Testimonials – Parents

Testimonials – Parents

Parent Who Moved to Vancouver from Australia for the Arrowsmith Program

My son Jake has just turned 17 and we’ve been here for just over 12 months.  Our story is simple.  During primary school Jake held his own relatively well as most of the work just required memory – ie times tables, facts etc.  The gap for us started at high school when he was required to comprehend, to analyse and to work at a much higher cognitive level. He just couldn’t keep up.  He didn’t understand the work, couldn’t keep up with the reading and had no chance of doing homework, assignments or projects independently.

At first my husband and I tried to tutor Jake…then we added formal tutors, testing, speech pathologists, psychologists, therapists, you name it – all with no avail.  Jakey was working harder and harder (and he’s a really determined, dedicated kid – getting him to study was never the issue) but still nothing stuck.  No matter how hard he worked he was lucky to pass anything….and the situation just kept getting worse.

I’d reached the point where we couldn’t keep just band aiding the situation any longer – and this became very real to me one night when Jake came to me in tears and told me he just couldn’t go on like this anymore…he said he didn’t want to keep living in a fog and I had to find a solution because he couldn’t go on another day.  Boy – that spurs you into action – let me tell you.

So I called my business partner – told him I need to take 2 weeks off to really concentrate on finding a solution – came across the book “The Brain that Changes Itself”, saw Jake clearly in Chapter 2, called Sandra and I think we were in Vancouver about 6 weeks later.

My husband is a scientist so normally wants to know the facts in black and white – to see results and to go through a process….but we came to EAS on gut and emotion.  We’d tried just about everything with and for Jake and we were losing our beautiful, happy, cheeky son more and more every day.  So for us it was a no brainer.  I couldn’t run the risk that there was something out there for Jake that could potentially make a difference and not give it a shot.  Even a 5% improvement would be an improvement that we couldn’t get at home.

So we came – and it’s crazy.  Jake, my younger son Connor who is 15 and I live in Vancouver.  Robbie my husband lives in Sydney – I still have a business in Sydney that I run on skype and we cross-commute every 6 weeks or so.  Air Canada loves us.

As for results?  After 12 months Jake has made amazing progress.  As I mentioned he’s very determined – and I guess that is helped by his age and the fact that he’s seen “The dark side”.  He knows what it’s like to live in a fog…or Jakeland as we call it…..so he’s doing everything he can to grab this and work through it.  His results to date have been great.  He’s finished Clocks which is one of the most important cognitive exercises and has made great progress in most of his developmental areas.

I’m probably too close to see small changes but my husband certainly notices the difference in Jakey and his ability to learn.  He recently successfully got his L’s here – its a tough exam and only 30% of people pass first time – he was one of those 30%.  That could never have happened a year ago.

Probably more importantly to me though is I have my son back – my happy, confident, cheeky boy who now believes he can do anything – so long as he works hard enough.  At the recent review of his progress, Simon Hayes the EAS Deputy Principal talked to Jake about handling University.  We both came out of the interview and Jakey said “Wow – Mr Hayes thinks I can go to Uni”….something that he’d never considered.  Now whether he does or whether he doesn’t doesn’t matter –what matters is that Jakey now has options that he wouldn’t have had 12 months ago….and he believes in himself again.

I hope that gives you some insight into our journey…..it’s been an adventure, and it’s certainly had it’s moments…but it’s something I wouldn’t hesitate to do again in a heart beat.  I’m not sure where we’d all be as a family right now if we hadn’t found EAS.  As tough as it is all being apart, it was much tougher living with a child that no matter what we did continued to spiral downwards.

I hope this helps…in someways for us the decision was easy because we made it and moved in a few weeks….I think I might have got cold feet if we’d had longer to think about it.  But there isn’t a day that goes by without me being so thankful that we found EAS and that Jakey is surrounded by teachers who give their utmost everyday to make a difference to his life.

- Sue Hollis, Sydney Australia

Testimonial from the parents of a student after less than a year at EAS

Dear Sandra, Sarah, Mark, Howard, Luciana, Melanie, Carrie, & Natalie

To follow up the parent meeting today, we just wanted to take this opportunity to let you all know how much we appreciate all of you and your efforts with our daughter and all of the children at EAS. If there had been more time at today’s meeting, we would have loved to share these sentiments publicly there. We want to also express our feelings that while we think the Arrowsmith methods are very likely effective, we believe that the safe and caring container and genuine appreciation of the children, as well as the confidence- and self-esteem-building mastery model that characterizes the program are “non-specific factors” that likely play at least an equal role in the success of the program. It is difficult to quantify the educational benefits of having “quality human beings” for teachers, but we know it matters greatly.

