School Counseling Lessons for Elementary Students
From their first day of school towards pre-adolescence, students in elementary grade levels begin to grow their self-concept and establish their feelings of competence, self-worth, and confidence as learners. The beginning years of education are crucial to lay the foundation for future learning and achievement. Elementary school counselors aid young students in developing decision-making, communication, and life skills. Students also begin to explore their own character, create positive peer relationships, and learn about teamwork and independent study.
During these beginning years, early identification and intervention of any child’s needs is an imperative cornerstone to their development in order to remove any barriers to their learning and academic achievement. Through provision of education, prevention, and early identification, elementary school counselors help pave the foundation for future success in academics, personal, social, and career development.
Elementary school-aged children experience their “firsts” in many different ways. From memorizing addition tables to learning how to spell “empty”, childhood also has many “first” challenges. As children grow, they experience changes in their behavior, cognition, and personality as they discover the world around them. Middle childhood can mark a period of opportunity to develop a child’s competencies, interests, and a sense of confidence. Resources for school counselors to aid in the growth of their students incorporates early identification/intervention, skill learning, character education, career awareness, and multicultural/diversity recognition.
Featured Resources – Mindfulness
Mindfulness is an awareness of any individual on their surroundings, behaviors, and emotions. In schools, mindfulness can be used as a technique and coping skill for various events. To help students accept responsibility for their behaviors, mindfulness can be used as an empowerment tool that increases self-awareness. Through many different outlets such as breathing exercises, imagination, and yoga, promotion of a student’s inner well-being can impact their external behaviors.
- Yoga 4 Classrooms (Y4C): A school program, grounded in mind-body practices, Y4C provides schools with training to address the whole child positive, peaceful, and productive classrooms.
- Mindfulness Exercises for Children: A short YouTube playlist on mindfulness exercises for children including 4-7-8 breathing and progressive relaxation.
- Stop, Breathe, & Think: The YouTube playlist account for mindfulness, meditation, and compassion tools. Stop, Breathe, & Think also offer downloadable apps for students.
- Mandalas for Mindfulness: Free printouts from Education.com for mandala coloring pages.
Recommended Resource Authors
- The Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education offers many lesson plans for free through their School Counseling Curriculum – Elementary School Unit & Lesson Plans.
- Elementary School Counseling is a resource on elementary school level school counseling, filled with lesson plans, blog posts, and many resources managed by Ohio professional elementary school counselor, Marissa Rex.
- Classroom Counseling: From introductions to identifying and expressing feelings.
- Small Group Counseling: Anger management, divorce, self-esteem, and social skills.
- Individual Counseling: Lessons aligned with the ASCA Domains: Academic, Career, & Personal/Social
Academic Lesson Plans
- ReadWriteThink provides lesson plans based on current research and instructional best practices on collaboration to story structures.
- Test Prep Throughout the Year → Supportive resources from Scholastic on standardized test preparation for students on skills and strategies.
- The National Education Association (NEA): Articles and strategies on test preparation and review of research on testing as a learning tool.
Social Lesson Plans
- 101 Ways to Teach Social Skills → Developed by the Bureau for At-Risk Youth, this comprehensive activity book is organized by achieved skill from communication to problem solving and managing conflict.
- PBISWorld – Teach Social Skills → Resources on why, when, and how to teach social skills paired with numerous links for providing social skill education and training.
Emotional Lesson Plans
- AnxietyBC Youth creates awareness and provides support and interactive education on anxiety and how to manage it.
- A Strategic Approach to Social Emotional Learning → Presentation on the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning and skills education
- Back-to-School Anxiety → 5 ways parents, teachers, school counselors, and administrators can work to address anxious feelings during the beginning of the school year.
Career Lesson Plans
- Elementary School Counselor’s Guide on college and career readiness counseling is offered by CollegeBoard Advocacy & Policy Center
Information regarding resources and lesson plans was updated as of April 2020.