Can I hire a homeschool governess?

A parent wishes to hire a homeschool instructor like a governess.


Dear Ms. Topp,

I found your website while trying to research information on hiring a private homeschool instructor for a friend of mine.  She’s a single parent who adopted a now 12-year-old girl.  She’s having a little bit of a problem in public school and I thought it might be a good idea to homeschool her for her middle school years.

Can you point me to some information on whether my friend can  hire a homeschool instructor to work with her daughter?  I know this may sound crazy, but I keep thinking what her daughter needs is a governess.  Or maybe I’ve read too many Bronte and Austen novels.  Any help you could provide would be most appreciated.





I think you are absolutely correct in using the term governess to describe your friend’s situation.
I have a blog post titled “Is It a Homeschool Co-op or Mary Poppins?” that addresses a similar question.

I have been asked questions similar to yours several times, so it not an unusual idea. It is quite an old idea as you reference (Jane Eyre is a favorite!)

I would direct your friend to do research in three areas:
1. Her state homeschool laws and see if a non-parent is allowed to instruct a child. I imagine it is allowed, she may just have to report the governess’ name and subjects covered on an annual basis (we do here in Ohio, for example)

2. Employer laws in your state.  A local CPA would be helpful here. The governess may be considered a household employee and that has easier tax reporting requirements (like annually, not quarterly filing).  Employer taxes (Social Security and Medicare) will need to be paid.

3. Perhaps consult with an attorney to draw up an employment agreement.  Perhaps a professional tutor or nanny/au pair service in your area may have sample agreements to use as a guide.

I hope that helps!

Carol Topp, CPA


  1. I have actually worked for the past several months as a homeschool governess in the state of Florida. It is perfectly legal in most states these days as long as you go about it the right way. The best way to find out if it is okay to hire a governess to teach your children is to contact the board of education and ask. There may be requirements for what sort of education a governess must have or other considerations. I received my governess certification from the English Nanny and Governess School in Chagrin Falls, Ohio and I would recommend starting there if you are serious in pursuing this option.

  2. Rebekah, Thank you for sharing your real-life experience! Good advice to contact your local board of education.
    Carol Topp, CPA

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