Someone to Count On

Monday, March 22nd, 2021

Business in the Community Ireland

Ladyswell National School, Dublin 15, can count on IBM volunteers (image pre-dates pandemic)


“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation” – Plato

At this point in the year, time seems to be all we’ve got and yet is in short supply. Tasks that seemed straightforward a year ago, are taking much longer now, as we navigate the new technological norms of Zooms, Teams, Meets amongst others. But children are leaving the online world for formal state education and slowly but surely making their way back into the classroom. With a wide span of knowledge gained or lost since last in the classroom, the teacher can count on Business in the Community Ireland to be there to assist with regards to literacy and numeracy.

While we were locked down and restricted to our 5km radius, the data from the Education Research Centre on DEIS schools regarding mathematical literacy was bleak. 28% of 15 year olds categorised below a proficiency level 2 – a level that is below what would be needed to have a job or go into third-level education – a social exclusion, so to speak. Every news outlet is carrying information on ‘the widening gap’.

To lighten the load, our Time to Count programme is now up and running in the virtual space. Through it, businesses are paired with local schools, so that employees can volunteer to help third-class children improve their numeracy skills – the aim is to learn through play, to have fun, to be lost in a completely new activity for a while, to challenge the brain, and to be a person for the children to count on. One volunteer said “I laughed so much!”

Volunteers already delivering the programmes have been using a deck of cards to improve the numeracy skills of the children, while learning some interesting facts on cards themselves (52 cards – 52 weeks in the year). They have been playing with dice, looking at graphs, solving word problems and generally being rather impressive ambassadors for maths. As Plato suggested, they learned a lot about each other.

We’ve had tales of children and families broadening their IT skills in order to attend the Time to Count sessions and the children enjoying the importance of having “to go to my Zoom meeting”! We have heard stories of children increasing their confidence and perseverance with thinking of possible solutions and “hard” questions for the volunteers, while anyone that has been involved, has found it to be so worthwhile.

Social inclusion in education is having someone to count on, knowing they’ll be at the other end of a zoom meeting, knowing they’ve made time in their day for you and that they’ve committed to showing up for you. And that is exactly what volunteers provide when they sign up to Time to Count.

Would you like to play games, create bonds, improve your brain power, up your creativity and productivity, help children gain skills that they haven’t been able to do in the past few months so that they have a better chance at staying included in society in the future? Can we count on you? Join us here.