Arrowsmith Methodology

Arrowsmith Methodology

The Arrowsmith Program at EAS is based on the philosophy that it is possible to treat learning disabilities by identifying and strengthening mental capacities. It is a program of intensive and graduated mental exercises that are designed to strengthen the underlying weak cognitive capacities that are the source of the learning disabilities. Each student’s program is based on careful assessment to identify the specific difficulties.

Arrowsmith School in Toronto has developed and successfully used this exercise program over 30 years. The majority of these students have gone on to realize their academic and personal goals and attribute their successes to Arrowsmith methods.

Achieving Results Through:

  • detailed assessment and identification of 19 learning dysfunctions
  • innovative methods which include specialized cognitive exercises and computerized programs
  • clearly defined and individualized goals
  • academic instruction in English and Mathematics
  • a positive, supportive and structured learning environment
  • building self-esteem by developing competence
  • low student to teacher ratio

Can the Arrowsmith Program Benefit Your Child?

Arrowsmith students are typically of average or above intelligence but are experiencing problems in school which may include difficulties with reading, writing, mathematics, remembering, understanding, auditory processing, dyslexia or attention disorders (ADD/ADHD).

Parents who find that their child is being held back by learning disabilities are invited to review the list of 19 Learning Dysfunctions which appears in the Learning Dysfunctions page of the web site. Each student is unique in his or her combination of problem areas and the Arrowsmith Program addresses the most common areas. An abbreviated version of this list also appears in the EAS brochure (link to brochure).

The Admissions and Individualized Program page of this web site contain additional information about Eaton Arrowsmith Learning Centre admissions and assessment.

Theory Underlying the Arrowsmith Program

The goal of the Arrowsmith Program is to strengthen the learning capacities of its students.

The basis of this approach is an understanding of the human brain, its functions and more particularly, its dysfunctions. The Arrowsmith Program’s identification of learning dysfunctions is based on the work of the neuropsychologist, A. R. Luria, who investigated the function of specific brain areas.

Luria concluded that complex cognitive activities, such as reading, writing and mathematics, require the interaction of several areas of the brain and that each individual brain area has a very specific role to play. If one brain area that is part of a specific learning activity is impaired, the performance of that learning activity will be impaired in a way particular to the contribution of the weaker brain area. This impairment is the source of a specific learning dysfunction.

When several of these areas of the brain are impaired, the individual may be unable to compensate for his or her problems, which will then manifest itself in a learning disability. Please see the description of 19 Learning Dysfunctions for more information.

The philosophy of the Arrowsmith Program is that these affected brain areas can be improved through mental exercises, resulting in increased mental capacities and strengthened learning abilities. Research at Arrowsmith School has shown that when the deficient area is improved, the individual’s ability to perform complex tasks such as reading or writing also improves.

In work carried on since 1978, the Arrowsmith School’s research in Toronto has identified 19 specific learning dysfunctions which can be addressed by the Arrowsmith Program’s methods, including such everyday problems as difficulty with talking and thinking simultaneously, retaining oral information or instructions, problem solving and mental arithmetic.

Each student in the Arrowsmith Program has his or her specific schedule of tasks and exercises to be completed during the course of a day at Eaton Arrowsmith Learning Centre. The exercises for each student differ depending upon the dysfunctions requiring treatment.

Underfunctioning areas of the brain are treated like weak muscles and are intensely stimulated through mental exercises to produce strengthened learning capacities in the specific areas that have been identified, through assessment, as weak.

Each exercise has been designed to target a specific area of learning difficulty and each student’s program is tailored for that student’s particular needs. These include written, visual, auditory and computer exercises. The exercises for each dysfunction are repetitive in order to intensely stimulate specific areas of the brain. Each full-time student attending Eaton Arrowsmith Learning Centre is tested at the end of each year to assess progress and the student’s program is modified as needed.

The goal of the Arrowsmith Program is to help students capitalize on their increased learning capacities and eventually reintegrate them into a full academic curriculum at their appropriate grade level following completion of a three to four-year program.

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