Today, we want to introduce you to MaryFrances Gonzalez, the owner and founder of Teach Speech, a fantastic provider of speech therapy in Northern Virginia. We asked her a few questions about her business and how she got started. Consider Teach Speech for all your speech therapy needs.
How did you decide to become a speech language pathologist?
My first contact with speech therapy was in kindergarten. My two best friends went to speech therapy and it seemed like a lot of fun so I wanted to go as well. During my speech screening I purposely mispronounced words but the speech therapist figured it out and I didn't make it to the “magical room”. Years later when I was thinking about college careers my mother suggested speech therapy as she remembered my kindergarten folly. I decided to pursue an education degree instead. After a brief career in Fairfax County Schools as a PE teacher, I rekindled my interest in speech therapy and returned to pursue my master's in communication disorders. Turns out—mother really does know best!
What is the number one need you see facing the children that you treat for communication delays or disorders?
I find that the real need is to empower the parents with knowledge about their child’s challenges, how to advocate for them, and provide them with a “tool box” of strategies they can use at home.
What are some practical tips for parents to work on language with their children?
For younger children I recommend that adults get face-to-face when playing with their children. Children learn through imitation and being at eye level allows them to see how your mouth is forming the words and your expressions. For older children, I always encourage parents to ask questions that don’t require a simple “yes” or “no” answer and always encourage more information by saying “tell me more!”
What is ONE thing you wish more parents knew about speech therapy?
That their therapist really wants you to do the homework they give you because it's crucial to your child’s progress. When I work with a child one or two times a week it will make a difference but the magic really happens when parents practice in the home environment as well.
What ages does your practice serve?
My practice serves children from birth – 12 years who have challenges in their speech or language skills. I work with families to help children become confident communicators and lay the foundation for future success in school and life. I also offer parent coaching, reading tutoring, and a kindergarten readiness program.
Born and raised in Chicago, MaryFrances' big Italian family moved to Northern Virginia during her high school years. After several years of living on the west coast and then in South America, their family returned to Northern Virginia to raise their two young boys.
Her days are spent juggling the joys of marriage, motherhood, and small business ownership. Any spare moments she finds, she spends with her nose in a good book. Her secret passion is DIY home projects and hopes to one day master power tools.
"Building a foundation for learning, one word at a time"
Mary Frances Gonzalez