Introduction to Counseling Theory and Skills

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Introduction to Counseling Theory and Skills


Guidance is a category of discipline and has a positive connotation. And it refers to pointing out, showing the way, leading or directing. An adult using guidance searches for and uses positive strategies. Guidance strategies are often used in kindergartens; they are effective methods to guide children’s behavior. So what is the purpose of child guidance? According to Miller (2013), there are short-term and long-term objectives. For short-term objectives, it is to help children to follow the same basic rules for decent and responsible behavior that are applicable to all persons living in a democracy; and to help children learn the differences between right and wrong, such as behavior must not present a clear risk of harm to oneself or others, behavior must not infringe on the rights of others, behavior must not unreasonably damage the environment, animals, objects, or materials in the environment. For long-term objective, it is to assist children in their journey to responsible adulthood by nurturing their mastery of self-control. The philosophies of child guidance behind is also important, according to Marion (2015), the beliefs about children guidance are as follow. It is that protecting children is the most important role of teachers; teachers have a choice about how they think about and behave with children; a teacher’s style of guiding children does affect children; constructivist, positive, and effective child guidance is based on solid knowledge of child development; there is no one right way to deal with any issue but that there are any good ways; each teacher should develop a personal approach to guiding children, one built on theoretical eclecticism.

The essay is dividing into 4 parts, the first two parts will discuss about the direct and indirect guidance strategies used in the practicum school, the third part will give suggestion of possible ways of improvement and their reasons, and the last part will be reflections on the roles of early childhood educators.

Evaluation of the direct guidance strategies used

By Marion (2015), there are some goals for direct guidance for kindergarteners, they are helping them to develop healthy self-control, manage emotions well, and foster good social skills and relationships, foster healthy and positive self-esteem, respect for others. Guidance practices must be individually appropriate.

The first strategy the school used is use limit effectively. The purpose of this strategy is to state expectations for desired behavior, and to clarify boundaries or limits. So how do we consider a limit as appropriate? It should never be arbitrary, and the limits should focus on important matters and be developmentally appropriate. It is very often for teachers in the practicum school to use this strategy, as children are often easy to follow the limits given by teachers. The most typical example would be writing new words no matter in Chinese or English. Children are writing homework every day, and there are many different situations that the children do not manage to write the words in an acceptable standard. Sometimes they write the words out of the given lines, sometimes they write untidily, sometimes they write the words with wrong spellings etc. These are common situations that happened in the school during the writing sessions, and the teacher seldom shout at them or punish them, indeed she set limits for them. For example, she asks them to write within the lines, double check after they finished their works, teach them how to write the words in a funny way or along with a story. She gives easy and understandable limits, and she does not give too much pressure to the children. Instead she lets the children to correct gently, so children are easy to follow the expectations. There are few points that the teacher does well in setting limits. She uses concrete words and short, natural and normal sentences. She tells the children exactly what to do. She gives short, clear, fair reasons for limits. She gives children enough time to carry out the limit or to complete something else before they carry out the limit. She does not give a chain of limits. She does not give vague limits. For example, “I don’t think you should be writing in this manner.”

The second strategy the school used is give signals or cues for appropriate behaviors. The purpose of this strategy is to help children remember to use the appropriate behavior, part of effective on-the-spot guidance. There is a bunch of generally agreed steps for this strategy: 1) Identify the skill for which you will use a signal or cue. 2) Figure out what would be a logical signal, such as a quiet verbal reminder, a hand signal. 3) Observe the child to discover when the appropriate skill should be used. 4) Whenever possible, give the signal just before the new behavior should occur and not after the child has forgotten. I saw the teacher using this strategy whenever she brought the children to the toilet. Children often forget to tuck in their shirts, it would be very annoying and unwelcome if the teacher scold them or punish them every time she sees that. Instead she stands at the entrance of the toilet, whenever the children come out of the toilet she gives a sign of tucking in the shirt with pretending the action. Children get the teacher’s meaning and check whether if they have tucked in their shirts, if not they tuck their shirt in at once. Children easily remember this manner, and they can almost do it by themselves or reminding each other even if the teacher does not give them the signal.

Evaluation of the indirect guidance strategies used

According to Marion (2015), indirect guidance means influencing children’s behavior through appropriate room arrangement, schedule, structure of learning opportunities (i.e., curriculum and activities),and materials.

