Unleash & Unload Q&A from 20 June 2012

Questions in bold font and the comments below


Good advice for new potential governesses. 

ALWAYS vet your families. ALWAYS check or ask for references from previous governesses and other employers.

Join Outback Govies fb group and make friends with other govies in your area. This will help give you a support network before arriving.

Yes we encourage this so the Govie has an understanding or the family and their life before they arrive; dont want them thinking its like TV!

Check referees should be a must for both Govie and Family. It is important both provide it. My family didn't have a governess before me but a girl who worked as a jillaroo provided a character reference and when I got in contact with some in a govie group online they raved about how great my family was and how I was going to love coming up to work on in the area with them. It was a great move.

What is you best tip or advice for when you are applying and getting interviewed for a new job?

Make sure you've done your research about the company/family as best you can and have a question or two to ask them as the end (they almost always ask if you have any questions).

Families aren't worried whether u have had experience on farms/stations they want to know that you have the childrens best interests in mind. Let them know u love kids and are excited to be part of their learning. Ask questions

Be honest and say if you haven't done something then say so if they ask you. People respect honesty and you are going to be living very very closely with the family so start of clear and open about your intentions and abilities


Ask questions about the kids interest and what they love doing. Even favourite colours or toys. That way it will give you an idea of what type of kids and maybe you could look for an age appropriate magazine or book to take with you to give them after your first day in the schoolroom with them.

Do not slander past governesses to your current governesses. They don't want to hear it when it gets Bitchy. Everyone had GOOD and BAD points. Try to focus on sharing the good and being factual about the bad.

Can I add to this one? Don't make your past governess seem like gods gift to the world and that everything she did was perfect. This just makes the current one feel like she has no chance being half as good as the last one.

Great add and I totally agree. Been in that position

it just makes them feel more nervous that they can't achieve, a bit like unleash 5... No one is perfect. Work on your own good points and be unique in your talents and show them

Yes, but I have also wondered what some past govies say about their employers? Not that I have anything to hide; but your welcoming someone into your family, privacy is a good thing!

Must agree. Don't run down past families or past govies. You can talk about your experience but try to stay away from the negatives. BE CAREFUL what you say about work on fb while at your job. People who know you and your work family will guess it is a whinge about work.

Its not nice when your current govie is venting about you on social media. Remember nothing on the internet is truly private.

I am having trouble managing kid with bad behavior. Very stubborn and I don't want to start yelling to get her to work. The kid gets distracted and often just won't have a go. WHAT can I do? Please help me.

Have you spoken to the parents, it could stem from a family issue. If you're new she may just be testing the water. Your best bet is to be consistent and firm, if she sees you're not budging she'll give in.

How old is the child? I also have stubborn issues in the schoolroom sometimes and at a loss at times! Reward charts and straight out bribery works wonders.

I believe between 8 and 11 years old

Agree with Hannah - when I arrived my ten year old tried his best to get rid of me with atrocious behaviour! I don't know if I've just learnt how to deal with him or if he's learnt to deal with me, somewhere in between we've found common ground...some days!

You've got to find a way to relate whatever they're learning to what they're interested in, for English at the moment we're learning about narration so we talk a lot about what TV shows he likes have a narrator, or for maths division just straight sums weren't floating his boat so I made him draw a truck full of 60 cattle and he has to deliver his cattle to 5 farms etc.

I found that detention worked wonders, the first 3 weeks that i was there we probably had a good 3 hours of detention before she realized I meant what i said. After that she pretty much did what was told. Just be consistent with discipline, they'll test you on it and if they find a weakness...watch out

I also did heaps of reward times for good behaviour, where we'd have a girly day or go for a horse ride after school. She loved that and that way there was a consequence for both behaviours.

