Press and Quotes


Mom: Oh Kindergym!  I’m glad you remember Kindergym with Dawn.

Former Kindergym Student, now age 4.5:  “Oh, I definitely remember Kindergym.  I LOVED Kindergym.  It’s really
Mom:  Did you know that when you start kindergarten, your brother will be old enough to start going to Kindergym?
Son:  Wow!  He will be old enough?  He’s so lucky!  He’s going to LOVE Kindergym”.
-As told by Grandpa Dan Fendel, on BPN website and Yelp


I have just the answer for you… Kindergym at TBA!  Every time my girls walk in, they act like it’s their birthday party.  Their faces light up and
they race around from rocking horse to ball pit to water table to play dough to climbing structure, etc
The director (Dawn) is awesome and it’s so much fun!

Kari, BPN website

“At the center of it all (Kindergym), was the hyperkenetic Dawn Margolin, Kindergym’s guiding light and longtime leader. She knew each child’s name and had hugs for all…She bounces like a bunny, choo-choos like a train, then breaks into an effervescent rendition of “Bye, Bye Bubbles”, while blowing a bubble wand. Commented one mother to another, ‘I don’t know what she eats for breakfast, but I’d like some!'”
– From: One Mom’s Guide to Kiddie Gyms, by Sarah Smith, BerkeleyParents’ Network

I took our son for almost two years and loved it. Dawn, the teacher, does a great job at providing a great variety of play for the kids, and she’s got a great background in child development to help with all those crazy developmental questions that come up. Both my son and I made some good friends in the class. I can’t say enough – it’s a great place to play, meet others, learn more about parenting, etc.  We usually go on Fridays because we like to do the tot Shabbat (we’re Jewish) but there are lots of other families that are not – it’s a great way to teach your kids about other cultures!

I have been surprised by what I found at Kindergym.

Taking my second son Levi when he was 18 months to Kindergym was my opportunity to have special play time with him while his brother was at school.  We went seeking space to play, and found community, friendship and guidance from Dawn.  I soon learned that what on the surface was a large play space, really was a laboratory for parents, children and Dawn as facilitator to observe our children and learn respectful parenting techniques through the R.I.E method.  “The basics of Magda Gerber’s RIE philosophy is respect for, and trust in the baby to be an initiator, and explorer, and a self learner.” (As described on Magda Gerbers Web Site.)  Dawn believes in this, as I do, and is seeking moments to gently encourage new parents to trust their children, look for opportunities to explore rather than teach them how.  Dawn does this by providing “an environment for the child that is physically safe, cognitively challenging and emotionally nurturing.” (See also Magda Gerber’s web site, cited above.)

With my second child I was able to more effectively use the RIE methods in Kindergym’s space and gain so much more intimacy with Levi’s development, interest, and deepen our trust because of this environment.  There were several times that Levi would interact with other children, and because of the setting Dawn creates, the parents were able to see eye to eye, and side coach our children to solve their own problems.  Taking Levi to his first group play experience, and being able to observe him, rather than drop him off is a privilege for which I am grateful.  In this setting he has thrived, learned to trust his instincts, be a part of a group, learn routine and leadership, and now, as one of the older littles here, to build a bond with Dawn and with other friends he has in the class.

I would recommend this play space to anyone with small children. It is an inclusive, diverse, multilingual group, with a truly special leader at its helm.  My 15 years as an arts educator has sharpened my focus when it comes to collaborative classroom teachers.  I truly trust Dawn, love her and cherish the time Levi and I have spent at Kindergym.

Sincerely, Katie Issel Pitre, MA

Teaching Artist SF Opera


Dawn is full of positive energy and loves interacting with both the children and their adults.  The atmosphere is friendly and comfortable.  I attended for five years when children were under age three.  They looked forward to it and so did I!  I hope you will give it a try.

We went to Kindergym for a little over a year, until we moved out of Oakland about a year ago. I can’t recommend it highly enough! My son, husband, and I absolutely loved the program. There was tons of stuff to do, plenty of room, lots of good climbing/gross motor activities. To top it all off, Dawn, the ”teacher,” was the best. She made a point, every single session, to interact with every kid and parent/caregiver there. This is no small feat, because it was always very well attended. Dawn always remembered not only my son’s name, but my name and my husband’s, too — after the first time we met her. Also, Dawn has a real gift for circle time…It was just the right energy level for this age group. I wish we still lived in Oakland, so that I could look forward to attending Kindergym with my younger son.
– Grace, Berkeley Parents Network website

Kindergym is a fabulous program for preschoolers of all ages. The atmosphere is casual and friendly, Dawn has amazing amounts of energy and simply adores the children, and there is a wide variety of activities for your child to choose from. Some of the special benefits of Kindergym include (a) one parent/adult can bring more than one child (i.e. siblings or twins or a nanny share) (b) parents take turns bringing juice and graham crackers (or challah on Fridays) for snack (c) there are no ”products” for sale (d) Dawn sings her amazing original songs at various activities around the room and during parachute and bubbles time at the end of class. On Fridays only there is a great Shabbat experience for those who are interested but it is an equally comfortable atmosphere as non-Shabbat days for people of any religion. My son Micah attended Kindergym from 18 months until 4 years old and my son Jonah began at birth and is still attending at 2 years old. We hope to see you there!
– Karen

My toddler and I have loved going to Kindergym at Temple Beth Abraham! The teacher, Dawn Margolin, is such a warm soul and loves playing with the children (all of whom she knows by name). The play space is filled with great toys, ride-ons, blocks, books, climbing structures and even a ball pit. After lots of free play and a short clean-up, the children gather for circle time. On Friday mornings, Dawn & Rabbi Bloom celebrate Shabbat with the children. (Other weekday mornings, however, are not religious.) My toddler enjoyed it so much; now I’m looking forward to starting the next session with my baby!
– Jen F.

I just finished taking my second child to Kindergym (he began preschool this year) at Temple Beth Abraham and I highly recommend this program to all. It was a fabulous experience for my children, allowing them to socialize with other young children and experiment with both fine and gross motor activities. It gave me the opportuniy to meet many other moms, dads, and caregivers. Dawn Margolin, the program creator and director, is amazing!! She is one of the most energetic and sweet women I know and is a fantastic advocate for young children. As an added bonus, on Fridays Rabbi Bloom and his guitar join the fun for a mini Shabbat including candles, juice, challah, and of course, lots of singing. Everyone is made to feel so welcome!
– Ronni


Kindergym with Dawn Margolin at Temple Beth Abraham is of legendary status in the East Bay. I first heard about Kindergym from a couple of mom friends (who all said I “had” to go) and have found it to be such a wonderful part of both being a parent and having a very active toddler. My son loves his “gym” and Dawn has created such a wonderful, warm, diverse, welcoming, educational, fun and safe environment. She herself is a force for good and acceptance and this energy feeds the environment at Kindergym. Not only does it get the wiggles out when my son gets to climb, slide, jump and play in so many fun spots of this large room, but I get to talk with other parents, get to know our community and learn more about being the kind of parent that is present for my child in a way that I can sustain. We love Kindergym, love Dawn and love being a part of this extended family.

Amy, in Berkeley Parents Network, Jan 25, 2017