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What is a Governess: Unlock the Role of a Governess for Women and Children!

What is a Governess: Unlock the Role of a Governess for Women and Children!

Have you ever wondered what is a Governess or what does a Governess do when working?

Many parents consider hiring a nanny to meet the care and needs of their children. Nannies are responsible for helping the kids learn and develop skills through safe yet engaging activities. However, as the children grow older, some parents may start to consider hiring a live-in or live-out governess to work with their children. Governess jobs are varied and many governesses are based overseas with international travel. 

Definition of a Governess

In a nutshell, the definition of a governess is a woman who is hired to teach children in a private home.

In the past, a governess was often the only female role model in a child's life and she played an important role in the child's upbringing. In fact, a governess was once the only way for a young lady to receive an education if her family could not afford to send her to school. Today, governesses are less common but some families still decide to hire one. Governesses still provide an important service in teaching children manners, etiquette, and other important life skills.

A Governess’s duties and responsibilities are mostly to give support to a child’s education, manner, and etiquette. They are tasked with communicating with the child’s school to know how their tutees perform in class. Additionally, governors and governesses ensure that the child is reaching important milestones. The governess must be well educated herself so that she can provide a good education for the children. She usually teaches basic academic subjects such as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

In the governess role, qualified caregivers hired by parents act as personal teachers to the young children in their households. Many governess jobs look for highly educated individuals who have a minimum of two years in teaching children. Most modern governess roles only require an academic mentor and are usually not given any domestic tasks.


Historical background

Historically, the governess were single women from the middle-class who were given permission to come inside the homes of families belonging to the upper-class or aristocratic society. Her job was to educate young girls and boys. 

The position was considered a lonely job as the governess was neither family nor servant. Many mothers feared their children would prefer the caregiver because they spent more time with them. This led many parents to ignore the governess after work hours.


Governesses were most often employed to teach children how to read, write, and arithmetic operations. Young women were taught to be genteel and accomplish skills aristocratic girls were expected to have. This included having the ability to speak in another language, play a musical instrument, paint, write poetry, or embroider, among others. 

What is the role of a Governess?

Private governesses are specialised childcare workers who are hired to teach kids from ages 3 and up. A full-time governess is responsible for the son or daughter of their employer and her role includes:

  • Ensuring that children complete their homework
  • Plan a routine that allows for fun and education activities
  • Teach children specialised subjects, such as a new language, history, or musical instruments
  • Ensure that the kids have proper manners and etiquette
  • Communicate with the school and parents about the child’s educational progress
  • Help prepare children for exams and assessments
  • Encourage children to behave and complete their studies
  • An overseas governess can provide tuition in a 2nd language


Who hires a Governess and why?

In today's fast-paced world, the demand for a well-rounded education and individualised attention to a child's development has never been greater. As a result, many families seek the expertise of a governess, a specialised professional responsible for nurturing and educating their children within the home environment. In this in-depth exploration, we'll delve into the realm of governesses and uncover the reasons behind their increasing popularity.

A governess is a woman who occupies a unique role, situated somewhere between a nanny and a tutor, combining the caretaking responsibilities of the former with the educational expertise of the latter. Historically, governesses were employed by wealthy, aristocratic families to educate their daughters and, at times, their sons in the proper manners, etiquette, and intellectual pursuits befitting their social standing.

In recent years, however, the role of the governess has evolved to accommodate the needs of modern families. No longer restricted to the confines of the Victorian era, governesses today are sought after by a diverse range of individuals, including affluent families, high-profile professionals, and even royalty. The reasons for hiring a governess are as varied as the families they serve, but several key factors consistently emerge as central to the decision-making process.

  1. Personalised Education: A governess is a highly skilled educator, often holding a degree or specialised qualifications in teaching, child development, or a particular subject area. By working closely with the child or children, a governess can tailor her teaching methods and curriculum to suit the individual needs and learning styles of her charges, ensuring a well-rounded and engaging educational experience.

  2. Manners and Etiquette: Governesses are well-versed in the art of etiquette and social grace, and they impart these skills to their charges, fostering a sense of poise, confidence, and propriety. This emphasis on good manners and proper behaviour is highly valued by many families, who see it as an essential component of their children's upbringing.

  3. Homeschooling Support: For families who opt for homeschooling, a governess can be an invaluable resource, providing structure, academic guidance, and the expertise needed to navigate the challenges of homeschooling. With a governess's support, parents can feel confident in their decision to homeschool, knowing their children are receiving a high-quality education tailored to their needs.

  4. Flexibility: Governesses typically provide full-time, live-in care, offering families the flexibility and stability they require. This arrangement is particularly beneficial for families with demanding careers, frequent travel, or other commitments that may make it difficult to provide consistent, hands-on care for their children.

