. Parent permission is always received prior to a student participating in a small group. Groups meet once a week and usually run for 6 to 8 weeks.
All students at OPES come to the Guidance room for a classroom guidance lesson at least one time per month. Classroom guidance lessons are a great way to help our students develop the skills they need to be effective learners at school - we focus on personal/social skills in the younger grades and add career and learning skills information in the upper grades. Here is a brief outline of what kind the guidance curriculum looks like:
4K and Kindergarten - Welcome to School! Focus on learning school success skills such as listening, good manners, getting along with our friends, and managing emotions.
1st Grade - All About Me: learning about our selves and our feelings.
2nd Grade - Relationships: learning conflict resolution skills, understanding diversity and practicing empathy.
3rd Grade - Decision Making: learning about smart choices, considering consequences, using self control and decision making strategies.
4th Grade - Coping: learning to manage problems, coping strategies and resolving conflict with peers.
5th Grade - Movin' On Up (Getting Ready for Middle School): learning about organization habits, study skills, learning styles, career clusters, dealing with rumors/gossip, dealing with differences.