The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and the Pennsylvania School Counseling Association (PSCA) affirm that school counseling is an integral part of the educational experience for students. The School District of Haverford Township has offered a comprehensive school counseling program in its five elementary schools since 1989. Each elementary school has at a least one full-time school counselor, and a wide range of services are offered to support students’ mental health as well as their academic achievement, career awareness, and social/emotional development.
School Counseling Curriculum:
Haverford’s elementary counselors teach a social-emotional learning curriculum through bi-weekly classroom lessons to all students in grades one through five, and as scheduled for kindergarten. The curriculum is developmental, child-centered, and focused on the five interrelated sets of cognitive, affective, and behavior competencies: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Because the elementary counselors teach students in their classrooms every other week, they are able to get to know every student as a learner, observe how students interact with their peers, and regularly interact with all students throughout the elementary school years. Additionally, the counseling curriculum allows for a preventative approach, teaching developmentally appropriate skills to all students, rather than merely providing intervention.
The lessons focus on:
- Identifying, expressing, and managing emotions
- Developing positive self-talk, a growth mindset, and optimism
- Accepting and appreciating all differences in others
- Developing empathy for others
- Coping with with anxiety and stress
- Impulse control and anger management
- Social Skills
- Conflict Resolution
- Assertiveness and Personal Safety
- Teasing and Bullying Prevention and Response
- Career Development
Elementary school counselors provide individual school counseling for students who may need additional support with skills that are developmental and impact school behavior. The counseling strategies vary with each student’s needs and are provided on a short-term basis (usually six to eight weekly sessions) as determined by the school counselor. Students can refer themselves to the counselor or can be referred by parents, teachers, or other school staff. Group counseling may be offered, depending on the needs of children at a particular grade level.
Consultation and Collaboration:
School counselors work with teachers, administrators and other school staff to provide information, materials, and referral assistance; advocate for students, especially within the Child Study, 504, and IEP teams; serve as case managers for 504 Accommodation Plans; and promote a safe, welcoming, and positive school climate for all students. Together with the district’s social workers, school counselors assist families in obtaining services through referrals to outside agencies.
School counselors work with parents and guardians to exchange and gather information, provide recommendations, make referrals for private therapy, serve as a resource for mental health concerns, and to discuss parenting strategies. With parent/guardian consent, school counselors also consult with other mental health professionals.
“Today's school counselors are vital members of the education team. They help all students in the areas of academic achievement, career and social/emotional development, ensuring today's students become the productive, well-adjusted adults of tomorrow.” American School Counselor Association