Occupational therapist Jan Z. Olsen is the founder and developer of the Handwriting Without Tears® program. The curriculum is the culmination of successes over the past 30 years, plus many new ideas from collaborations with teachers, occupational therapists, and administrators across the country. Understanding the challenges in the classroom and the gaps in educational offerings, Jan and her staff work to create materials and books that meet educators’ needs in a way that is fun and engaging, while developmentally appropriate and effective for all students.
Jan co-created the Get Set for School® Pre-K program in 2003, with Emily Knapton, Occupational Therapist, M.Ed. in Elementary Education with a dual endorsement in SPED and Early Childhood Education and a Graduate Certificate in autism. Get Set for School is an award-winning complete school readiness program that prepares young children for kindergarten using play-based, developmentally appropriate activities and materials. It won two of the most prestigious national education awards: The Children’s Curriculum Winner from the Association for Educational Publishers and The Teacher’s Choice Award from Learning Magazine.
Each year, Jan leads a team of certified presenters that deliver over 500 Get Set for School and Handwriting Without Tears workshops to train teachers, therapists, administrators, and parents to teach handwriting and school readiness skills. These dynamic presentations are widely regarded as the most inspiring and relevant professional development opportunities available to educators.
National media, including Newsweek, “CBS Evening News”, National Public Radio, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Enquirer, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Miami Herald, the Los Angeles Times, Parents, and Parenting have tapped Jan’s expertise. She has been featured in trade magazines, such as OT Practice and OT Advance. Jan has presented at numerous conferences, including the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), International Dyslexia Association (IDA), and the National Autism Association. Many homeschooling resources have named Handwriting Without Tears the best handwriting curriculum for their families.
Jan Olsen resides in Bethesda, Maryland.