I am a school counselor in a public, pre-K through 5th-grade elementary school. I work primarily with students in grades three through five, providing whole-class lessons for all of my students, as well as individual and small-group counseling sessions for my at-risk students. My interventions are wide-ranging, addressing students' academic, social/personal, and career development needs.
As a school counselor I can attest to the veracity of the statistics provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (2017): that 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental health issue, that half of all mental health problems show first signs before the person turns 14 years of age, and that only 20% of children with diagnosable mental health issues receive the treatment they need.
These findings are consistent with research from the National Child Trauma Stress Network (2008) which notes that up to 25% of school-aged children are at risk of social, behavioral, and educational issues as a result of traumas that they have observed and experienced.
These students are at-risk socially, emotionally, and academically. In order for these students to master critical social-emotional learning (SEL) skills, interventions beyond the classroom lessons offered to all students are required.
While much of my SEL curriculum is delivered in whole-class lessons to all students, many of my at-risk students need instruction and practice beyond that offered in the classroom to master critical SEL skills.
In this project I am requesting a variety of therapeutic games to use in small-group counseling sessions with at-risk students to provide instruction and skill practice in the five social-emotional learning competency clusters highlighted in a report by Penn State and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (April 2017), including self-awareness and self-management of one's feelings, social awareness/empathy, relational skills, and responsible decision-making.
My students agree: Game play is a fun and engaging way to teach SEL skills! Because of the relational nature of small-group counseling and the various emotions experienced in game play, students have multiple opportunities to recognize, process, and understand their emotions. Ultimately, these small-group counseling sessions become a human laboratory in which SEL skills can be practiced in real time and in real situations.
Beyond the extra instruction and practice of SEL skills, small-group counseling allows at-risk students to see that they are not alone in their struggles. These groups can provide at-risk students the peer support networks that "spur conversations . . . so that we can improve understanding and breakdown stigma around mental health issues" (Born This Way Foundation, 2017). In summary, small-group counseling sessions are an effective way to provide support to students who need additional instruction to master critical SEL skills and are an important tier in the "multi-tiered system of support" proposed in CASEL's District Resource Center report of best practices (2017).
DonorsChoose is the most trusted classroom funding site for teachers.
As a teacher-founded nonprofit, we're trusted by thousands of teachers and supporters across the country. This classroom request for funding was created by Dr. Taylor and reviewed by the DonorsChoose team.
DonorsChoose makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America create classroom project requests, and you can give any amount to the project that inspires you.
Browse bundles of books that prominently feature Black, Arab, Asian, Indigenous, Latinx, and Pacific Islander characters, and the LGBTQ+ community. With each ColorPop book bundle purchased, $5 is donated to our Book Donation Fund, which brings identity-affirming books directly into public school classrooms.