By Nicole Alvarado, 3 min read
How can we help our students while they are at school?
As September rolls in, it is easy to feel like our routines are falling into place and that we are adjusting to our new schedules. But as a school counselor, I challenge you to have an open conversation with your child about what safety feels like at school. While at home and within our community, we work to ensure that our children have adults that they trust and can confide in if they are in distress.
When we send our children to school for 8+ hours a day, we know that they trust their teacher and though an educator wears many hats they cannot be the only adult that our children rely on. Do your children know at least three trusted adults on their campus that they can talk with about their concerns? Something that I have found as a school counselor is that most students in the k-2 setting do not know the adults in the building whose aim is to keep them safe. Regardless of their grade most students cannot name their administration and within education we know that it is always changing or can change each year (retention issues). I cannot stress enough that if we want to ensure that we are providing tools for our children that we begin by showing them photos from the school website of who these trusted adults are. The wider the support system the more confident our students can be when they need to report a problem.
What does Counseling support look like in a school?
Does your student know that they have access to a school counselor and that you can request a meeting for them to be seen. As a parent you always have the right to request your students be seen by the counselor so that they are comfortable working with them as another trusted adult. Growing up in the 90’s, counselors were used for guidance purposes paired with testing coordinators that we saw at most once a year during state mandated testing. However, with new legislation passed in the state of Texas, school counselors are required to spend 80% of their time directly working with students. This means that now School Counselors support students through guided social emotional lessons as well as providing various brief individual and group counseling to support needs within the school and at home.
As a School Counselor I encourage you to utilize the community and tools that you have available as the school year begins. Keeping our students safe at home as well as within the school community takes a village and it helps when our students know where to look.
Nicole Alvarado is a School Counselor with a collective eight years of educational experience. Over her career, she has worked to equip students with life skills and taught them how to advocate for their needs while focusing on equitable practices. She is currently working to earn her Doctorate in Community Counseling with a focus on Traumatology. Nicole also serves on the Advisory Board at Grit Plus Gumption.