Every day when we take our daughter to school and pick her up, she is glowing. At home, she has been demonstrating so much personal initiative, commitment, and enthusiasm to the work that it inspires and excites us! On two separate occasions, when guests came to visit, she offered to share with them the work she’s doing at EAS—-not just by doing it, but by acting as their teacher and patiently guiding them through the process, whether it be Tracing, Word, Lexical Memory, R-Think, or L-Think. During our Sunday “home school” play sessions, she has been insisting on incorporating Lexical Memory, Broca’s, and/or Tracing in our “schedule”. She has also enjoyed playing teacher with the Tracing, using the timer and carefully checking our work in a very professional and patient manner, offering warm words of encouragement.

Having recently Mastered Level 1 of Word and Tracing after so much hard work, she’s now talking a lot about Lexical Memory—-feeling frustrated, yet seeming really determined to achieve a mastery on that one next (a similar pattern that she demonstrated prior mastering Tracing). When she sets her mind on something, she can be truly amazing.

We know that our daughter was an “atypical” applicant to your program. We cannot tell you how much it means to us that despite the challenges that she came into the world with, like us, you can see the amazing spirit, wisdom, and spunk within her. During today’s meeting, several times we felt much emotion as we listened to stories of commitment and how this program has touched so many children’s lives. We feel blessed that our daughter (and us) can be in a community with such beautiful, dedicated, and caring people as you all are. Thank you so much for all that you do.

In Appreciation,

T & E

Email from the parent of a student after six months at EAS

Wow. I just talked to my son’s piano teacher. The teacher was absolutely blown away by the changes in him. Not only how open and communicative he is now, but also his increased ability. The piano teacher said they learned a section of a new piece that he would never have attempted with my son a year ago (And remember, my son hasn’t touched the piano in 6 months.) The teacher was really amazed.

The teacher was also struck by how aware my son was of his own change… It’s clear that he is very much the driver in this process, the teacher said. In all his 45 years of teaching, he said he’d never seen anything like this. Very exciting!!!

Testimonial from the Parent of Two EAS Students

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a mother of a twenty nine year old son and a sixteen year old daughter, both whom attended EAS. Our daughter had been at a private school in West Vancouver and struggled. After school we would often stop off for a treat and I would give her change for the purchase. She was frustrated by the small coins and would opt to not have the snack if I did not give her a looney, tooney or a bill.

As any parent who has children with a learning problem knows, it is a journey to find the solution. After one month at EAS, I tried again with the change and our daughter easily was able to count it out. She graduated after two years. She still has two areas to work on but she is at a fabulous school on Vancouver Island and is two points off the honor roll. She’s successful and thrilled with her changes.

After seeing her changes, we had our, now twenty nine year old son tested and he is about to finish at EAS too. It has made a difference for him too.

The EAS program offers concrete solutions to learning challenges.

Sincerely, SJ

Testimonial from the Grandfather of an EAS Student

To Whom It May Concern:

Your program helped develop a totally new standard for the learning deficiencies of my grandson in Vancouver. It far exceeds any expectations and hopefully will continue to do so. More importantly, we receive regular updates on his progress from his teachers which gives us a more comfortable feeling assuring us there is a personal interest taken in his progress.

An Interested Grandfather

MJB Toronto, Canada

Testimonial from the Parent of an EAS Student

As a parent of 2 boys diagnosed with dyslexia and who has witnessed her children’s self esteem be completely eroded by our public school system I feel that I am more than qualified to comment on the Arrowsmith program.

My oldest son has attended Fraser Academy, a private school specializing in dyslexia, for the last 3 years and they have done a wonderful job of rebuilding his self-esteem. I have seen great improvements in both his academics and his attitude towards learning. However even after attending 3 years of basically one on one tutoring we have really only accomplished coping skills with his learning challenge and have reached a plateau.

This past year it became abundantly clear my youngest son was traveling down a similar path of his older brother. The public school system once again failed a child who at one point loved learning. After doing a great deal of research I learned of the Arrowsmith program. I registered my youngest son in their program this past September and already I have seen remarkable progress in only 2 months. His self-esteem, his positive attitude and desire to go to school have returned.

Why is it when we are faced with something that breaks the mould or appears different we discount it as fraudulent. I thought that it was common knowledge that we have really only ever understood how a very small part of our brain actually works. Even I, a rather pragmatic, black and white, factual laymen, with no background or formal education in teaching, who has done her own research on alternatives to learning, discovered the science of neuroplasticity and that it in fact has been a documented successful area of science for more than one hundred years.

