Consider Hiring A Governess: How This Important Person Fits Into Your Family

Sometimes people interpret the title of governess as simply a more British-sounding name for nanny, as if their roles are wholly interchangeable.

That is a misconception, although it’s a very common one. Many people are surprised when they discover that a governess has an almost entirely different role than that of a nanny, and often comes with different qualifications, different professional experiences, and a whole different skill set.

Think of it this way: both careers are child-focused, but they diverge in description and duties.  A nanny’s responsibilities are broader than a governess’s, whose focus is education and all that entails. Although a nanny may be the one who walks a child to school and meets them after classes, it is the governess who meets with teachers, principals and other school officials. A child’s education in all its many forms are the purview of the governess, whether it includes tutoring in a second or third language, art classes, or instruction on a musical instrument.  Of course parents decide how and where their child will be educated, but when those decisions are made, the governess takes over ensuring the education is delivered properly, in accordance with the parents’ wishes.  

It isn’t solely academics a governess is responsible for. They teach other things, too, a list of which we’ve outlined below. (Again, all these are done in consultation with, and permission of, parents.)

1. A governess instills proper conduct and manners.

Parents are the frontline workers in this regard, but the governess is second in command, so to speak. It is they who ensure a child knows which utensils to use properly at the dinner table, and other customs that accompany social niceties. Parents know that children need to be schooled in these matters, particularly once they begin traveling in circles where formal behavior is mandatory in some situations. A governess knows these guidelines thoroughly, and teaches children when, and where, certain behaviors are required. A child taught these things by a governess will never be caught off-guard, not knowing which spoon to use at a formal dinner! More serious are the ethics and the moral code the governess teaches on a daily basis.

2. A governess may tutor a child in language or music.

A governess comes equipped with skills in many areas that go beyond what is learned in traditional classrooms. Many have art history degrees; others are skilled pianists who give lessons to the children in their charge. And if parents want their child to learn, for example, an artistic curriculum that falls outside their school’s – let’s say, for example, they wish to have their child introduced to the works of Toni Morrison or the music of Bach – this falls within the duties of the governess.

3. A governess helps children prepare for exams and tests.

Unlike an occasional tutor, a governess is there for a child all year and beyond. They know what the school’s expectations are, but perhaps more importantly, they know the strengths and weaknesses of their charge’s learning style. They help children cope with the stress of exams, emotionally as well as academically. And if your child has special needs, a governess is qualified to work with those needs and ensure scholastic material is delivered to them in a suitable way that fosters success and encourages the child to tackle new challenges.

4. A governess can prepare them for college entrance tests.

By the time your teen hits 17 or 18, their childcare needs lessen, but their academic needs may not have changed. Having their governess to work with to help ready them for college applications can be a crucial way of ensuring their success on tests like M-CAT (Medical College Admission Test). Remember, this individual has worked with your child for several years – who better to equip them for all the many scholastic challenges that lay ahead?

The hurdles faced by children in an educational context today are many and diverse, and a governess’s job is to help them succeed at every one they encounter throughout the years.

They are not meant to replace your nanny, but rather work in tandem with them to ensure your child is loved, cared for, attended to in your absence and – and this is big! — prepared for life and learning obstacles they will, no doubt, face as time goes by.

A nanny is an experienced childcare professional with plenty of talents and abilities that put them in a unique role within your home.

A governess, too, is an experienced educator and child care specialist who brings a different skill set to the table. Their role, which is largely focused on a child’s education, is equally important to both children and parents. Do you have to choose one or the other? No! Elite Nannies has qualified candidates who bring an array of talents to every family they are placed with. We are available for a confidential consultation whenever the time is right for you.