Elementary schools have counselors on staff to provide support and guidance to students. These counselors may work with students individually or in groups to address academic, social, emotional, or behavioral concerns, and may also consult with teachers, parents, and other school staff to ensure that students are receiving the help they need to succeed.
Additionally, school counselors may collaborate with community resources to connect students and families with additional support services if necessary.
20 Common Issues Handled by Elementary School Counselors
Here are 20 common cases that elementary school counselors may handle:
1. Academic concerns
All counselors in academia handle academic concerns as their primary job and elementary school counselors are not left behind. Elementary school counselors may work with students who are struggling with schoolwork or need help developing study skills.
They also guide them on how to read, how to approach exam questions and give special attention to students who are having difficulties.
2. Behavioral issues
The second issue counselors handle at the elementary level is behavioral issues. Counselors may help students who are exhibiting challenging behaviors, such as aggression, defiance, or bullying.
It is not uncommon to see stronger kids suppressing weaker ones and cases of physical and verbal abuse. But counselors can help keep the school healthy.
3. Anxiety and stress
Counselors can also provide support to students who are experiencing anxiety or stress related to school, home, or personal issues. Coping mechanisms like affirmations for anxiety can be broken down for the children to learn and implement.
Students who are stressed can easily be identified by teachers in the class and referred to the counselor for further consideration.
4. Family problems
The aim of the school is to develop students who are built all round but this cannot be possible if their homes continue to tear them apart. Elementary school counselors may assist students who are dealing with family problems such as divorce, separation, or parental conflict.
This can be done by teaching them simple coping mechanisms like talking to someone, praying, and avoiding taking the blame for parents’ conflicts.
Also, the counselor can find ways of entering into the family to see if they can offer any help.
5. Grief and loss
Cases of loss of parents loved ones, and even classmates can occur while pupils are in elementary school. This, if not handled well, can lead to trauma or affect their academic performance.
Counselors may provide support to students who have experienced the death of a family member, friend, or pet.
6. Social skills
Introverts or students that come from homes where social interactions are not so active will find it difficult to make friends in school. Elementary counselors may help students develop social skills, such as communication, empathy, and problem-solving.
The elementary school phase is the period where students pick up perceptions about themselves that crystallize in adolescence. If students are left unaddressed with low self-esteem, it’d be difficult to overcome afterward.
Counselors may work with students who are struggling with low self-esteem or confidence to build their self-esteem.
8. Anger management
Anger management is also another common issue handled by counselors in elementary school. These young children are not well guided on how to vent their displeasure and may just pick up some unhealthy approaches they probably learned from their parents.
Counselors may provide strategies and techniques to help students manage their anger and emotions.
9. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Counselors may work with students who have ADHD to help them manage their symptoms and succeed in school. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 9% of children have ADHD.
Elementary school counselors must train themselves to be able to handle this issue as it will be expected.
10. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Elementary school counselors may also provide support to students with ASD to help them navigate social situations and succeed in school. The WHO reports that 1 in every 100 children has autism.
The counselor will help them with their learning difficulties and life skills and ensure that their Cumulative Records are always up-to-date for medical and transfer purposes.
11. Bullying prevention
Earlier, we covered behavior modification but Counselors must not only focus on remediation. They should seek to prevent deviant behaviors from occurring. Elementary school counselors may work with students, teachers, and the entire school guidance personnel to prevent bullying and create a safe and supportive school environment.
12. Conflict resolution
Offenses are byproducts of human interaction. Conflicts will occur between staff, students, and the school management but it is one of the roles of counselors in schools to mediate.
Elementary school counselors may help students learn how to resolve conflicts in a peaceful and respectful manner.
13. Cultural awareness
Cultural awareness training is another way counselors help elementary schools in building holistic and well-rounded children. Counselors may provide support to students from diverse backgrounds and help promote cultural awareness and acceptance.
14. Substance abuse prevention
Counselors in elementary education may educate students about the risks of substance abuse and provide support to students who may be at risk. This can be done through information services, one of the 7 core guidance services in schools.
Apart from lectures, counselors can help students who are already addicted at a young age to overcome them.
15. Peer pressure
Peer pressure and childhood cannot be separated. This is because at this point in their lives, students think so highly about how their peers perceive them and they want to feel among them. Counselors may help students learn how to resist negative peer pressure and make healthy choices.
16. Goal setting
The success of students in all areas of their lives depends on their ability to set goals, no matter how little they are. Counselors may help students set and achieve academic, personal, and career goals.
Counselors can also help melancholic or ambitious students not beat themselves up, or fall into destructive self-criticism if they don’t achieve their goals.
Counselors may also provide support to students who are experiencing significant life transitions, such as moving or changing schools. A new student in a school will benefit from the assistance of the counselor in adapting to the school environment.
18. Time management
Counselors may help students develop time management skills and strategies to balance schoolwork and other activities.
19. Test anxiety
Counselors may provide strategies to help students cope with test anxiety and perform their best on exams. This is especially important for elementary school students who are new to the academic system.
20. College and career readiness
Although this is intensified and more important at the secondary school level, counselors can start it at a minimal level in elementary school. Counselors may help students explore career options, plan for post-secondary education, and develop little job search skills.
We have considered some of the common cases handled by counselors in elementary education. They cover both the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains of learning.
- 20 Common Cases Handled by Secondary School Counselors
- 20 Common Cases Handled by Counselors in Tertiary Institutions
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, April 6). Data and Statistics about ADHD. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html
- World Health Organization. (2021, August 17). Autism Spectrum Disorders. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/autism-spectrum-disorders
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.