A well-designed elementary school counseling curriculum helps students overcome personal barriers and reach their full potential. Actively engage students in the learning process by offering activities that appeal to students with different learning styles. Students especially enjoy completing hands-on tasks that involve self-exploration and positive group interaction.

Encourage Self-Affirmation

Instruct students to draw a colorful self-portrait emphasizing physical features they like about themselves, such as their big brown eyes. Then tell students to surround their drawing with words that describe their other positive qualities. For instance, a student might write “friendly” or “smart.” Finally, have students work in pairs to identify and share five complimentary words that describe their partner. Encourage students to say or do something nice each day to help create a warm and inclusive school climate.

Teach Time Management Skills

To excel academically, students need a system for budgeting their time and balancing competing interests. Assign students the task of recording how they spend their waking hours outside school. For seven days, students should write down what they’re doing every 15 to 30 minutes. Afterward, ask students to calculate how much time they spent each day on extracurricular activities, socializing, video games, chores, meals and homework. Discuss priorities and the problems caused by procrastination. Invite students to brainstorm ways of using their time more efficiently. Challenge them to set goals for improving study habits.

Explore Potential Careers

Help students recognize the connection between interests, aptitude and occupational choice. Start by directing students to make a list of things they enjoy doing and seem to do naturally. For instance, students might identify reading and writing as an interest and ability. Ask students to think of occupations where those attributes would be important. Divide students into small groups and challenge them to come up with at least one career for every letter of the alphabet. To get them started, offer examples – astronaut, barber, carpenter, detective. Have a contest to see who can finish first.

Healthy Social Development

Arrange desks in a circle for a discussion on responsibility. Allow children to define what the word means to them before offering a definition. Ask students to name and discuss responsibilities they have to themselves, to their families, to their school and community. For example, students might mention brushing their teeth, doing chores, finishing homework, catching the bus and getting along with peers. Ask volunteers to discuss how they feel about their responsibilities. List consequences for failing to fulfill responsibilities and talk about how that feels.