Obviously a lot of parents have become disillusioned with the public school system by the decrease in enrollment and have found that the traditional mode of education is not meeting the needs of our children’s evolving brains. The true test is the success of our children who have been given the opportunity to experience the Arrowsmith program and criticize as you will, all I know is that my children were rapidly becoming a negative “statistic” had it not been for alternative forms of teaching such as those offered by the Arrowsmith Program.

Sincerely YH Vancouver, BC

Testimonial from the Parents of an EAS Student

I submitted the following comment to the Comments page on the CBC website:

After having seen the CBC documentary, “Fixing My Brain” about the Arrowsmith program, we just knew we had to write to tell you about our family’s experience with the program. In order to understand why we are strong advocates of Arrowsmith, you have to know a bit about our son’s schooling history (I know this is lengthy, but please bear with us as there is a point to all of this):

  • Kindergarten & Grade 1: Our son attended the local public school where he had trouble keeping up academically (alphabet, reading, etc.), no troubles socially.
  • Grade 2: Tried home schooling, but we had difficulty teaching him academic subjects (probably due to a combination of our lack of teaching skills and his learning disabilities)
  • Grade 3 & 4: Fraser Academy (school for children with learning disabilities providing smaller class sizes, one-on-one tutoring, wonderful teachers, regular curriculum (but we would say at a less challenging level), comparable tuition cost to Eaton Arrowsmith Learning Centre) where our son did well (mostly A’s), and so we thought he would be ready to re-enter public school.
  • Grade 5: Back in the local public school (Kumon as well), but he did not pass many of the academic subjects, and was crying every night while doing homework, highly frustrated
  • Grade 6: Back to Fraser Academy where he did quite well again. At that point we heard about Eaton Arrowsmith Learning Centre (EAS), and rather than face a lifetime of school program modifications and support, we thought that we should give EAS a try, though we were skeptical about it at the time.
  • Grade 7 & 8: Eaton Arrowsmith Learning Centre, where at the end he graduated from the full-time program
  • Grade 9: Back to public school (with a math and English tutor) and part-time at EAS. At the end of Grade 9, our son was on the honour roll at his local high school.
  • Now in Grade 10: Public school full-time, achieving a B average on his own with no extra help from tutors or parents.

As you can see, academic success in the public system was elusive for our son after several years at Fraser Academy, but was attainable after having attended the Arrowsmith program. We do believe that the Arrowsmith program worked for our son – the combination of the strategies used and the wonderful support from the teachers enabled our son to succeed on his own in the regular system. We really do not believe that he would have achieved the same level of success with any other education system currently available. Would we do it again? You bet.

(We would be happy to talk to anyone who would like more information about our experience).


K and PS

Testimonial from the parents of a grade 10 female student

When I look back on early photos of our daughter, I now see a bewildered look on her face. I think the world must have been a confusing place for her to be, even when she was a preschooler.

She and her brother are the same age and I noticed early on that she had a difficult time remembering her alphabet. I stocked up on books like Freddy Fox Fries Fish on Fridays to help her with her letters. Two minutes after reading the story she couldn’t identify the letter “F”. She also was not able to tell time or identify a penny, nickel and dime. Simple math?. . . Couldn’t do it. We were told she was just lazy or that she would grow out of it by her teachers. She could not follow simple instructions because she simply couldn’t remember them. The fact that her brother could do all of these things must have been difficult for her.

We knew something was definitely wrong and we didn’t want to wait possibly years for the public school psychologist to test her, so I had her privately tested at age 6.The results from this psychologist showed severe learning disabilities as well as a low IQ. We kept her back a year and sent her to a private school for children with learning disabilities [she almost didn’t get in because of the IQ score]. This school, with small class sizes, worked on the BC curriculum but compensated for learning difficulties and taught the Orton Gillingham method. The school was good for her self esteem in the early years…but she still couldn’t tell time, identify money or do simple math problems.  I had a troubling concern about what was going to happen to her once she finished grade 12. She’d still have a severe learning problem and a low IQ. I can’t even imagine what might have happened to her if she had remained in the public school. I learned about Arrowsmith years ago, from family living in Toronto but the schools offering it in suburban Vancouver were too far away for a little girl.

