I am a self-proclaimed nerd in multiple ways. I spend most of my free time hanging out with my friends on Discord playing video games. When I’m not actively gaming, you can find me reading fantasy novels or watching superhero shows. If it’s considered geeky, I probably have some connection to it. That’s one part of who I am. Another part is that I crave deep connections with those I love. I’m one of those people that truly wants to be known. I have discovered that one of the best ways to satisfy that aspect of me is to share a love of a common topic, and there are very few topics I love as much as nerdy things. As a nanny, I struggled to connect these two parts of me. I believed for a while that I couldn’t share the nerdy side of me with children, because it wasn’t age-appropriate. But then how could I feel connected to the children in my care if I couldn’t share any of my interests with them? Over time I came to see that there are ways to share a love of nerd culture with children that are fun for both parties involved. When you care for children, it doesn’t have to be completely focused on their interests all the time. If you’re like me, you will feel most fulfilled in your role as a caregiver when you don’t ignore parts of yourself but rather use them as a way to find a deeper connection with the kids. Hopefully these tips help you to find what works for you when introducing your kids to the wonders of nerd culture!
Read nerdy books.
This is the number one way I connected with the kids. Instead of only picking out books that they were interested in, I read nerdy books to them as well. If they weren’t interested in them at that moment, I simply read them on my own. Inevitably, when they saw me reading, they wanted to see too. This opened the door to conversations about what I enjoyed, such as video games, without an excess of screen time. Here at the library, we have a huge number of books that could be considered nerdy! Check out this book list I made about video game books, or chat with one of our librarians to find books that fit your particular brand of geekiness.
Do nerdy crafts together.
There are so many nerdy craft ideas out there. You can always try googling what you’re interested in plus craft at the end. For more specific recommendations, if you’re a video game nerd like myself, one of my personal favorite craft books is “Craft Projects for Minecraft and Pixel Art Fans” by Choly Knight. If you’re a science nerd, check out the Lerner Maker Lab! The crafts they offer are a fantastic, kid-friendly way to introduce complex scientific concepts. Nothing makes a science-loving heart sing with joy more than hearing a little voice talk about complex scientific ideas. Also, don’t discount the joy of open-ended crafts. For example, when I was obsessed with The Legend of Zelda, any time we painted, I would make sure to include colors that allowed me to paint a Zelda-inspired scene. When the kids asked about what I was painting, I was able to talk about my interests with them. Nothing felt forced, as the kids were able to craft their own wonderful creations with the materials provided.
Just as there are endless crafts, there are infinite possibilities for baking nerd-inspired treats. For instance, if you’re a fan of Valve, try baking this Portal cake from Geeky Chef. Or if you’re a Dungeons and Dragons lover like myself, check out the official cookbook! You can rest assured knowing that the kids in your care are gaining life skills through cooking, while also enjoying nerdy goodness together.
Use costumes while playing pretend.
This tip is especially great for those of you who love superheroes, though it works for many different subjects. Many children really love being able to dress up. Why not use it as an opportunity to introduce them to your geeky interests? Offer them capes for superheroes, lab coats for scientists, hats for video game characters, crowns for kings, etc. As Bea and Parker teach us in “Create a Costume” by Sarah Myer, costume-making doesn’t have to be expensive either!
Take them to nerdy events.
I was surprised at how many kid-friendly nerdy events there are out there. If you can make the trip, every year, there is a comic con in Springfield, Missouri that typically happens in February. This comic con has many fun attractions, ranging from vendors to a cosplay contest. For my fellow fantasy fans, I absolutely adore the local Renaissance Festival. You will find many families enjoying the welcoming environment and kid-friendly activities, such as watching local artisans perform their craft.
This list is only the tip of the iceberg. There are so many ways to connect with the children in your care while also enjoying the nerdy side of you. Sometimes, seeing something you already love through the eyes of a child makes you love it more too! Go forth and create new nerds of the next generation.