Classrooms should convey or encourage, it divides into four aspects. First the classrooms should give a sense of order. The rooms need to be well arranged, tidy, and organized. Children know that items have their own place in the room. Children know that the basic structure of the room will be the same from day to day, though the teacher might change materials and activities in centers. Second, the classrooms should be in favor for social interactions. Classrooms need to be set up so that children can interact easily with other children as well as with their teachers. Third, the classroomsshould be kindly giving choices for the children. Classrooms need to give children good practice of how to make wise choices. Last, the classrooms should be in a manner for active learning. Classrooms need to encourage active learning, so that children can learn actively in centers, through discovery and working with real objects, and through projects. There are certain benefits spaces for children are well-designed.Children are likely to have lower levels of stress and far fewer discipline problems. Children are believed to become more independent and self-controlled. Children are able to display greater feelings of competence and confidence. Children are favorable to develop better decision-making skills and better ability to take initiative.

And Marion thinks that the classroom should be organized into activity areas. Firstly a small-group learning center. The seating arrangement should vary with the purpose of each center. Some small-group learning centers do not require a table and chairs like the reading area in the school, children sit on the floor with cushions. Small-group learning centers should be well separated from other areas, which clearly communicate each area’s function. The school spends appreciative expenditure on creating separate small-group learning centers, different function rooms are set up for the children like English drama room, Spanish room, media room etc. all for small-group, sometimes large-group activities. Materials should be stored related to the activity in the area. The school should avoid storing materials not related to the function of the area in that location. All the materials in the school are separated and clearly stated which areas they are belong to. Children are guided indirectly by storing materials within their reach when we want them to have easy access to the materials.

Second, large-group center. This space should be large, open and flexible enough to accommodate group activities for most or all of the children. The school can provide much enough open spaces for the children for conduct vigorous activities. Teachers might store items in the large-group area that help them manage the space well. Specific materials, however, might not be stored in the large-group area but are brought there by the teacher. The school has sufficient resources, materials for different kinds of activities like large motor activities and music activities, are stored respectively in the responding areas.

Marion also suggested that a classroom needs enough area for children to have choices, so they are actively involved, and can switch between activities easily. Teachers should consider the age and number of children when making decisions about the number of centers. Teachers should also arrange areas logically, quieter areas should be placed near each other and so that they are well separated from areas encourage active play. Obvious and well-planned physical boundaries should be created for activity areas. The school separates the classrooms into areas with different shelves, so materials belong to each areas are clearly separated. Pathways should be long enough to make moving among areas easy. Skillful use of lighting is an indirect method of guidance. Teacher controls the lighting in the room for different activities, children know clearly what the next activities are about along with the effect of the lighting. Well-designed classrooms should be pleasant and attractive, as the teacher has created visual, auditory, olfactory, and textural interest. Teacher likes to decorate the classroom with different art products by the children to let them feel involved. She also uses different colorful decorations to hang in the classroom in to order to make the classroom look delightful.

Schedule, Curriculum and activities, and materials are also sources of indirect child guidance. The school plans good time schedule to guide the children a structural day, children learn to live a regulative time table. And a good schedule helps children to learn to control themselves and to make choices. Effective curriculum and activities indirectly guide children with the following factors, respectively how the activities are organized, and the number of activities, children’s active involvement and the choices offered to children. Lastly, materials refer to a moderately rich assortment of exploratory and safe items that encourage competent, independent behavior in children. Materials should reflect the needs, interests, and abilities of children.

Suggestion of possible ways of improvement and their reason

Reflection on the roles of early childhood educators

Early childhood educators have more responsibility now than ever before.Early childhood educators have to fill the shoes of multiple people in their students’ lives and not just their teacher.An early childhood professional must embrace and understand their always changing role while meeting the ever changing needs of their students.Early childhood educators can find the need for their services in multiple kinds of settings.Early childhood spans a larger age range than many think, including children from zero through eight years old.Early childhood educators need to be well rounded and have a greater understanding of young children than any other education professionals.The enjoyment of playing and interacting with young children is not enough to truly fill the role of an early childhood educator.Understanding the biological workings of a child and any theories about the development of children between the ages of zero and eight is just as important as the enjoyment of working with young children.