Everything you need to know

From EA to Traditional School and Beyond

Posted on December 10, 2015


Parents often have one question on their minds as their child’s time at EA comes to a close: I see so much progress, but what will my son or daughter be like when he or she is back in a mainstream classroom?

Parents remember how painful life was before EA: the hours of homework, upset, worry, and the sadness of watching their child’s confidence vanish.

While no amount of progress can erase those memories, Eaton Arrowsmith does everything it can to set each student on a path to success.

“We’ve helped more than 300 children return to traditional schools over the past decade,” says Simon Hayes, principal of Eaton Arrowsmith Vancouver. “We’ve also had the privilege of staying in touch with them and hearing about the amazing accomplishments that continue, even years later!”

Preparing for Change

Students are ready to leave EA when they reach the social, emotional, cognitive, executive functioning and academic goals that were set in their first years.

The Arrowsmith Programming Assessment – administered to all children upon enrollment – determines a student’s starting point and end goals.

“The assessment guides all reason to be at the school, but we also consider a student’s academic and social readiness to transition,” Hayes says.

Student progress is reevaluated every year and, by December, teachers know which students are nearing the end of their programs. Families are then notified, giving parents ample time to prepare for their child’s return to a mainstream public or private school.

“We have the whole last term to make plans,” Hayes says, explaining that families need time to visit schools, decide if they’re going to move closer to their child’s new school, determine if the school in their catchment is a good fit, and prepare emotionally.

A shift in expectations is a big part of the transition process for children and their parents. While it is important for students to have support as they make the change, EA suggests parents step back and give them the opportunity to use their newfound strengths.

“Now that the cognitive basket has been created, it’s time to watch the child fill it with life experiences and academics,” Hayes says. “They have the ability to remember and process information with far greater depth and ease.”

Team Effort

Families are excited when a child is given the green light to return to a traditional classroom. It’s a sign of progress.

Students experience some nervousness about next steps, as they think about returning to a new school or one they struggled at in the past, but this is normal.

“Credits are a concern for high school students,” Hayes says, however there are many ways for students to catch up, graduate, and get into colleges and universities. “For younger kids, it can be the social worry of stepping back into school and making new friends.”

Regardless of age, EA’s principals, teachers and program coordinators recommend a team approach to give students time to adjust and see their cognitive changes in action.

Hayes suggests high school students be mindful of their course loads in the first semester and hire tutors even if they think they don’t need them.

It can take time for students to catch up academically because learning difficulties prevented them from understanding concepts in the past. But they now have the ability to learn and get up to speed with their peers because of their time at EA.

“Overcompensate with tutors in the beginning to help fill the gaps, and to build confidence,” Hayes says. “You can always scale back.”

EA staff members often meet with teachers at a student’s new school to explain the Arrowsmith Program and child’s learning needs. Parents are also encouraged to actively engage with their son or daughter’s new teachers.

“To bridge the relationship between home and school, we recommend parents get involved at the next school to help teachers better understand their child’s learning needs,” Hayes says.

Overall, the goal is to ease students back into a traditional learning environment where they can comfortably put their new cognitive strengths to the test.

“Plan ahead, be realistic and patient, and keep a positive attitude,” Hayes says. “Our students go on to do great things, but sometimes you have to give them time – time to feel confident and secure in their new environment, and to fill their cognitive baskets with academic and social knowledge.”

Here’s a brief overview of the transition process:

Notification of Program Completion

Parents are notified by December 1st if their child is in the final semester of his/her program at EA. This gives families a whole term to prepare.

Getting Ready for Change

In the final months of a student’s time at EA, families should do the following:

  • Visit schools (pick a selection that matches the interests/needs of the student. Go to their open houses to see what they offer and determine pros and cons).
  • Assess if they’re going to move away from Vancouver (especially if they moved to the city to attend EA).
  • Decide if the school in their catchment fits their needs.
  • Prepare emotionally for the transition. EA helps each student get ready to transition to a new, different environment. Preparation often includes transition classes and increased academics at EA or via neighbourhood resources.

For more information, please visit the EA transition page.

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