Skip to main content

Schools provide report cards to parents as a means of tracking how well their children are performing academically. But when students struggle, those reports are not designed to help parents identify the reasons for the difficulties. And without knowing the nature of the underlying problem, a solution is difficult to find.

Anne Marie Bakke faced this challenge as she searched for ways to help her son and to explain why he was struggling throughout elementary school. He had received special education support to accommodate his learning difficulties for years. Anne Marie wanted to find a solution to those difficulties, not simply work around them. In addition, the approaches that the school used to help with the learning difficulties hadn't improved the situation.

“Accommodations may help the student get through the school day; however, they don't address the source of the learning difficulties and can often negatively affect the child's self-esteem,” she says.

While looking for ways to help her son, Anne Marie came across the Arrowsmith School and its online questionnaire, which, upon completion, gave her insight into her son's challenges and his cognitive strengths and weaknesses. At last, presenting a reason why certain tasks were easy for him while others felt almost impossible.

She was so struck by the questionnaire’s ability to define her son’s struggles, the family travelled to Toronto for their son to take part in the Cognitive Intensive Program. Here, he also received a full assessment from the Arrowsmith School’s psychometrist.


“The assessment puts all the pieces together,” says Anne Marie. “In front of us we had a report that was a map of his strengths and weaknesses, his unique learning profile. The Arrowsmith assessment gave us the insight we needed to better understand our son's challenges.”


After the Cognitive Intensive Program, and based on the assessment, Anne Marie and her son moved from Norway to Toronto for the year so that her son could attend Arrowsmith School, where each student has a unique program based on the assessment and focused on the cognitive areas that need strengthening.

“The unique approach at Arrowsmith not only increased my son's cognitive capacity, it strengthened his self-esteem, increased his motivation, and gave him daily experiences of mastery and progression. For all of this and more, we are very grateful for the Arrowsmith Program.”


Donna Bell experienced similar frustrations trying to identify her son’s challenges. At five years old, she watched him begin to fall behind the other students in his class. She completed Arrowsmith’s questionnaire and found the results eye-opening. The experience motivated her to bring her son to the Arrowsmith School for a full assessment.

“When we did the assessment, they identified that he was challenged in 10 of the 19 cognitive functions,” she says. “It’s unique, untraditional, but it delves into the human as a whole person, and I think that goes beyond a grade that someone is going to get.”

Donna enrolled her son in the Arrowsmith School in Toronto to participate in a customized program of cognitive exercises as well as daily lessons of English and mathematics.


“When he walked out four years later, he walked into his class in Grade 5 and needed no accommodations in school,” she says. “What came out after four years was a confident, bright, successful boy who was ready to take on the world... this school, I will forever be in their debt.”


Every parent of a child struggling at school is looking for answers. Identifying your child’s learning profile of strengths and weaknesses is the first step in finding a solution, to put your child on a path of learning grounded in competence and filled with confidence.

Arrowsmith sees your child for who they are, and who they can be. Imagine your child learning with ease, confidence, and joy.

Take the first step: Identify your child's cognitive strengths and weaknesses by filling out our online questionnaire at

Barbara Arrowsmith-Young
Post by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young
July 28, 2021
Barbara Arrowsmith-Young is the international best-selling author of The Woman Who Changed her Brain, which is her remarkable story and that of the work that evolved from this. Though she began life with severe learning disabilities, she built herself a better brain and developed the Arrowsmith Program, which has helped thousands of others to do the same.

Read Related Blog Posts