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 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. 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 is inestimable. 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 education programs Life in an early childhood program is packed with activities that promote the development of the