governess When parents start considering care for their children, they may consider hiring a nanny. A nanny will be responsible for all aspects of bringing up a child in a safe yet stimulating environment. However, as children get older, parents may then start to consider hiring a governess who will work with their children with an emphasis being on education. While some parents may choose to employ a nanny working alongside a governess others may simply choose to hire only a governess.

Let’s look into difference between a Nanny and a Governess in a little more detail.

The Nanny role

Families who require private childcare may decide to hire a nanny who will come to their home to provide care for their children. Nannies look after children from when they are very young, following on from a maternity nurse or from the parents from around 4-6 months. Nannies are often responsible for full-nursery duties, which include but are not limited to:

  • Looking after the baby (feeding, changing, dressing, bathing etc)
  • Keeping the children’s supplies maintained
  • Tidying the child’s area
  • Sterilising bottles (if used)
  • Playing with the infant, making sure the child is stimulated
  • Children’s laundry
  • Preparing meals (includes weaning)
  • Toilet training
  • Preparing the child’s day (going for walks, baby groups etc)
  • Keeping appointments (Dr’s, play dates, nursery meetings etc)

The above bullet points are some of the things that you’d expect of a nanny that will help keep the children stimulated and safe. Nannies work with young infants, right up until the children are in their teens. As children get older, nannies may often take on more of a PA role in the house due to the childcare needs lessening.

The Governess role

A governess is a specialised child worker who works with children to teach them different elements. Due to the fact that they are hired to teach children, they usually work with children from about 5 years of age. Some parents do however choose to hire a governess for children from about the age of 3.

Parents may decide that they wish to hire a governess, either alongside an existing nanny or to work alone with the children. Parents who hire a governess alongside a nanny do this because whilst the governess will take charge of educational activities, the nanny will maintain full nursery duties and care related to the children. A governess is focused on making sure children are reaching educational milestones and whilst they ensure that children are safe and cared for, their main focus will be the child’s education and etiquette.

A governess will:

  • Ensure that children follow a routine that allows for homework and educational activities.
  • They may teach specialised subjects. This could be a language (for bilingual children), history or music instrument for example
  • Teach manners, etiquette and right code of conduct
  • Ensure the child’s timetable is adequate and allows for the day to run smoothly
  • Liaise with school and /or educated the child at home (if required)
  • Liaise with parents
  • Prepare children for exams and school assessments
  • Encourage children to behave appropriately and complete their studies

As you can see there are many differences between a governess and a nanny.  The main conclusion being, how nannies take on childcare duties as oppose to solely educating their charges.

Nannies will ensure that children are kept busy and stimulated through play and activities alongside duties such as weaning, nursery duties, toilet training etc. Governesses will not usually be involved in those childcare duties and will simply work to teach/educated children.

Written by Amy: Amy is a British Nanny and Governess with a Background in Childcare and Social Work. She is currently working with a team of Nannies as a Special Needs Governess.