Welcome to Steve's Class
I am excited to be a central part of your student's education during my 25th year at The Children's House. Please reach out to me if you feel there is anything I could do to support your child more. I'd enjoy hearing from you.
"The arts, sciences, humanities, physical education, languages and maths all have equal and central contributions to make to a student's education." ~Sir Ken Robinson
Steve Maas, Physical Education, Della Terra
B.A. Spring Arbor University, Family Life Education
AMS Primary Certification
The Children's House experience (1992- present):
Physical Education Specialist
May 25, 2017
As the end of the school year comes near, I'd like to thank all of you for allowing me to do what I love everyday with your children. The CDC says physical education,"Helps build and maintain healthy bones and muscles." Helps reduce the risk of developing obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colon cancer. Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and promotes psychological well-being. May help improve students’ academic performance, including academic achievement and grades, academic behavior, such as time on task and factors that influence academic achievement, such as concentration and attentiveness in the classroom." What I know is that most of your children think it is fun. I hope that they develop habits that will keep them active for a lifetime as well as developing better social emotional skills they can use well beyond the gym.
May 11, 2017
The upper elementary students have been playing a bit of baseball/softball these past few days. I have a few gloves but they are welcome to bring one from home as if they'd like. I don't intend to have them all playing at a high level but as with all of the sports I introduce throughout the year, I expect they will have a basic understanding of the rules and equipment used for the game.
We had a nice discussion earlier this week in all of the different groups around the purpose of physical education. My goal is to let students acquire knowledge and skills and other things such as values and enthusiasm to maintain a healthy lifestyle up to their old age. I hope that all of our students can find an activity or activities that they enjoy enough to keep themselves active over a lifetime. As we know, the chosen activity may change over time for many people but I like to present physical activity in the same light as brushing your teeth, something that would feel strange to skip as part of a regular routine. So if baseball/softball is not their currently sport of choice I hope that a with a basic understanding of the game maybe one day they may feel confident enough to revisit it.
April 27, 2017
Students of all ages have been practicing overhand throwing and catching using various games over the past few weeks. I have also tried to incorporate more character skills practice with the games. Recently we've worked on self-control as it relates to school work. The parts of this are, coming to class prepared (proper footwear...), remembering and following directions, and paying attention while resisting distraction. I believe this character skill and others can be strengthened with practice when given instruction and feedback. I've noticed tremendous growth by many students over this school year as I hope you have as well. If you'd like to read more about character strengths I highly recommend looking into Angela Duckworth and her work with the Character Lab.
April 13, 2017
These past few weeks I've been enjoying my time outside in the garden with DiAnn and the Della Terra group. I feel fortunate that we prioritized the garden curriculum fifteen years ago. The children love growing food and flowers and working on projects to beautify their school grounds. What they might not realize is the positive impact the work is having on their attitude toward nutrition and science. Several studies have found that children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Children involved in school gardening programs have been shown to have higher scores on science achievement tests according to many other studies. I tell you all of this not just because I enjoy reading research in the areas of children's health, nutrition, and physical activity but more importantly because I want to thank you for supporting our focus on the outdoor environment and gardening with your children. If you have time in the next few weeks stop in the greenhouse and take a look at what your children have been working on.
March 23, 2017
We've spent the past weeks working on sport stacking (also known as cup stacking or speed stacking). The kids use specially cups to stack in predetermined sequences as quickly as possible. They compete against one another and the clock. They work on cooperation, ambidexterity and hand- eye coordination. The sport has continued to grow since it was introduced in the early 1980s and was featured on Johnny Carson in 1990. The sequencing and patterning skills required can help with reading and math skills while providing a fun way to compete and stay fit. If you are interested in learning more about speed stacks check you some of their videos on their website or youtube or better yet stop in some day and join us.
March 9, 2017
This week I am lucky enough to accompany the sixth year students to New York City and attend the Montessori Model United Nations conference. The conference is attended by approximately 2000 Montessori students from around the world. This is the third time I've been here and I still get goose bumps when I walk into the UN general assembly. The students have worked all year studying Venezuela and the Venezuelan point of view on the world's problems. I am proud to help them represent our school at this tremendous event. If you have time check out the MMUN website and the short video from last year which includes some of our past students. Video link here.
February 23, 2017
Last week we had a chance to hold our Jump Rope For Heart event on Tuesday. It was so much fun for me to watch the students of all ages jump rope together and share what they know about the heart. If you and your child decided to donate to the Heart Association the thank you gifts will be here in about six weeks. Your child has been made aware of this but I wanted you to know as well. I'll try my best to be sure that everyone gets the thank you gifts they have earned but please let me know if you are missing anything after spring break. As a school we raised over $4,000 with a few donations still rolling in. Over the past 12 years we are nearing $35,000, I am proud to support the American Heart Association and thank you for your help with this. If you haven't already, please ask your children to fill you in on a few of the things they know about their heart.
February 9, 2017
We've spent a lot of time the past week practicing jump rope skills. As I hope you are aware, we will be supporting the American Heart Association on February 14th. I've invited the students kindergarten through eighth grade to come together and jump rope for half an hour that day. I've tried to share information about heart function and health as we have gone through the week. I have been impressed with the interest the students have shown. Most of us know someone effected by heart disease and I hope to help the students know ways to keep their heart healthy. If you have any questions for me, please be in touch. If you would like more information about the American Heart Association this website is a good resource for parents, http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/General/For-Parents-Jump-Rope-For-Heart_UCM_312492_Article.jsp#.WJogdYgrLnA
Thank you for your support.