Tick chart- kid gets to tick off whatever she finishes during the day and cross for what she doesn't (must do through the day at the end of each activity). 2 ticks in a row and she gets a reward then build it up to all ticks for the day for a reward. 

yes consistency is the key, Kids thrive on rules because it gives them boundaries. I have used positive reinforcement and been very aware of the behaviour so that the praise is happening when the good behaviour is happening. Also, confiscating something that the child is keen on doing/ playing with is an extreme but effective tool. You can't play with the computer game today because you have not done the maths I asked of you... sort of thing

Use a peg system. She has 10 pegs all week long and has to maintain 8 at a time. Can earn them back also. By Friday arvo she must have all ten to get something from the prize box. You figure out what the punishment is for the child if there is less than 8 pegs! 

no matter what you decide to do whether rewards, bribing, taking things away mean what you say and carry through. Never threaten something you can't do. And if it feels wrong to you don't do it. We have no rewards in place just expectations that have to be met or there are consequences. After over 3yrs the kids know I mean what I say ... sounds a bit tough love. We do work on praise and rewards for an early day and fun things when work is done and stickers for great work as well.

Another option is calling their teacher and explaining the situation and getting them to talk to the child, if they are willing. It has work for me in the past. I know in the eyes of the kids I teach their teachers are the best thing, they look up to them, adore them so what they think matters. Also another idea if it is time management and a case of work not getting done pull out a timer (or get one) and if it isn't done in the set time put it away to be done when everything else for the day is finished or in detention time if you want to go that way. I think working with the teacher and parent is important though (if they are willing) because they can be your back up and it means they know what is happening.

I had a mentor teacher with 25 years experience and she NEVER raised her voice.. she spoke ever so quietly and the kids responded in kind. Being loud, just makes the kids louder, so you need to try and keep your cool. Be kind to yourself and the kids by having Mini breaks, mind gym, stretches, rewards, praise, whatever positives you can think of.. what does this student really like? Try to tap into what their interests are? ie you work well for me for the next hour and we will play footy for 10 minutes after school or in break time.. just an example. Or if they like to read: finish that activity and you can sit in the sun and read for 5 minutes.. Just keep a track and do what you say & mean what you say....

When teaching stubborn children I can totally understand why my mother got a governess. There is no easy answer and sometimes what works one day might not work the next. Write down all the ideas and try them all to you find something that works for you. Also make them talk to you, teach them to analyse things they are hating and work out where they are having problems. Remember and remind them they don't have to like but they do have to do it.

I have a girl in Year 2 with low self esteem. Gives up even if she did it right yesterday. I already praise whenever she does things right, have a sticker reward system. Does anyone have any other tips?

This is by far my biggest challenge in the schoolroom with a 10 year old girl. I praise and soothe and am as patient as possible (?!) but sometimes it's just head down on desk and tears. I also have a sticker reward system which does help but I'd also appreciate tips!

I share experiences where I haven't felt confident. Maybe share stories of when you were in school.

I had that issue, I foudn the best way to break through was to get her a fan base, I got her teacher involved and her mother, I email her teacher the issue and let her mum know and with all that praise she was soon eager to show us her next accomplishment.

How about breaking the task up into smaller components and asking her to do just one at a time.

Let your learner know it is ok to make mistakes and s/he is not alone try different modes of delivery. My child who is Ten also needs support in maths, a subject she hates. She loves art. So I combine the two in a simple activity that she enjoys and builds confidence in this case we made origami 3D stars. I refer to the stars when talking about maths, they are a reminder that she can do it. 

Spend a little time outside of school giving her tasks to complete- eg. running further than she's used to and let her see for herself she is capable this will then reflect in her school work.

Give her small responsibilities in the class too!

Self esteem won't improve overnight but keep at it no matter how frustrating it is. By the end of 12 months if you have taken on board the above ideas then you will see some improvements.  Oh and another thing. I no longer put crosses on the work but have a star stamp for things that are perfect and ticks where it is a good effort. For things that are wrong I go back over them or reteach them at another time or in another way. Such as if your see a sentence which needs to be reworded then maybe write it on the whiteboard and work together to change it. Or if you see a spelling concept they need help with teach it the next day. Tell the teacher what is going in and keep her up to date with what your doing and what is working

Something a bit lighter, what do you do when you get home sick? Is it lonely and isolated on a property?

