GUIDANCE AND COUNSELLING FOR THE PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILD

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1 GUIDANCE AND COUNSELLING FOR THE PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILD By Segun Idowu ABSTRACT Guidance and counseling is aimed at helping individuals understand themselves and there environment so that they can function effectively in the society. It is aimed at helping individuals overcome their problems. The primary school child in Nigeria does not seems to have been expose to proper and professional guidance and counseling, hence, his or her focus is limited as far as his personality is concerned. This paper examines the need for the introduction of guidance and counseling in Nigeria schools. The objectives and strategies of counselling at the. primary school level have been lucidly spelt out. INTRODUCTION Basic Concepts 'Guidance' and 'Counselling' Guidance Is a process whereby an individual is helped to understand himself in all ramifications, so that he can effectively utilize his potentialities or talents. Counselling is a process through which an individual who needs help is assisted a professionally prepared individual so that he can be helped to make necessary adjustment to life, and to his environment. It is a process whereby an individual is helped through a relationship with a professionally prepared per-* son to voluntarily change his behaviour, clarify his attitudes and goals so that his problems could be solved. Counselling is done in two ways; individual counselling and group counselling. In individual counselling, there is a one to one relationship between the client and the counsellee. In group counselling, the counsellor is involved with a group of counsellees. In addition, counselling may be preventive and curative. The Guidance/Counsellor believes in the individuality of people. To him every individual is a unique special person, who is capable of developing his potentials and capabilities to the fullest, if properly guided. GUIDANCE SERVICES Appraisal Services In appraisal services the counsellor makes use of data, which he has gathered, organised and interpreted. This may be done through the teachers, parents and significant others. The pupils have cumulative record folders where the information and data about them are kept. ''Through the appraisal services provided by Counsellors, the pupils are well assessed, thereby bringing Into focua their abilities, capabilities and drives. Counselling Service The counsellor provides vocational, educational and personal/ social counselling. The counsellor herbs students through the use of counselling strategies. Through counselling services, the pupils are properly guided in the areas of academic, vocational personal social

2 counselling. Information Service The Guidance Counsellor also provides Information service in the school system. He/she provides personal, social, vocational and educational counselling. The primary school pupil also needs information on various aspects of life. The pupil needs to be exposed to information service, so. that, he/she 'an understand himself, his world and his abilities in order to utilise he/she potentialities fully. PLANNING, PLACEMENT AND FOLLOW UP SERVICES These services are also provided in the school system in order to enable children reap the benefits of Guidance and Counselling. The child has to be properly focused upon and helped so that his activities can be planned, so that he can be properly- placed in the appropriate secondary school; and his activities have to be properly followed up by the counsellor. THE QUALITIES AND ROLES OF A COUNSELLOR It is pertinent to ask the questions who should be a counsellor in the school system? What are his characteristics? For any one to be able to provide any meaningful counselling in the primary school, be should have the following characteristics. a) Empathy; b) Genuineness; c) Patient Understanding; d) Ability to maintain confidentiality; e) "Sound moral character; and f) Ability to maintain good appearance. The counsellor Is a helping professional who Is trained in human behaviour. He interprets human behaviour In such a way that he will be able to function effectively In the world around him. The Guidance counsellor seeks to help individuals of all ages and sex in their bid to solve their problems. He is always out to treat individuals with dignity and respect. The counsellor empathises with individuals and confidentiality In his watch-word. He keeps his counsellees" secrets secret. He is a career educator, who sees to it that Individuals are properly guided in their choice of careers. Indeed, the counsellor is an adviser, a helper, a teacher, a parent, a confidant and a friend to the child. WHY THE PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILD NEEDS COUNSELLING These are some of the reasons why primary school children need counselling. (a) An individual's ability, Interest, aptitude are better tapped at the initial stages of life. The practice whereby counselling is not done at the very crucial stages of life is anathema to the development of the child. It has to start at the primary school level. (b) There is a need to provide special help for numerous primary school children. It Is worth knowing that the Nigerian Prisons, and Mental Health hospitals are inhabited by individuals who could have profited from guidance and help in early life. They lead unproductive and unhappy lives because they were not properly guided from the beginning. (c) There is need to stem the tide of maladaptive behaviours In the school system and In the