January 26, 2017
Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed practicing yoga once a week with the Junior High group. We've been lucky enough to have a parent volunteer to lead us for six Friday's and have been able to pick up a few poses that can be adapted for the younger students as well. If you have a skill or interest you are interested in sharing I'd love to talk about we can make it happen. I try to keep myself up to date and learn new things and am always looking for more ways for children to be active.
On the topic of staying up to date, I have just finished a book titled The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children,. In it author and developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik discusses how we are raising our children in the 21st century. As long as humans have been around we have taken care of our children but according to Merriam-Webster the word "parenting" did not appear until 1958 and was not common until the 1970's. Kids may not need as much direct instruction as they sometimes receive, my kids would surly agree. Gopnik encourages parents to help children grow like a gardener might, without a finished product in mind like a carpenter would have for a building project. I found this book helpful and would enjoy discussing it, I would me happy to loan my copy anytime.
January 12, 2017
The winter seems to be going well in the gym. Your students come in each day with great attitudes and ready to get moving. I have been using physical activities in the gym to talk a bit about two more character strengths, kindness and bravery. Physical bravery is easiest to identify in the gym but we've also explored moral bravery, standing up for what is right even if it's difficult. I've enjoined overhearing conversations about bravery as they leave the gym or in the hallways these past couple of days.
Several new students have joined the primary classrooms, some new to the school some have moved up from the toddler community. It has been nice getting to know these children as they make their way to the gym a few times over the last week or so. I look forward to meeting some of their parents at the upcoming school carnival on Saturday, the 21st
December 1, 2016
We have been using some of my time with your children to practice a few specific life skills, respecting the rights and feelings of others and helping others. As you may have heard me say in the past, I feel that physical education and games provide the ideal place to work on these and other character skills. I talk to the children about the benefit of practice when learning a new physical skill such as dribbling a basketball, it is easy then to extend the value of practice to working on self-control and compassion. Practicing these skills leads directly to being respectful and helpful. I think talking about our children developing character skills rather that character traits is helpful, a skill can be improved a trait is fixed. I am hopeful that a bit of what we do in the gym, physical skills as well as character skills , make their way into your child's everyday life here at school and beyond.
November 10, 2016
This past week we received a gift from the Traverse Bay Area Youth Soccer (TBAYS), we were given two 21'x7' goals. Taylor Vancil, classroom assistant in primary, also works for TBAYS and coordinated the donation when she found out the goals were available. I am very happy to have these and I know your children are as well. TBAYS has just over 2000 participants many of whom are Children's House students. If you get a chance, please take time to thanks Taylor or any other TBAYS staff members. As you may know soccer is the worlds most popular sport and is growing every day in the United States. Just a few of the many benefits of soccer are increased aerobic capacity and cardiovascular health, increased muscle and bone strength, coordination, teamwork and sharing. Thank you TBAYS and Taylor.
October 27, 2016
I am a part of a professional organization called the society of health and physical educators (SHAPE America). I was glad to read in their 2016 report, Shape of the Nation, that more schools are requiring daily physical education for their students. As a nation we are up to 4% of elementary schools and 8% of middle schools offering daily year long P.E.. The same report found that 95% of parents think that P.E. should be a part of the curriculum for all students K-12. Each time I read the updated statistics I'm glad the numbers continue to rise while also being proud that we have not changed our policy in 15 years. With daily PE, we can keep kids’ hearts healthy and their minds in gear to do their best at school. The fact is, active kids learn better and the benefits don’t end there. Physical education has positive impacts on their physical, mental, and emotional health. Thank you for your continued support of what I believe is a vital part of your child's day.
October 13, 2016
The elementary students have been spending some time over the past weeks practicing juggling. After a lot of work, several of the upper elementary students have been able to switch from scarves to balls. Juggling helps to develop the obvious skills of hand-eye coordination, ambidexterity, rhythm and reflexes. Possibly more importantly it may help to develop patience, persistence and self-discipline all of which are important skills to be used outside of the gym. It has been fun to watch a students face light up when they realize that after several days of struggle that they are actually juggling. I think juggling provides sequential problems that require students to slow down, focus on one task and screen out distractions all while learning that failure is part of the process and that perseverance can lead to success. I know the skills learned in the gym are just a small part of your child's day at school but I hope that some of the time spent with me has a wider application. If you are a juggler, no matter what level, we would love to have you come in some day and join us for some fun.
September 29, 2016
Rugby has been an area of focus recently with the elementary students. We play a flag version of rugby which turns out to be a great way for most of the group to be highly involved and develop teamwork skills. It is nice to see the cooperation and understanding of differing skills that takes place each day as they learn. All of the age groups have been practicing jump rope. The extended day group are just beginning to get the hang of it while the oldest children are working on prior skills and learning new tricks. Jumping rope for 10 minutes is approximately equal to running 8 minute miles for 30 minutes and some would say is even more fun. Whether your child becomes a lover of rugby and/or jumping rope, it is not very important to me. What is important is that they begin to feel the benefit of daily physical activity and develop a love of an active lifestyle.
September 15, 2016
For the first few weeks the elementary students have been setting up expectations for themselves and one another. After several rounds of discussion, either before or after their daily exercise, they come up with a document which all of them have signed. This will serve as a guideline for the year. They have agreed to do their best to be respectful, honest, helpful, safe and cooperative among other things. The signed copy will be available each day during p.e. as a reference for anyone needing a reminder from me or a classmate. It is my hope that this will inspire, motivate and challenge the students while in the gym and beyond.
We are glad to be able schedule one hour for groups of three and four old children in the gym each day. In the past, we have only had thirty minuets each day for this age group. Adding the extra time should allow each child to come down at least twice weekly. As we all know more movement for children is a good thing.