What’s a governess? And does my family need one?


Long ago it was common for families to hire both a nanny and a governess for their children. While the nanny provided childcare for the family’s children, the governess attended to the schooling of the children and had attained a high enough education level to do so. Even though the position of a governess became less popular after World War II, wealthy families would still often hire one to educate their children. A governess on the other hand, only tends to the children’s educational needs.

  • Teaching a language – If a governess was fluent in two or more languages, part of her duties may include teaching a second language to the children. Unlike a school situation, where kids would only be able to practice during that particular class time, a governess could extend the lessons into everyday life, giving the children a much richer experience in learning the language.
  • Music lessons – Some governesses are also equipped to teach children the fundamentals of music education. Piano is one of the main instruments that governesses are prepared to teach, but often they have mastered one or two other instruments as well and will teach those to the kids also. Many schools have reduced or completely cut out their music departments. Hiring a governess who can really give personalized attention to the child’s musical training can make a difference in the overall learning ability of the child, especially since it is a known fact that studying music also enhances math and science skills.
  • Art appreciation – Art is another of the elective courses that have been cut from many school programs, yet it is art and creativity that speaks to our humanity. A governess attends to this subject as well, and often will teach the children painting, drawing and other artistic and creative endeavors in addition to lessons about the arts and artists.
  • Educates the children – The education of a governess is usually quite extensive and she often has been trained in how to educate children. The standard of education that a governess can provide is usually quite high. A nanny may provide tutoring for the kids, but a governess will provide them with a quality education.
  • Teaches etiquette – Good manners will take a person far in life, and a governess will make sure the children learn not only good manners but also how to behave in all social situations. The kids will not be daunted by a formal table setting, because they will know what all the knives, forks and spoons are for, as well as all the dishes and glasses. They will know how to greet people and the proper way to introduce people to one another. They will also learn how to hold a proper conversation. Through lessons from a governess, children will be well equipped to handle any social gathering.
  • Tailored education – In a regular school setting, kids take the classes that the school offers. If you want your child to take classes that are not offered at the school, you will be on your own. A governess however, will tailor your child’s education to fit whatever needs your child has. The child will have access to education in areas not available in most schools. Hiring the right governess will ensure your child will attain one of the best educations possible.
  • For security – Some parents lead very high profile lives, and educating their children in a regular school would just be too difficult, and in some instances, not very safe. When that is the case, a governess will provide a top notch education for the kids, and they will be able to maintain their safety and security without being in the public arena.
  • Living in multiple locations – Occasionally, a family will need to live in multiple locations throughout the year. This means interruptions in the children’s education since different school districts have different standards. Hiring a governess would eliminate this worry. The children’s education would continue uninterrupted no matter where they were living.
  • Frequent travel – Some families travel a lot. When this is the case, having a governess makes a huge difference because the children’s education will not suffer. Wherever the family goes, the governess is there continuing the lessons.

Nannies attend to the daily needs of kids and they often help with chores related to the care of the kid. A governess, on the other hand, is solely dedicated to the intellectual development of the children, and as such can ensure that they are receiving a high quality education.

Written by Ruth Maurandy


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