Four years after our daughter’s initial testing, I had her retested by Howard Eaton. The previous psychologist had averaged all her scores and that is how it was determined that her IQ was low. In fact her IQ was just fine but she did in fact have learning disabilities in several areas and some of them were quite severe. I’d spent four years thinking my lovely daughter wasn’t too bright.(lesson 1 –check out the psychologist carefully before beginning the process).She was delighted to be moved back up to her appropriate grade.

Three years after her psych test, I heard that Howard Eaton was opening Eaton Arrowsmith in Vancouver. We applied right away. The very extensive testing process gave all of us a clear insight to her specific learning difficulties for the first time, how she was going to tackle them and how we could support her. For the first time her felt empowered and motivated. She says sometimes the exercises she has to do are challenging and sometimes they are really boring, but at fourteen she is working diligently towards her goal to graduate from a “regular public school”. She keeps that goal in mind when the going gets tough.

I didn’t notice much for the first three or four months, and then she began to articulate her observations and feelings with wisdom and humour .She became more like a teenager should be…testing boundaries and questioning rules. (A bit tougher for her Dad and me …but more normal) She now reads voraciously and her comprehension and insight into what she has read amazes me. Her writing has flourished, and when I read some of her work I am astounded by her creativity and a maturity beyond her years. She loves Math now, even though it is an area she has the most trouble with. She particularly enjoys algebra and her times table is improving. Years ago I would comfort her as she cried herself to sleep because she was so frustrated with learning and upset by comments that her classmates had made about her. Now she knows she will eventually get it and she actually enjoys meeting the challenge with hard work which she calls active engagement.

The caring atmosphere created by the administration and staff have assisted many students with their social skills. Problems are sorted out before they escalate, in a common sense way where learning takes place and discipline is appropriate. Students learn that they don’t have to friends with everyone, but they do have to be kind and civil to all. There is a zero tolerance for bullying and issues are sorted out in “all class” meetings.

My daughter’s future now looks bright. She’s going to be just fine in her senior years of high school and university both socially and academically… something I wouldn’t have believed possible three years ago.

Testimonial from the parents of a male grade 4 student

When people ask my son how he is doing these days he replies “excellent!” This word describes how we feel about Eaton Arrowsmith Learning Centre’s program, teachers and staff.  Within the first weeks of attending we noticed that he loved his new school.  My son began setting personal goals for all aspects of his life… school, music, sports and personal.  After just one year in the program we have noticed improvement in his literacy.  His bike camp instructor commented that he volunteered to read stories to the other children at camp. On many occasions he corrects his sister’s addition homework.  I love the look on his face this summer as I explain math facts and he replies “now I get it!” And he really does!

Testimonial from the parents of a female High School aged student

As parents of three teenagers who have attended a total of two mainstream and four special schools, we consider ourselves veterans in that universal effort all parents engage in — supporting our kids to become happy, productive adults. Our youngest child has now spent two years at Eaton Arrowsmith Learning Centre. Having entered the program at the vulnerable age of thirteen, with multiple learning issues and significant baggage as a result of having tried hard to plug her personal learning style into an intransigent system, our daughter is truly enjoying school for the first time in her life. She has not only strengthened her learning capacities through the cognitive exercises, and realized that she enjoys mathematics, but the support that the remarkable staff at Eaton Arrowsmith gives the ‘whole student’ has also strengthened our daughter’s self esteem and her social capacity, as well as broadening her philosophy of life. She has learned that she CAN learn.

Testimonial from the parents of a male grade 3 student

Our son is happy at school.  For many 10 year old children this is an obvious statement.  For us, it is profoundly important and something we thought might not ever happen.

He spent 3 years at a local school, struggling greatly to learn in a traditional teaching environment and coming to the belief that he was not like the other children.  Grade 2 was particularly difficult as he watched his friends forge ahead, while he could not make sense of anything going on around him.  Needless to say, his self-esteem took a terrible tumble and he was such an unhappy boy. In Grade 3 we enrolled him in a school for children with learning disabilities.  Here, he began to learn some coping and compensation strategies and improved in reading, writing and arithmetic. However, we realized that the school was not addressing all his learning needs and there were still large gaps between what was being provided to him and what he needed.  Also, he still was not happy at school and his self esteem didn’t really improve over the year.

