Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Counselor Appreciation Week

In celebration of Counselor Appreciation Week, I would like to help others gain a greater understanding of a school counselor's role.  Many people are curious about the school counselor's position,  and while each day is diferent, I want to give you an overview of my comprehensive elementary counseling program at Lee Elementary and the services that I offer to both our students and families.

How Do Elementary School Counselor's Help?

My main role is to help each student by serving as a child advocate.  It is during elementary school, when students begin to develop their academic self-concept and their feelings of competence and confidence as learners.  Children at this age are beginning to develop a sense of self and confidence in their abilities.  They are also building decision-making, communication and life skills, as well as acquiring attitudes toward school, work habits, peers, social groups and family.  These different aspects of a child's life begin to develop in the elementary years and serve as the foundation for future success in adulthood.

My goal is to foster this growth by creating and implementing a comprehensive developmental school counseling program which enhances the knowledge, attitudes and skills that your child acquires in the areas of academic, personal, social, and career development.  I offer several services to our students and families in order to reach these various developmental milestones.  I also aid with schoolwide initiatives to foster a sense of school community. 

Are Elementary Counselors in the Classroom?

YES!  I visit each classroom in our school, K-6, every other week.  Throughout the school year I present classroom lessons focusing on some of the following developmental issues: initiating and maintaining friendships, appreciating/celebrating diversity, stress management strategies, conflict resolution strategies, enhancing self-confidence and self-awareness, expressing feelings, empathy development, goal setting, and any other needs that students/teachers have.  Through developmental lessons, students being to comprehend and attain coping, social, problem-solving, and conlict resolution skills.

What Topics/Issues do Elementary Counselors See in Counseling?

I am present for each student in every single classroom and I'm also available to students in a more private setting.  I work with students in individual counseling or in small group counseling.  Individual concerns regarding home, school, or peer issues, may be discussed with the school counselor.  Common topics include: peer issues/conflict, worries, time-management, grief, family changes, transitions, and social skills.  I also offer groups on friendship skills, social skills, grief & loss, etc.  Counseling groups vary and are conducted according to my students needs.

How Can a Child See the Counselor?

I teach students how to self-refer at the start of each school year.  Students often refer themselves to me by completing a form in their classroom or by speaking with me or their teacher.  A concerned parent, peer, or teacher may also refer a student to me if they have a specific concern.  I often meet with students during lunch or recess to not interrupt their academics.  Your child is not in trouble when they come to visit with me, they often enjoy signing up for an informal sharing session.

Do Counselors Work With Families?

One of the most important roles of a school counselor is collaboration.  I believe strongly in working cooperatively with all the key players in our students' lives, specifically, parents and school staff.  I pride myself on the relationships that I develop with both students and their families.  I am available to meet with parents as needed, and I'm often invited to participate in parent/teacher conferences, eCST meetings, 504 meetings, and ARD meetings.  I am also available to meet with you privately regarding any parental concerns.

Additionally, I'm available to you as a resource.  I understand that parents need information and support with the challenging job of raising children.  Therefore, I try to provide our families with information on topics that are pertinent to what they may be experiencing with their child.  I do this via this blog and letters I send home schoolwide.

I encourage you to call me with any questions or concerns you may have and I hope that you have found this information helpful in understanding my role at school.

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