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w hole child. Several of these activities are repeated day after day and provide a frame of reference for the day’s organization. These are routine and tran- sition activities. Despite the large amount of time that is spent daily on these activities, they are not always valued at the same level as teacher-initiated curriculum activities, group time, and even free play. Regardless, the educator has to organize and lead several basic life tasks such as snacks, hand and mouth hygiene, nap preparation, and dressing. Despite being repetitious, routine and transi- tion activities are not trivial. On the contrary, there is much to do and learn during these moments. Early childhood programs offer children many opportunities to develop a wide range of skills necessary to their development: autonomy, ver- bal expression, self-knowledge, self-esteem, group living, and so forth. In many ways, routine and transition activities are as essential and important as more-recognized educational activities such as language stimulation, logic games, art, hand-eye coordination, and gross-motor games and activities. Well-informed early childhood educators know how to use routines and transitions to promote the well-being of children in their care and how to teach those children awareness of their own basic needs: eating to care for one’s body, resting to reenergize, wearing a hat for sun protection, and so forth. While maintaining physical and emo- tional safety and even the health of children, these educators maximize the value of routine and tran- sition activities by generating a warm, comfort- able atmosphere in which children master basic life skills at their own pace. Such educators are skilled professionals. They are not simply babysit- ters minding children. Such basic care of children is not just a mechanical function requiring limited knowledge and abilities. It is the main purpose of the day, requiring specific knowledge and skills. Infants and preschool children may spend up to 55 hours a week in an early childhood program, or 2,640 hours annually, for a total of more than 13,200 hours through the preschool years. During this time, children learn basic skills they will use throughout their lives—skills necessary to half of the daily life of adults (eating, sleeping, walking, getting dressed, communicating, and so forth). “The key is to think through each part of the rou- tine from a developmental perspective” (Brickman and Taylor 1991, 43). Th e o r e t i c a l F r a m e w o rk On top of the official “program” of activities (sensory activities, motor activities, thematic activi- ties, language stimulation, educational outings, free play, outdoor play), basic activities and rou- tines benefit children’s development. Likely more than 50 percent of the time in early childhood edu- cational settings is dedicated to routine and transi- tion activities (80 percent with children 0–2 years), about 1,320 hours or more per year. This means that during their preschool years (0–5 years), a child in a child care setting spends 6,600 hours perform- ing routine and transition activities outside of the home. These numbers speak for themselves: they reveal the important role played by these moments in the life of a child and the necessity to devote attention to these routines and transitions. For the educator, routine and transition activ- ities constitute a special opportunity for personal contact with each and every child. Upon children’s arrival or departure or during nap or snack time, an educator devotes attention to the children as she communicates with them through words and smiles. (However, at these times, children may oppose the adult because of fatigue or difficulty in changing activities.) Transitions also provide the opportunity to practice language skills and encourage children to communicate with their peers. There is a lot of time for chatting during snacks, dressing, or undressing. These activities also provide opportunities to solve conflicts or to develop greater physical autonomy. A. What is a routine activity? A routine activity within an educational setting is a predictable basic activity that has to be performed daily. Such activities are generally scheduled at a fixed time and form the core of the day. A large number of routine activities are aimed at meet- ing basic needs such as eating, drinking, eliminat- ing, resting, breathing calmly, maintaining good hygiene, keeping warm, and so forth. The younger the child, the longer these routine tasks take, and the more frequently they occur. These tasks also require greater attention from an adult. The best- known routine activities with young children include: π Hygiene: hand washing, toothbrushing, toilet routines, and nose wiping π Snacks and meals