During our son’s Grade 3 year, we heard about the Arrowsmith program and Eaton Arrowsmith Learning Centre.  We sensed from our first encounters with the school administration and staff that this might be the school and the program for our son.  We had a feeling of greater possibilities for him, particularly that a wider spectrum of his learning needs would be addressed and that he perhaps wouldn’t need to go through life having to always compensate for his particular learning style. We enrolled our son at Eaton Arrowsmith starting in fall 2006 and we must say that Nathan has blossomed in ways that perhaps, deep inside of us as parents, we had begun to despair of ever being possible.  We can see many results of the strengthening of his cognitive capacities after a first year with the Arrowsmith program.  Now, at home, our son picks up books and reads them on his own.  He reads newspapers.  He can write much more without becoming tired.  We can read his writing.  His stories have more sophisticated plot and character development.  He does math in his head.  His vocabulary is steadily growing.  Some of his behavior traits that medical professionals classify as symptoms of ADD or ADHD have become less obvious.  Also, perhaps most importantly, our son’s self esteem has improved so much. He loves his school.   He wakes up each morning eager to go to school, even to the extent of periodically emailing his teachers to send him the spelling list for the week, and wanting to go to the 3 week school camp offered in summer 2007.  Each day we drop him off, the principal and several teachers are at the door, greeting the children by name.  He has made some good friends.   All students at the school are honored and celebrated for the unique individuals that they are.

There is still a ways to go for our son, but we really feel he’s on a road that is right for him.  We intend to keep our son in the Arrowsmith program for the recommended number of years, and we know he wouldn’t want it any other way.

Testimonial from the parents of a male grade 8 student

My son, has always struggled in school.  When he was young, he couldn’t sit still and would often be sent out into the hall because his teacher didn’t have the time or energy to deal with him.  The school decided that his “attention” problems were the source of his academic problems, and it was suggested that he be assessed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  At this point we have told that he should be on Ritalin (or some similar medication).  I had trouble with this diagnosis as it didn’t quite fit with what I knew of my son.  At that point we pulled him out of public school tried home schooling and having him attend a small independent school.  In both of these situations, he would often be frustrated and upset when doing his work – he wouldn’t understand the task or just couldn’t complete it.  This lack of ability to complete his school work mystified both his teachers and me.  My son is a very articulate person and able to express himself verbally with ease, however when it came to writing things down he struggled incredibly.  In addition, his reading skills were very poor.  He was told by some teachers that he was lazy, and just needed to focus more on his work.  I remember towards the end of each term, I would have to keep him home for a few days just to let him relax and to decrease his stress level.

By Christmas 2004, it became evident to me that school was not working and I resolved to do something to help my son.  I decided that my first step was to talk to a professional – the professional I chose was Howard Eaton.  Prior to talking to Howard, I had been trying to figure this out by myself, but it was becoming apparent that I needed some help if I was to find the right learning environment for my son.  Howard told me of a new school he was starting in September 2005 based on a school that is running in Toronto.  I was very wary of the theory behind the success of this school but felt that I was pretty much out of options and, that it was not my life, it was my son’s, so I decided that he should help us make the decision to attend Eaton Arrowsmith.  I also knew that the type of work was very, very hard for kids and, if my son was going to get the most out of this school, he should be the one who decides whether he should attend or not.  He attended an information session with me and felt like it was something that he would like to try.  We could not afford the school, so we took out a loan to pay for the enrollment.

Having our son attend Eaton Arrowsmith (EA) was one of the best decisions we have made for him. There are some things in a child’s life that you look back on and say “yes, that definitely got them on the right track” – and EAS was one of those experiences for us.  So much of a child’s sense of self comes out of their experience at school – whether they were popular, criticized, supported or ridiculed.  EAS gave my son everything he needed to be successful – academically they understood him and could support him in his areas of frustration and struggle, socially they supported him and encouraged him and his classmates to work together and support each other.  EAS seems to attract the most amazing teachers – all of my son’s teachers were so caring and considerate of his needs that he couldn’t help but feel supported by them.  Indeed, when I ask him what he will miss the most about EAS he says his teachers.

Our experience with EAS has been nothing but wonderful.  Prior to going to EA, my son had never had a successful year at school.  My son attended EAS for grades 7 and 8.  Both of these years were very successful for him.  He went into EAS thinking he was stupid and a problem student.  He leaves knowing that he is smart and an all round great guy.  My son went into EAS with some serious problems with his reading and writing skills.  This past year he was one of the best students in English!  What a wonderful surprise for all of us!  My son graduated from the program in June 2007 and I still get teary just thinking about that day.

I will be forever grateful to the teachers and staff at EAS for creating a place where my son could be understood and supported to be all he can be.  EAS definitely helped my son with his academic skills, but beyond that the school gave him so much more that we had originally banked on.

Thank-you, thank-you – from the bottom of my heart.

EAS Parent, PhD.

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