Barbeques, sunscreen, and freshly mowed lawns: the signs of summer are everywhere. And for millions of K-12 students across the country, class is almost out. Here are some ideas for school counselors and professionals who have graduated with a degree in school counseling to see students through the summer months, from health and wellness to community involvement, and make sure they get off to the right start come fall.
Physical activity is excellent for mental health. It boosts energy levels, improves self-confidence, helps ease stress, and encourages focus and motivation – crucial drivers for academic and social success. And getting healthy amounts of Vitamin D from sun exposure can even lessen the symptoms of depression. Counselors and faculty involved in education for school counselors can encourage students to enroll in summer sports, sign up for hiking or urban exploration groups, or simply get outside for daily bike rides or walks. These activities will help to keep students active, and may even present a good social outlet.
Counselors empowered through a degree program in school counseling can also help students find ways to be active in their communities. Clubs and groups are popular among middle and high school-aged students, and there’s no reason the same level of engagement has to end when the school year does: organizations such as Amnesty International and Habitat for Humanity often host meetings aimed to specifically encourage student participation. Also, townships and community offices may offer opportunities for students to help in and around their communities. Students can take part in local highway cleanups, tree planting events, and offer tutoring and mentorship services to their peers. Not only will summertime volunteer work make students feel great for participating in community improvement, but it will also be a good addition to their college applications and employment resumes.
Before the end of the current school year, highly motivated students can work with school counseling professionals to develop a summer study plan. Beyond the required summer reading, students may want to begin preparing for standardized tests and college entrance examinations; review materials for advanced placement (AP) courses; or find appropriate internships. Such activities will give them a jump start on the next semester, and keep their minds active to avoid the summer slump.
An excellent school counseling education program will develop counselors’ ability to help students make good choices, during the academic year and after it. Positive counseling techniques are essential for students’ mental health, and can inspire students to do great things for themselves and others around them. Even during the “dog days,” it’s a win-win scenario.