Strengthening your child's brain at Eaton Arrowsmith School

"When I was diagnosed with dyslexia in the seventies, I was teased relentlessly,” says Howard Eaton, founder and director of Eaton Arrowsmith School (EA). “I was the boy who couldn't read."

After working hard to receive a BA in psychology from the University of British Columbia and a M.Ed. in special education from Boston University, Eaton met Barbara Arrowsmith-Young, creator of the Arrowsmith Program.

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"I recalled my initial hesitation upon hearing about this program that claimed to strengthen cognitive weaknesses,” Eaton says. “I went through graduate school believing the brain was fixed. The idea of neuroplasticity—that the brain could be challenged to improve over time with targeted exercises—felt disconnected from my normal reality."

At the time, Eaton worked as an Orton-Gillingham tutor and taught the structure of the English language to children with dyslexia. But while he could teach students to read and spell correctly, he realized underlying neurological issues still caused them to struggle in the classroom.

The more he researched and talked to Arrowsmith-Young, the more Eaton realized how an improved cognitive or neurological capacity could change a child’s life.

"At that point, I knew I had to bring the Arrowsmith Program to Vancouver," Eaton explains.

The Arrowsmith Program is designed to be both challenging and success-oriented. By completing cognitive exercises that target specific areas of the brain, children work to strengthen weaknesses that cause their learning disabilities.

"I believe this is the education method of the future," Eaton says. "We may actually be doing an injustice with all the support we give to individuals with learning disabilities. It sounds harsh, but perhaps we need to rethink what we're doing and focus on improving a child's neurological development in a safe and supportive environment. It could be critical for their success in life."

The Arrowsmith Program is based on the premise that you need to challenge the brain to strengthen and increase neurological connections.

"Learning disability educators typically focus on making activities and tasks easier for children," Eaton notes. "They offer learning assistance and technological accommodations to help them compete in a regular classroom environment. However, to improve neurological function, we have to make things more challenging."

For more information about Eaton Arrowsmith School or the Arrowsmith Program, call 604.538.1710, email, visit the website at, or take an interactive tour of one of our schools. Eaton Arrowsmith can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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