Program for children who have learning disabilities ‘nothing short of amazing’
A year ago when Georgetown Christian District School began looking into offering the Arrowsmith Program, Ray Rodenburgh says his son Luke would pray each night that would happen.
At the time, Luke was in his Grade 5 school year and attending the Arrowsmith School in Toronto.
For Grades 3 and 4, Luke attended Guelph Community Christian School and received resource help, but still struggled. Every morning he didn’t want to get out of the car and go to school, though he was very socially adjusted.
When Luke told his parents he didn’t want to go to school on his last day of Grade 4 because he knew Grade 5 was coming, they started looking for some different options.
Ray searched schools across North America online and came across the Arrowsmith School in Toronto. They started looking into the school and visited the Toronto location.
Luke watched a video on the school’s website three times before seeing the school, and told his older sister that was where he was going in September, says Ray.
The Arrowsmith Program offers the cognitive exercise methodology that deals with the underlying causes of learning disabilities. Based on the principle of neuroplasticity — that the brain can change and develop new functions and roles — the program consists in large part of repetitive, cognitive exercises designed to strengthen the weak capacities of the brain underlying the learning dysfunctions.
The program is generally three-to-four years and the student is then able to return to a full academic program. Ray compares it to a gym, the more time spent working at it, the quicker the results.
The family was so sure the school was right for Luke that Ray rented a downtown apartment for them to stay in during the week. On weekends they would travel home to Rockwood.
Instantly when Luke started going to Arrowsmith he enjoyed school more, Ray says.
Luke is doing much better at writing, has good comprehension and reading. He recently spontaneously started cursive writing “in such exact detail, his penmanship is unbelievable,” says Ray.
One of Luke’s friends attends Georgetown District Christian School and his father is on staff. After noticing the changes in Luke the staff member sparked interest from Georgetown to look into the program and decided to take it on.
Ray offered to help advertise for Georgetown, as it helped them avoid paying downtown Toronto rent which “was a fortune.”
Georgetown opened its Arrowsmith Program in September 2008. There are 10 students in a class, with two classes currently running and more students on a waiting list.
“I really feel the Georgetown school was very proactive and forward-thinking and took a real fall-out approach to it,” says Ray.
“We really appreciate that school and the board, they did their homework and they moved on things, which is really nice for us because we didn’t have to spend another year in Toronto,” he says.
“We’ve really become big proponents of the program,” says Ray. “Every student will benefit a little differently, but every student will benefit, but to what extent that sometimes is not quite clear, all I can tell you is it’s nothing short of amazing.”
Ray attends the same church as Bob Moore, principal at Guelph Community Christian School, and through conversation Moore also became very interested in the program. The school has since opened enrolment for the program.
Ray attended Guelph Community Christian School’s Jan. 13 open house and helped provide answers to other interested parents. He says he will certainly continue to help the school, and says he thinks Guelph will also end up with a waiting list.
“Would I do it again? For sure, in a heartbeat,” he says.
To learn more about the Arrowsmith Program, visit www.arrowsmithschool.org.
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