The following story is a first-person account from an Eaton Arrowsmith parent. It shows the impact the school can have on children with learning disabilities from the perspective of a family that has experienced the life-changing program firsthand.
When our daughter started Grade 8, we realized that it was going to be a very difficult and stressful time for all of us. The school counselor called us in after 3-4 weeks and suggested Katia change classes or drop some of them. She was completely lost in school. She was confused with classes and couldn’t open her own locker. She had a poor memory and didn’t understand the content of the subjects she was taking. Katia’s reading was very slow (2-3 years below her expected level), her writing was confusing and not logical. Her mental math was also very poor. It was difficult for her to understand the math concepts. Her concentration was poor. On the positive side, she showed great talent in art and was able to understand and solve visual math problems.
As a result of her struggles at school, Katia developed anxiety and internal stress and we knew we needed to find a solution for her. We started to look for another school or program that could help our daughter. In our search, we came across Eaton Arrowsmith school and were impressed with the progress the students made at EA.
Around that time Ms. Barbara Arrowsmith came to Vancouver to give a presentation and together with Katia we attended. For Katia it was like an “aha” moment. She said, “the story of Barbara reminded me of myself”. It was ultimately Katia’s own decision to switch to Eaton Arrowsmith School.
The first two weeks at EA were the most difficult for Katia. Her brain started to work differently but it was not an easy transition. She cried every day after school and asked us not to talk to her because she was tired.
After about 6 weeks we started noticing some changes: Katia became more alert and oriented in surroundings, started asking questions about nature, politics, and life in general. It was like she finally awoke to life.She started showing interest in the outside world (what was going on outside the car window when we were driving) and she started talking to other girls at her dance class (she attends Ukrainian dancing classes once a week).
She became quicker in making decisions and stopped ‘freezing’. After three months she started reading chapter books and was able to understand an analog clock. In just under six months her body became more balanced and coordinated. Her dancing teacher started to put her in the 1st row.
In one year Katia started losing her fears and overcoming her shyness. She became more confident with neighbors and strangers. Her sleep pattern also changed. She was able to go to her room and sleep by herself without interruptions (before she tried to sleep with the lights on and frequently ran to my bedroom in the middle of the night).
After a year and a half at Eaton Arrowsmith, Katia was able to babysit her two-year-old nephew. She started to read and understand peoples’ faces and situations.
Katia has made significant progress since she started at EA and she is still developing and working her brain. In one of her homework paragraphs, she wrote, “One day I will go to the University and will have a lot of friends and enjoy my life like other students.”
We think that Katia is on her way.
This post is sponsored by one of our community builders, Eaton Arrowsmith
At Eaton Arrowsmith we teach our students a series of exercises to help them strengthen their brains and address the cognitive weaknesses that cause their specific learning difficulties. We operate on the principle of neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to be strengthened over time with targeted training. This sets us apart from other learning intervention programs. www.eatonarrowsmith.com
Kelly is the Managing Editor for VancouverMom and Director of Corporate Development for Crisp Media. She can't function without her morning coffee and hates making school lunches - especially when she forgets its hot lunch day. When not out enjoying the city with her husband and two daughters she can be found on her laptop at a cafe working on her novel.