R OUTINES AND T R ANSITIONS
their basic needs are met, we make more room for
eating, resting, and hygiene times. In this holis-
tic view, children actively participate in their own
evolution and in their own life. This contrasts with
both the autocratic approach, in which children
are forced to meet the expectations of authority
figures, and, at the other end of the spectrum, the
free pedagogy approach, which leaves children
alone to face choices they are not always able to
make and to carry through.
The pedagogical approach of this text uses rou-
tine and transition activities to prepare children
for life, to stimulate them to learn, and to guide
them in developing their capacities and their tal-
ents, while respecting their unique styles and their
own rhythms. We call this democratic pedagogy.
Faced with the multiple names used to
describe a pedagogy centered on children realiz-
ing their potential, this text uses the term demo-
cratic approach. The reason for favoring this model
for planning and organizing routine and transi-
tion activities is that it is an excellent method to
respond to the needs of today’s children—children
who will have to build the world of tomorrow. See
BOX 1.1 Characteristics
of the democratic approach
Primacy is given to the whole development
of the child.
Adults respect the physical, psychological,
social, and cultural particularities of
children, and their true needs.
The value of play in the process of learning
Children’s active participation in both the
big and the small daily tasks is important.
For example, a child might get interested in a new
food, such as mangos, by observing an educator
eating some and listening to a story about the fruit.
In this way, language, imagination, understanding,
sensory perceptions, affective relationships, and
nutritional needs act in synergy to present a new
experience for the child.
Play is the natural way children understand the
world around them. Routine and transition activi-
ties give them many occasions to learn while play-
ing: to play at putting on clothes in the right order
with the help of an action song; to play at returning
the toys to their “home”; to play at moving without
making noise, like a little mouse. It is through play
that children learn basic abilities.
Each child is a distinct human being worthy of
a thorough and detailed study, without categoriz-
ing her according to age, origin, or gender. When
we consider a child as a unique being, we respect
her individuality and culture while encouraging her
to adapt to group life. We encourage her to make
choices and foster her self-esteem. We help her to
express her needs and we help her try to meet them
according to her capabilities. This approach requires
a knowledge of child development as well as system-
atic observation of the child, because children and
the world around them are constantly changing.
Despite the importance given to children in
the context of democratic pedagogy, parents and
early childhood educators also assume a crucial role
in promoting children’s potential, acting as guides,
supports, and mediators. Parental cooperation is
essential to the success of this pedagogical approach.
Educational settings must develop a means to fos-
ter partnerships with families. In relation to routine
and transition activities in educational settings, the
democratic approach is a set of conscious dynamic
actions inspired by the constant probing and reflec-
tion of educators. Through appropriate educational
choices, educators allow children to learn according
to their developmental stage, rhythm, and reality.
Partnership with families is a necessity.
In the context of the democratic approach, learn-
ing is a synergistic process in which one aspect of
development—physical and psychomotor, social
and affective, or cognitive—stimulates another.
1.4 Routine and transition
activities in early childhood
Life in an early childhood program is packed with
activities that promote the development of the