Great question messaged in. I find myself often looking for a quiet weekend as we get lots of people visiting our station on the way through. When I get homesick I usually do something like read a book, get online and blog, chat to friends on twitter and fb. Sometimes I have a drink and turn my music up. Home sickness is normal and one thing I don't do is ring my family as I find it makes me worse. Sometimes I will ask to go on a water run or go help kids. Being busy is the best way to get use to your new environment

I find I do around a week or two after going back to work after holidays as well as anytime something is happening down home I usually take part in. I talk to family on facebook, skype and a weekly phone call. When I am homesick I find something to occupy myself and keep my mind off it for a while like cooking or hanging out with others. It can be lonely and isolated but if you have a good relationship with the family you work for and make friends areound the area it is easier. Most of the time I am so busy I don't notice and I love the space. The hardest I find is when I have been stuck on the property for months because of rain. Going for a walk so I see different scenery helps a bit or chatting to others in the outside world.

i agree with above comment, dont ring home and try keep busy. Try keep in contact with other govvies on a weekly basis as it can be a good friend basis and keep you busy some wk ends to let your hair down , after all most others are in the same boat with missing home! 

hop on facebook and chat, but if you know that will make you worse, find a hobby or involve yourself in the property activities

haha i wrote the most miserable and depressing novella but at least it got my feelings out.

I have read somewhere that homesickness shows that you know where your home is and where your heart belongs. It is ok to be homesick, just don't let it overcome you

I was thinking of starting a blog, how/ what's the best way to do that?

I have a blog Bec - www.newlywedhappycampers.b​logspot.com.au Super easy to set up through blogger.com

What should I take or organise before going to my new governessing job?

A blue tick Telstra phone

your sense of humour

A tolerance for bad internet service

your patience,resolve and wisdom..

something that helps YOU relax after a long day ie favourite tv series, books, and chocolate (my weakness) lol 

an open mind and an easygoing attitude, don't let the little things faze you. I would organise some decent boots, practical clothes and a hat but also some party clothes. If you have medication, organise to have a good supply as it might be a little while before you get to a doctor again.

Decent boots are a must

A stash of your favourite snack/ sweets. Musli bars, chocolate, Lollies etc cos if you get a craving for It you might not be able to get to shops for weeks! 

Prescriptions, organise with your doc to send you your medication when you call them or something (thats what i did but in a big city doctors might not do that sort of thing?).

Phone card, alot of stations have a staff phone which you need a prepaid phone card.

Do a bit of research and planning for in the class room before you get there, help you look organised.

 A credit card or simula so you can buy things over the internet and phone.

A plan! What perspective are you going to take with kids? I also found a book on shild behaviour helped me greatly because each child is different.

Take some kids art books. Hit the 2nd hand book shop. While the computer is great to research, the kids do love picking up a book. Anything you might need to last you 10 weeks. While you will get to town often it is a small town and expensive also if you are in the bosses car then space will be an issue. Credit or debit card so you can buy online if you need something. Make sure you have internet banking setup so you can keep in control of finances.

Great idea about the blog. There are several govies with blogs

Come see my blog http://​outbackwindow.blogspot.com.​au/ --- through of late been so busy governessing I haven't had time to write. Great way to communicate and share 

Thank you to all her messaged in questions and answers


  1. WOWEE what a fab site you have going here...I can honestly see a book in the making. Do it! Don't put off to tomorrow what you can do today; just make a start.

  2. Thanks. Every time I write another post I consider it another page of my story.

  3. I am a DE mum. I love your site and these Q & A's are great. Term 3 starts Monday (where did the 1st 2 terms go?) and I am off to start putting in some of the suggestions. Thanks for your work.

  4. Great to hear these are helping. If you have any questions of your own then just message me through facebook or email me at govaust@governessaustralia.com with Unleashed qeustions as the subject