  5. Cultural Enrichment: A governess is often well-traveled and highly educated, with a passion for sharing her knowledge and experiences with her charges. By exposing children to a variety of cultures, languages, and traditions, a governess helps broaden their horizons and fosters an appreciation for the diverse world in which we live.

  6. One-on-one Attention: In contrast to the crowded classrooms and overburdened teachers that characterise many traditional educational settings, a governess provides personalised, one-on-one attention to her charges. This individualised approach not only enhances the learning experience but also allows the governess to closely monitor the child's progress and address any concerns or areas of difficulty as they arise.

  7. Security and Privacy: For high-profile families, the privacy and security offered by a governess can be a significant advantage. As a trusted member of the household, a governess is well-equipped to protect the children in her care, ensuring their safety and well-being at all times.

  8. Overall Child Development: In addition to their academic responsibilities, governesses are often tasked with overseeing the physical, emotional, 

    and social development of their charges. This holistic approach to child-rearing allows the governess to nurture well-rounded, emotionally intelligent, and confident individuals who are well-prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

    1. Continuity and Stability: The presence of a governess in a child's life offers a consistent and stable figure to guide them through their formative years. This continuity can be particularly beneficial for children who may face frequent moves or disruptions in their home life, as the governess remains a constant source of support, guidance, and care.

    2. Specialised Skills: Many governesses possess unique talents or areas of expertise, such as musical ability, fluency in multiple languages, or proficiency in specialised subjects like art, history, or science. By sharing their knowledge and passion with their charges, governesses help foster a love of learning and encourage their students to explore and develop their own interests and talents.

    The decision to hire a governess is often based on a multitude of factors, ranging from educational preferences and cultural enrichment to flexibility and security. As the role of the governess has evolved to meet the needs of modern families, so too has the appeal of this unique form of childcare and education. The one-on-one attention, personalised instruction, and emphasis on manners and etiquette offered by a governess are just a few of the many reasons why parents worldwide continue to seek out these dedicated professionals to help shape the minds and hearts of their children.

    As we have delved into the world of governesses, it is clear that they offer a wide range of benefits and a level of individualised care that is difficult to match in more traditional educational settings. The expertise, dedication, and passion of a governess can play a pivotal role in shaping the young minds and characters of the children in their care, ensuring that they are well-prepared to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities that await them in their future lives.

Governesses Today: The modern face of a time-honored profession

In today's fast-paced and ever-evolving world, the role of the governess has undergone significant transformations. While live-in nannies share similarities with the governesses of the 19th century, modern governesses are expected to possess specialised knowledge, acting as educators, caretakers, and tutors all in one. Indeed, the expectations once set for governesses have now become the norm for nannies, encompassing a plethora of responsibilities and skills.

A modern governess is a highly educated and experienced woman, an expert in childcare, and a proficient tutor. She is typically tasked with nurturing, teaching, and guiding children, often from affluent households, in their formative years. Today's governesses boast impressive educational backgrounds, holding certifications and degrees in various fields of study. Additionally, they possess years of experience in teaching children in school settings and caring for them in domestic environments.

In many ways, a governess is a bridge between a nanny and a private tutor. While responsible for the child's welfare and daily routine, she also has a vital role in their educational development. The modern governess not only provides academic support but also helps children achieve important developmental milestones, plan and organise educational activities, and communicate effectively with parents to ensure the child's progress.

The expertise of a governess doesn't stop at academics; they are also well-versed in teaching etiquette, manners, and social skills. With a keen eye for details, they encourage children to explore their interests, engage in physical activities, and participate in cultural events. Often accompanying families on trips, a governess is a constant figure in a child's life, ensuring a stable and nurturing environment.

Governesses today possess the flexibility and adaptability to cater to a wide range of family needs, whether it's homeschooling, providing additional support for children with special requirements, or aiding with language development. They are highly skilled professionals who can create tailored lesson plans, assess children's progress, and administer exams, all while providing personalised care and attention.

With the resurgence of the governess role, demand for these highly qualified and experienced women has increased worldwide. Governesses are now employed across various countries and settings, from bustling cities to remote countryside estates. The salary of a governess is typically higher than that of a nanny or tutor, reflecting their unique skills and the value they bring to a family.

In conclusion, the role of the governess in today's world has evolved into a highly specialised and sought-after profession. They are not only educators and caretakers but also mentors and role models, helping to shape the minds and manners of the next generation. The modern governess is a testament to the importance of education, care, and nurturing in the upbringing of children, offering a unique and valuable service to families worldwide.