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R OUTINES AND T R ANSITIONS Most people agree that the first years of life are sig- nificant determinants in a person’s development. Also, it’s known that the fulfillment of a child’s potential is not the fruit of chance. In the domains of physical, psychomotor, intellectual, social, and affective development, children are subjected to numerous influences that can, in large part, be controlled. Several studies emphasize the positive influence of quality early childhood programs, whether those programs are home or family child care settings, child care centers, preschools, or other types of programs. We also know that many children spend a large part of their childhood in such programs, sometimes more than two thou- sand hours a year. It is essential, therefore, to pro- vide excellent services that offer quality activities. Among these activities, routine and transition activities take up more than half of the schedule. 1.1 Childhood: A crucial period of life It would be inconceivable to write a book on rou- tine and transition activities in early childhood programs without first broaching the topic of child- hood. This book does so in simple terms, without focusing on the main early childhood development theories discussed at length in many texts. Through the centuries, following the evolution of societies, the concepts of children and childhood have changed often. Children have sometimes been seen as incomplete beings without intelligence or as cheap labor, and at other times they have been thought of as kings and queens, mysterious beings, or the promise of a better future. Regard- less of historical period, children have always been treated differently from adults (Papalia, Olds, and Feldman 1998). Only recently has scientific inquiry shed light on the nature of childhood and its obvious repercus- sions on the whole life of the individual. As of the beginning of the twenty-first century, childhood is considered to be a time not only to grow physically but also to learn and to prepare for the future. The creation of youth protection laws, the UNESCO adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (November 20, 1989), the establishment of community services supporting families, and the development of educational child care programs and play materials adapted to children bear wit- ness to the intrinsic value of childhood. Even if the cause of children’s rights remains an unfinished mission, its goal can be pursued, anchored in a solid foundation of research and values. It is ideal for children to live their childhoods in confidence, surrounded by responsible, consci- entious, and benevolent adults. Subconsciously, every child longs to be considered a person wor- thy of respect, with his own story and personal- ity. Our knowledge of children’s needs and an increased awareness of the importance of early childhood education are considerable influences on the educational methods that contribute to children’s development. Early childhood educa- tors will continually learn about children through professional resources, exchanges, and training, as well as through their regular and systematic obser- vations of children. All children have a need for security, hugs, stimulation, encouragement, and guidance. No matter what their origin, children should have the right to laugh, cry, feel vulnerable, get attached, move, explore, be frustrated, affirm themselves, sing, show pride, love life, and count on adults to defend their needs in order to grow in peace. Children are neither small adults nor defenseless beings. They are human beings in their own right, with incredible potential that we need to nurture as much as possible.