3 general public. Many vagabonds, drug abusers, drug peddlers, bullies, hooligans and pimps could have been helped to live better and more useful lives if they have been exposed to counselling services at youth. (d) There is need to hunt for gifted children In the society with a view to helping them develop their talents fully. This can only be done through counselling strategies. (e) The present pressure of the society demands the help of counselling and the counsellors. Many homes are now breeding grounds for social problems. There is need for a change for the better. (f) The impoverishness of many homes demands the help of Guidance/Counsellors who should embark on outreach counselling. (g) There is need to provide the child with a sound foundation for future, academic, psychological, and personal growth. The truth has to be recognised that life begins at birth and not at adolescence, in the secondary schools. GOALS OF PRIMARY SCHOOL COUNSELLING Primary school counselling focuses on the child a learner and on the teachers as helpers. It's goals, therefore, has wide Implications for children (pupils) and teachers, as highlighted below. The Child (a) The Counsellor assists each child to understand and accept his uniqueness and liabilities. (b) The counsellor helps the child to develop a healthy self concept. (c) The counsellor helps the child to grow and develop in all spheres of life. (d) The counsellor helps the child to deal with normal and interpersonal relationships. (e) The counsellor assists the child to cope with and alleviate personal and emotional problems. The Teacher (a) The teacher is helped to provide an optimal learning climate, since the teacher needs to understand the child and himself, it is necessary to help each teacher become familiar with and indeed sensitive to the needs of individual pupils. (b) The teacher is aided in identifying the talents and uniqueness of individual children as early as possible. (c) The teacher is encouraged to take interest in in-service training on a continuous basis. (d) The teacher is helped to increase the possibility for each child to participate in self study problem solving and decision making. (e) The teacher is guided In his efforts to coordinate his pupil's learning, class work and general school activities. THE COUNSELLOR AND PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILD The Guidance/Counsellor as a helping professional should realise that counselling in the primary school is different from counselling in the other stages of the school system. The clients that the guidance/counsellor deal with at the primary school state are younger than those in the higher levels of the educational system. Many of them are between the ages of six and twelve

4 years. The counsellor should therefore understand the characteristics of these children. Specifically, he should understand their behaviours and know them very well, so that he can counsel them effectively. To do this he has to put into practice all the theories he has learnt as a school counsellor. First, he should be highly empathic, sot that he can succeed in his bid to provide counselling services in primary schools. He should know the feelings of these young people and try as much as possible to share their feelings and understand to share their feelings and understand their problems. Some of them may not be as verbal as the counsellor would expect. Through his empathic disposition, he/she will be able to observe and understand his non-verbal clients and to interprete their feelings in the most professional manner. Moreover, the counsellor should be patient. He has to be actively involved in the counselling relationship. He has to give the young clients his total attention, so that he may be able to get at the root cause of their problems. Further, the primary school counsellor should establish and maintain a good rapport and cordial relationship, with his clients. He has to exhibit a very sound moral character. He cannot, afford to behave irrationally among the young clients. He has to be an individual who will inspire emulation, because young people very easily emulate the older ones. OUTREACH COUNSELLING The counsellor cannot afford the luxury of sitting down in the office expecting to get clients. He should recognise the levels and limitations of the primary school child. He should therefore reach out by making himself known as their helper. He should actively recruit clients; through his professional exertion, he should be able to identify the clients who need special help. He should be highly involved in the development of the pupils. He, cannot affords to be docile, if his counselling is to be effective. USE OF COUNSELLING APPROACHES The counsellor in his bid to counsel the primary school child has to be cautious in the use of counselling theories and strategies. Some of the counselling theories may not be adequate for counselling the. primary-school child. For example, the client centred therapy, which is a nondirective therapy, may not be very adequate for the primary school child, who needs a directive approach. Being a slow therapy, it may not be very adequate for the primary school child whose needs may be immediate. The same holds for some other counselling theories. It may be more prudent for the counsellor to embark on the eclectic approach to counselling. SUGGESTIONS 1. The Government should start immediately the counselling of pupils in Nigerian primary schools. It is prudent to embark on counselling right from the early school years. It is more advantageous to lay a solid and positive social, academic and behavioural foundation at the primary school level than to defer It until the junior or senior secondary stage. 2. All the' teachers in the primary schools should be given in-service training in order to expose them to the rudiments of counselling. 3. The need to Incorporate primary school counselling in Nigerian teacher education programme, particularly at the NCE level, should be in proper focus. 4. A Guidance Committee that will see to the proper monitoring of guidance and counselling programmes in primary schools should be set up at the federal, state and local government

5 levels. 5. The government should regulate the use of the cane, or even ban its use in the school system. This will enable the teachers develop other strategies or methods of 'modifying behaviour ones that would be more permanent and lasting so that children's behaviour could be modified or more effectively controlled. CONCLUSION Counselling in the primary school is desirable and it should be intensified at this level of education. However, primary school counselling requires a different approach from the ones needed for other levels of education. It is important that the practitioner in the primary school should be exposed to the rudiments of counselling in the primary school since the primary school child requires a different approach to counselling. The guidance counsellor in the primary school should realise that his counselling approaches should be such that will enable him to meet the needs of primary school children. In the provision of counselling services for the Nigerian primary schools, the counsellor, teachers, parents and governments must be actively involved. REFERENCES Idowu, Segun (1986). Basics of Guidance, and Counselling. Ibadan: Signal Educational Services Ltd. Idowu, Segun (1989). Choosing and Managing Your Career, University Press Limited. Hoose, William H. (1973). Elementary School Guidance, and Counselling. A Composite View. Smith, E. (1979). Counselling the Culturally Different Black, youth, Columbia, Ohio: Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company.

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