About the Program
Counting for Life is a Learning Links program specifically developed to help children in Years 3 to 5 who struggle with numeracy at an important stage in their development.
The program works by marrying a school with volunteers from the community to help children weekly for 10 weeks to improve their numeracy skills and enhance their self-esteem and confidence. The goal is to not only enhance the numeracy skills of participating children but also encourage them to feel good about themselves as learners and provide them with the mathematical skills needed to fully participate in society in later years.
Counting for Life has been based on the success of its sister program Reading for Life, an evidence-based literacy program developed and successfully run by Learning Links since 2003. Reading for Life consistently achieves excellent and measurable educational outcomes and gains for the children participating. Counting for Life has been developed based on this successful template and model of delivery.
Schools will be identified by Learning Links and our psychologist will liaise with the school to help identify the most suitable children to participate. Learning Links will source volunteers who will be either provisional psychologists or community volunteers to act as “Counting Buddies”. Our volunteer programs involve careful recruitment, screening and selection of volunteers.
The program is semi-structured to provide routine and predictability for children, yet contains a variety of activities to encourage engagement and interest. It focuses on praising effort rather than outcome to encourage motivation and incorporates numeric awareness and activities to enhance self-esteem.
Each child will be paired with a “Counting Buddy”. Sessions will be held weekly for 45 minutes at the school for 10 weeks and divided into the following activities:
- Building a relationship (approximately 5 minutes)
- Counting Patterns (approximately 5 minutes)
- Place Value (approximately 5 minutes)
- Addition & Subtraction OR Multiplication & Division (approximately 15 minutes).
- Worded Problems (10 minutes)
- Celebrating effort (approximately 5 minutes)
Participating children will be tested individually by Learning Links’ professionals using standardised tests to determine their learning strengths and needs and their level of numeracy ability before entering the program and after completing the program in the following areas: Numerical Operations; Mathematical Reasoning; Math Self Concept; Addition; Subtraction; Multiplication and Division.
Who will benefit?
Children with learning difficulties (i.e. dyscalculia) often have to work harder to succeed, receive more negative feedback regarding their work, and more often experience feelings of frustration, anger, depression, anxiety, and low academic self-esteem. * (1)
Numeracy is an essential skill for everyday living and a prerequisite for economic and social participation. Significant numbers of Australians, across all age groups, do not have, or are at risk of not developing, the numeracy skills needed to fully participate in society:
- In their first year of school, one in four children who live in Australia’s most disadvantaged communities, do not have the numeracy skills needed for school.* (2)
- One in five (17.7%) Year 9 students from a low socioeconomic background do not meet the national minimum numeracy standard on NAPLAN.* (2)
- Australia was ranked twelfth out of 22 nations in the OECD’s survey of adult numeracy skills, with one in five Australians being assessed at the lowest skills level.* (2)
(1) Grills-Taquechel, Fletcher, Vaughn, & Stuebing, 2012; Nelson & Harwood, 2011
(2) The Smith Family Research Report, Strengthening Early Numeracy Learning: The Let’s Count Program 2015
Impact on Community
On average children who have participated in the Counting for Life program have made the following gains over the 15 week program:
- Numerical Operations – improved by 9 months
- Mathematical Reasoning – improved by 10 months
- Math Self-concept – improved by+5 pts out of 40
- Addition – improved by 10 months
- Subtraction – improved by 1yr 1 month
- Multiplication – improved by 7 months
- Division – improved by 4 months
Success through this program will reduce the children’s vulnerability and their feelings of worthlessness. This will reduce the likelihood of poor behaviour, poor social relations and delinquency. Addressing learning and literacy is important if we want children to have the best chance of success.
Each child is tested prior to the program to determine their reading levels across a number of areas and their self-concept. They are re-tested again at the end of the program to determine their improvement. This information is compiled into a report that is given to the school and each parent. Feedback is also requested from the school, reading buddies, children and their parents at the conclusion of the program.
Currently seeking volunteers for the following areas:
- Blue Haven/Doyalson
- Sydney CBD
- The Hills