This week’s Smarty Mom was “mominated” by Wooten Schmitz, owner of The Milky Way Store on East Boulevard. Here’s Wooten:
“Mary Howard Shaw is a mom’s mom. She’s what we all aspire to be as mothers — caring, patient, observant, smart, talented. Her four lovely children — three boys and a girl — are great students, wonderful athletes and all-around good citizens. And they are all of these things without being micro-managed and over-worked. She really has figured out to nurture her children’s talents and aspirations to their potential. Honestly, it would be tempting to be jealous of her if it weren’t for the grace and generosity she brings to her role as super mom. I’ve known Mary Howard for quite a while. She was one of our first customers at The Milky Way and her adorable son William was my daughter Josephine’s first pre-school crush. Knowing all I do about her as a parent, I was really excited when she told me about her new career as a literacy consultant. Before leaving the workforce to raise her own children, she was a classroom teacher and a reading/writing specialist with CMS. Now she is applying her educational background and her hard-earned knowledge as a parent to a new endeavor — supporting children, parents and teachers at home and in the classroom with the tools they need for life-long literacy and love of learning.”
Mary Howard’s Smarty Mom Stats:
Mom of: Alan (10), Jack (9), William (6), and Ruthie (3)
Married to: Alan (a Charlotte native), for 12 years
Years in Charlotte: 15
Let’s meet Mary Howard!
Tell us about your literacy consulting services and what ages you work with.
I support parents, teachers, and students in literacy education. I work with parents in home consultation or workshop settings. For those with infants through preschool age, I help with educational organization at home and guiding parents’ understanding of how early literacy is shaped by the home environment and daily routines. For parents of beginner readers, I share information and helpful strategies to encourage skill development and a love of reading. For parents of independent readers, I assess students in reading to provide specific feedback and suggested strategies for improvement. For children of varying ages I offer summer literacy enrichment opportunities. I also lead staff development for preschool educators to help them better understand the developmental continuum of literacy growth and how to implement research-supported practices in the classroom.
Tell us about your Beginner Reader Workshops and how did you get started?
It pays to listen to your good friends. One of mine called a year ago and convinced me that I had expertise to share – she asked me to help organize her children’s space and to discuss daily routines that support learning. She really wanted to know how I was managing the afternoons and evenings with so many different ages at my house. For those of us with elementary age children AND preschoolers, after school time can be a bit dicey. When we had our first appointment, the conversation naturally turned to literacy (my masters is in literacy education) and I answered her questions about the early reading process and made book suggestions for her two children. So that is truly how it all started…not long after working with my friend I developed a workshop to specifically address a hot topic for parents: how do kids learn to read and what can we do to support that process at home? The workshop and my overall consulting business is truly a marriage between my professional experience as a teacher and my 10 years at home raising kids.
What is the best age to start these practices and how do we sign up for your workshop?
My next workshop, “Helping Your Beginner Reader at Home,” is this coming Tuesday, Nov. 16th, from 7 to 8:30 at Myers Park Country Club. For registration information and further details, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org by this Monday, Nov. 15th. If you cannot attend this workshop but would like to be on the distribution list for the next one, send me a request via email. This workshop is intended for parents of beginner readers or parents with children nearing that stage. The general range is preschool 3’s, 4’s, TK, K and 1st grade.
What is your best tip for new parents to get a child to start to read?
Read to them early and often from a variety of sources: picture books, nursery rhymes, nonfiction, poetry, cereal boxes – you name it! I also believe that when parents understand the stages of literacy development they are better able to support their child in becoming an independent reader and writer.
What Smarty tips can you offer to other Smarty Mompreneurs looking to start their own business?
Be open to what those close to you recognize as your talent. Sometimes moms get tunnel vision (imagine that) and we need a fresh perspective. When you do get an idea, ask other smart people LOTS of questions.
What is your favorite family activity?
Hmmm…I would like to say hiking, which is our favorite mountain vacation activity to do together, but since that only happens about twice a year, I will go with what we do every weekend – pack up the crew and head to the ball fields. I have an enormous bag, ala Mary Poppins, and somehow it holds enough toys, snacks and treats to get us all through multiple baseball games.
What is your favorite “me” activity?
Exercise. I am a recovering runner (MRI says no more), but I also love yoga and pilates.
Favorite lunch spot sans kids?
Something Classic. They have my favorite ice tea and small little treats to sample, which is always a homerun. My fave is the tomato Florentine soup.
Favorite place to bring the whole fam to dinner?
My kitchen. With a crew my size and a 3-yr-old in the mix, going out to dinner can be a nightmare, not to mention expensive. We usually cook at home or grab occasional take-out.
Favorite date-night spot?
Fiamma Italian restaurant on Park Rd. Fabulous food and tasty red wine at a great price.
Favorite holiday tradition?
We have a collection of Christmas books that come down from the attic with our decorations each year, and most nights in Advent we sit by the tree and read aloud a favorite book. The children take turns selecting the book, and we try not to repeat until we have been through them all.
Favorite place to buy kids clothes & shoes?
I hit Target for most of the basics. I also find great things at a neighborhood consignment sale. When needing a special item I go to Fancy Pants.
Best book you’ve read lately?
The Attentive Life, by Leighton Ford
Best birthday party you’ve attended/hosted?
My surprise 30th in NYC.
Minivan or SUV?
Minivan. I’m a practical gal, and a big fan of doors that slide open with a button.
Favorite Smarty phone app?
Facebook. If it weren’t for my blackberry app, I would never touch facebook.
Favorite thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
2 hours to the mountains, 3½ to the beach.
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
The children’s librarians at Morrison library. Book wizards!
I could not live without my…
Well of course I should say my 4 cute kiddos and sweet husband. And I should also say I cannot live without books – this is all true. But the thing that keeps it all afloat? My calendar.
Thanks, Mary Howard. Do you have a Smarty Mom, Dad, Daughter or Son doing great things in our community, email us – we’d LOVE to hear from you!
Clever, chic and creative holiday cards with a local twist – Oh, and did we mention a 15% “Smarty” discount?!
Charlotte does it up right for Christmas. We’ve put together some of our favorite Holiday designs and the local places to nab them! All featured designers are offering a CSP 15% discount on holiday merchandise if you order by 12/1. Merry Christmas, Smarties! Now go and get your Holiday on – click here for all the scoop!