Many parents aren’t aware of the wide range of services their schools’ counselors have to offer. Yes, professional school counselors often provide help for students facing classroom struggles, but their range of assistance goes far beyond that.
School counselors have expertise and skills to benefit just about every student. They’re also a resource to support every parent. A starting point in making the best use of your school’s counselors is to recognize that these are counselors who have completed extensive training to work in schools. All school counselors are certified or licensed by their state and in most states are required to have completed at least a master’s degree or the equivalent.
A school counselor’s training is focused on understanding young people and their educational and developmental needs. A school counselor’s education equips them with the tools and means to help students achieve their academic, personal, social and career goals. Through their work with students, counselors can advise teachers, students and parents about classes offering the appropriate challenges and the best educational outcomes.
School counselor’s work with older students can include information about which classes can best fulfill their educational and career goals, as well as explaining options for colleges, technical training or other directions after high school.
And, as trained professional counselors, school counselors can also assist students facing potential problem areas. From substance abuse to bullying situations to improving study skills, school counselors are there to help students at any grade level, as well as their families, better handle the variety of challenges students face today. Counselors aren’t magicians, but they can offer proven techniques and approaches that can assist in addressing real problems.
Don’t wait for a crisis to talk with your child’s school counselor. An introductory meeting early in the year gives parents a chance to meet the counselor, discuss their child and learn what assistance might be available. Even more important is to contact that counselor quickly when problems first appear. Slipping grades or abrupt changes in a child’s attitude, behavior or friends can all be signs that help is needed. That’s when a professional counselor can make a real difference.
School counselors are professionals who have a great deal to offer children. When parents don’t take advantage of their training, skills and experience, they’re only shortchanging themselves, their children and their children’s educational experience.
Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Send comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.