Play performs an important position in holistic child development. Bangladesh has made a commitment to extending the opportunity for play based learning in early years settings, but this is not without its problems. The imposition of western norms and expectations around the concept of play clash with the economic realities of families and schools in Bangladesh. This study explores the views and concepts of pre-primary teachers on their understanding and integration of play-based learning in pre-primary contexts of Bangladesh. A qualitative approach was adopted using semi-structured interviews with open questions to probe participants’ teaching-learning experiences. Although play is considered important for child development, enabling children’s social, emotional, mental, cognitive and intellectual skills, several challenges, both conceptual and environmental, mean the adoption of a playful approach is constrained and in need of revision. A key theme that emerges is the ingenuity and self-reliance of teachers, working amidst a number of constraints and with minimal training. Self-reflection and learning from the children in their classes are important processes with which teachers engage in the transition to an adoption of more playful conceptions of the curriculum.
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playful learning, early years, environmental constraints, professional development, Bangladesh