Kindergarten teachers in Hong Kong are often criticised for not putting early childhood education theory into practice after their in-service training. It appears that they may be too concerned about academic work and discipline in the classroom and neglect to create a coherent vision of early childhood education. It might be suggested that kindergarten teachers have difficulties in coping with reform that advocates child-centred teaching approaches and active learning as the idealised vision of early childhood education when they have to cope with the Chinese cultural influence and parental demands for an early academic start. This article reviews the current teacher education provision and the cultural context of education in Hong Kong, and tracks the classroom strategies of kindergarten teachers in nine case studies. The findings of the study suggest that there is a general pattern for teaching in kindergartens. The culture of teaching tends to reflect the coping strategies of the teachers to overcome a triangle of potentially conflicting expectations and orientations: the vision of early childhood education, the Chinese culture, and local constraints. Moreover, simply training teachers would not ultimately change their practice unless the environment in which teachers work facilitated this. In view of this, teacher development and change are most possible if there is a change in views and attitudes towards teaching. Copyright © 2004 Symposium Journals Ltd.