A Look at the Positive Impacts of School Counselor Programs

Mar 16, 2021 by

What Does it Mean to be a School Counselor? | Morgridge College of  EducationMorgridge College of Education

Children have a range of needs at school; academic learning is just one of them. Many children have unstable home situations, may not get enough to eat, or struggle to focus on their school work. There are so many factors that go into a child’s ability to pay attention and learn at school.

Aside from their parents and teachers, school counselors can play the biggest role in a child’s life. They offer help with a range of issues that students might face, while also assisting students who need more challenging work or are looking ahead to higher education.

Depending on the grade level, a counselor might encounter different scenarios. But what never changes from pre-k to high school is that students sometimes need extra support. And school counseling programs can provide that support whenever it’s necessary. Here are a few great school counseling resources for those just getting started in the career.

Counselors Can Help Promote Acceptance of Differences 

Not every student is wired in the same way. In the past, students who were diagnosed with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning differences were considered to be disabled, troubled, or disrupted. Many were put into special education classrooms and not given the opportunity to thrive.

Now, we know much more about the concept of neurodiversity. We know that students who are neurodivergent can and do succeed—as long as they are given the right tools and opportunities. Counseling programs can help students celebrate and accept their own differences and the differences of others.

All students benefit when we value different perspectives and ways of thinking. That acceptance starts in the classroom and the counseling office. Counselors need to develop an understanding of neurodiversity and to help students learn to value these learning differences.

Counselors Can Provide a Safe Space for Struggling Students 

School is very challenging for some students. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, but students are expected to be proficient in basic subjects like reading, writing, and mathematics. For some students, these subjects just don’t come naturally, leading to issues like child illiteracy. Students who struggle to keep up in these basic skills often have problems finding and keeping jobs later in life.

Additionally, a student’s home life and mental health can affect their academic performance. Children who are experiencing bullying, food insecurity, homelessness, abuse, or neglect find it harder to focus at school. Other children have social struggles that affect their schoolwork.

Counselors can provide an outlet for these students and provide a safe space. Some kids just need to talk through their problems, while others might need special resources and attention. A counselor can help to ensure that students get the individualized help they need so they don’t fall behind academically or suffer from unmanaged mental health concerns.

Students Often Struggle Navigating the Educational & Social Pressures of School. Counselors Can Help 

Even though some adults remember their years in school as a happy, carefree time, this is not true for many children and teens. School can be overwhelming, especially for students who struggle with academic success, social pressures and even past childhood trauma.

Some students become anxious about the amount of homework they need to complete, test scores, and even college admissions. Socially, students might deal with bullying, peer pressure, and other interpersonal challenges. The role of a counselor is to offer support in whatever form it’s needed.

Counselors are there to help walk students through difficult situations. They might be able to set up extra academic help or give tips for safely handling social pressure. These problems occur for just about every child at some point, and having an objective, yet caring, person to help them get through a difficult time can be life-changing.

Counselors Can Improve Student Exam Scores and Outcomes

Test scores aren’t the sole determiner of success, but they can affect whether or not a student can progress and gives an indicator of skills like basic math and literacy. While putting the emphasis on testing isn’t necessarily the best strategy, it is important to prepare children and set them up for success.

One way to do that is with improved school counselor programs. Studies show that lower ratios of students to counselors have a positive impact on student outcomes. In Indiana, ratios of 1:250 reduced absenteeism and improved test scores, while lower ratios in Connecticut resulted in better graduation rates, reduced suspensions, and more.

No school is perfect, and counselors can’t help solve every issue a student may face. But these programs are crucial for ensuring that students have every chance to succeed, regardless of their situation.

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