While I was teaching, the state government came out with an Anti-drug program we were all supposed to use. Each classroom received a suitcase full of material they were supposed to use. The first thing we were supposed to do was give everyone a true/false test. I wondered how this would work in kindergarten since most kids are not reading yet. Being a dutiful teacher, I gave the test with a disastrous result.
After a couple years of siimilar experiences, I got rid of the suitcase and designed my own Anti-drug program. I decided that to meet the goals of the program, the best thing I could do was to teach them that they were accountable for their own actions. I knew some needed this on th first day of school. After explaining the classroom rules, (keep your hands and feet to yourself, raise your hand before talking, etc.) I would ask the qurstion, "Whose in charge of seeing that you follow these rules?" Immediately hands would shoot up. "The principal,the teacher, our moms and dads", they would say to which I would shake my head - no. I always knew which ones went to Sunday School because they would raise their hands and shout,"I know, I know, it's God!" When I still shook my head no, they were stumped. I explained that they were in charge and it was quite a revelation. Some enjoyed this new found autonomy.
Our new anti-drug program was playing a childhood game called "Chutes and Ladders" ( some people call it "Snakes and Ladders"). In this game the player rolls a die to see how many spaces he may move. There are pictures of children doing something nice or thoughtful or doing someting thoughtless mean such as pulling the cat's tail. Depending on where they land, they can either go up a ladder, closer to the goal of winning or down a chute where they must keep working towards the goal a little behind the others. No one is ever out of the game.
We would play the game first using a die to determine the outcome. Then we would play the game again with the children choosing how many spaces they would move. When I explained that they were in charge of the choices they made in life, good choices usually brought good results and bad choices usually brought unhappy consequences. They were amazed. From that point I only had to teach that drugs were a bad choice.
WHAT I LEARNED: The most important thing young children can learn is that they are accountable for their own acyions.