Career Profile: Elementary School Counselor
Elementary school counselors observe children during classroom and play activities and confer with their teachers and parents to evaluate the children’s strengths, problems, or special needs. In conjunction with teachers and administrators, they make sure that the curriculum addresses both the academic and the developmental needs of students. Elementary school counselors do less vocational and academic counseling than high school counselors.
School counselors at all levels help students to understand and deal with social, behavioral, and personal problems. These counselors emphasize preventive and developmental counseling to provide students with the life skills needed to deal with problems before they worsen and to enhance students’ personal, social, and academic growth. Counselors provide special services, including alcohol and drug prevention programs and conflict resolution classes. They also try to identify cases of domestic abuse and other family problems that can affect a student’s development.
Counselors interact with students individually, in small groups, or as an entire class. They consult and collaborate with parents, teachers, school administrators, school psychologists, medical professionals, and social workers to develop and implement strategies to help students succeed.
Articles for Counselors
A Guide to Creating Key Partnerships with Parents
How to Approach Behavior Problems in Class
4 Ways to Work with Difficult Students
How To: Deal with an Oppositional and Defiant Student
Managing Violent & Explosive Behavior in Young Children
Special Education: An Introduction for New Educators
Establishing an Atmosphere of Acceptance
Being an educator requires a great deal of dedication, motivation and knowledge. When figuring out if becoming a school counselor is right for you, ask and answer the following questions:
• Do you like people?
• Can you be calm in any situation?
• Are you fair?
• Can you see situations from different views?
• Are you confident about sharing your knowledge? • Can you manage time effectively and with flexibility?
All States require school counselors to hold a state school counseling certification and to have completed at least some graduate course work; most require the completion of a masters degree. Some states require public school counselors to have both counseling and teaching certificates and to have had some teaching experience before receiving certification. For counselors based outside of schools, 48 States and the District of Columbia have some form of counselor licensure that governs their practice of counseling. Requirements typically include the completion of a master’s degree in counseling, the accumulation of 2 years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience beyond the masters degree level, the passage of a state-recognized exam, adherence to ethical codes and standards, and the completion of annual continuing education requirements.
Counselors must be aware of educational and training requirements that are often very detailed and that vary by area and by counseling specialty. Prospective counselors should check with state and local governments, employers, and national voluntary certification organizations in order to determine which requirements apply.