Thursday, 24 November 2011

Handwriting without Tears

A program developed by occupational therapist Jan Z.Olsen. According to the LinkedIn website,, Jan responded to her son John’s tears over handwriting in first grade: in 1977 Jan Olsen set out on a mission to help her son. Jan used her occupational therapy training and background to develop strategies to facilitate his handwriting. John’s teacher noticed his progress and asked Jan to help other students in the class. Soon Jan became known in the area as the tutoring solution for handwriting, and her ideas became the basis for the first therapists’ guide, Handwriting Without Tears®.

"Handwriting is so important, it's the primary means (with which) ... students really display their knowledge....if students don't have legeble handwriting it really impacts across the board as a student."  OTR/L  (Occupational Therapist, Licensed)

"Everyone needs to be able to write legibly, neatly and quickly." OTR/L (Occupational Therapist, Registered, Licensed)

"It's not just for special needs students, it's for every student."

The program involves starting young students with wooden pieces that form letters, then progressing to 'Mat Man', then the wet dry slate -where a letter is traced by chalk and then erased using a sponge repeating the same physical  motion (kinetics) - and finally a  'Get Set for School' sing along music CD. A multisensory approach encompassing a joyfull introduction to letters is the focus of this No Tears program. Older students learn how to print and write in cursive with the help of carefully designed workbooks that use 'child friendly' language. In the States, where this program was initiated, many schools are using it and finding it cost effective at $5.00 per student. It is noted that the cost of this school-wide program more than pays for itself by reducing the need for and costs associated with evaluations, referrals and individualized remediation programs.
Handwriting Without Tears website:

Developing Body Awareness: Building and Drawing Mat Man

Wet Dry Slate usage