Cathy Birden
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What do elementary school counselors do?
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  • Teach classroom guidance lessons 
  •  Facilitate short-term small group counseling 
  •  Provide immediate and short-term individual counseling 
  •  Work collaboratively with teachers and staff 
  •  Consult with parents 
  •  Provide information and/or referrals for community resources to families
Why do we need elementary school counselors?
  • A deliberate and comprehensive approach to teaching children social and emotional skills can raise their grades and test scores, increase enthusiasm for learning, reduce behavior problems, and enhance cognitive functioning. 
  •  Students who receive social skills instruction do better academically and socially but the reverse is not true (academic instruction does not increase social/emotional skills). 
  •  There is a strong connection between emotions and learning. Students who can recognize and manage strong emotions are better learners. 
  •  Students who attend schools with a comprehensive guidance program do significantly better on standardized tests than students who attend schools without a comprehensive guidance program.  
  • 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.
(American School Counselor Association)
Guidance Lessons
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Guidance lessons are an integral part of the elementary school counseling program and important to every students' academic success. One of the most effective ways for school counselors to help prevent academic problems is by discussing self-esteem issues such as peer relationships, stress, or dealing with feelings and emotions in large group guidance lessons in the classroom. The lessons are preventative in nature, designed to reach all students, and are taught in the classroom regularly by the counselor.
Small Group Counseling
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The purpose of small group counseling is to complement and enhance students' learning by improving their perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors. Small group counseling provides a safe setting where children, along with their peers, can increase their self awareness and improve their cooperation and communication skills. The children can learn from each other. Ultimately the goal of small group counseling is to prevent problems in the future by teaching children new skills. Every child can benefit from participation in a small group. Students can invited to join a group by parent request, teacher or counselor suggestion, or by the students themselves. Students must have parent permission to participate in a small groups. Letters describing what the group process is all about, with a permission slip enclosed, are sent to parents. Students must return the permission form before they can participate in a small group.
Individual Counseling
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Elementary school counselors are available to meet individually with a student in circumstances when a student's educational success is being impacted. The school counselor spends time working with individual students to improve their social skills, discuss feelings, and to empower problem solving methods. Elementary school counselors assist ALL children. While a counselor cannot provide on-going counseling, it may be appropriate for a student to receive short-term individual counseling. When more attention and intervention is required, school counselors can act as a referral agent for parents to access counseling services within the community.
Community Resources
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School counselors can provide short-term individual counseling for students, but when more intervention is required, they can coordinate referrals to community agencies. Please click on the Parent Resources link to download a Resource Directory for Harris County.