Our Kids Canada's Private School Guide

19th Annual

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54 Our Kids C anada's Private School Guide – 19th Annual Edition CONQUERING LEARNING DIFFICULTIES P arents of children with learn ing difficulties often struggle with one key question: can I keep my child in their home school, or do I need to find a school that specializes in special needs educa tion? While traditional schools offer a number of options for extra help— including support staff and resource classes—depending on the complex ity of the learning challenge, this support may not be enough. Toronto educational consultant Elaine Danson says the first step to determining the best educational en vironment for a child with learning difficulties is to identify the gaps in the child's learning. "Every school has extra resources," she says, but just because a family likes their child's current school doesn't mean that school is the right place for the identified three different schools, each with a unique approach. THE SCIENCE OF NEUROPLASTICITY The Arrowsmith approach is based on the science of neuroplasticity and the belief that the brain can change. "We operate under the premise that the learner is not fixed, but the learner is able to grow and to change," says Rose McLachlan, admissions direc tor at the Eaton Arrowsmith School. Students are assessed through six to eight hours of cognitive testing that identifies the parts of their brain that are weak compared to students of the same age and are offered a targeted program to strengthen these areas. Each student is assigned different cognitive exercises, which they per child. "Sometimes what can be of fered in the school isn't enough to fill the gap fast enough," says Danson. A Grade 5 child reading at a Grade 1 level, for example, will struggle to catch up in a traditional school system where they may receive any where between one hour a day to a halfday of remedial study. Selecting the right type of educa tion for a child with learning dif ficulties means looking at academic gains, how content and accom plished the child feels in the school, and whether the child is getting the most out of their time spent in the classroom. "If any of those aren't working, then you need to look at other options," says Danson. Those options may include schools that spe cialize in edu cation for children with learning difficulties. Here, we've Does your child need a special needs school?

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