The Rainbow School

Oakland, CA

No longer in business

To see Department of Social Services records on this facility, click on its DSS Facility License # below.

DSS Facility License #: 
Dora Halperin
Language(s) Spoken: 
Editors' Notes: 
  • (June 2012)   Rainbow school owner Dora Halperin has retired, and  Rockridge Little School is now operating the site.

Parent Reviews

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

Jan 2008

We're considering Rainbow School for our 2 yr old toddler, who's been at home with mom until now. We'd really appreciate any comments from parents of recent or current students at the schools. Thank you very much!

Both of our kids went to Rainbow and we absolutely loved it. Reasons: The daily pace, the weekly activities, the occasional field trips. The emphasis on being a child and ''learning'' as in being part of the world, a safe, calm reliable structure to figure out everything from potty-training to the best way to use scissors to negotiating with other kids. I received so much support and advice, and my kids loads of love and guidance.

There has been a core staff of two, but the director does her best to hire long-term - she offers competitive salary and benefits, but there is a shortage of good pre-school teachers. But even though our kids saw several faces come and go, we thought they were all great and everyone had their very valid reasons for leaving (goals of elementary school teaching, spouses moving, etc).

Choosing a pre-school is tough - how can you possibly know when it's your first?? But I've seen a lot of different types of kids in the several years we attended Rainbow, and every single one of them was happy there. Mom of Two

February 2005

I would love to hear some recent reviews/feedback of the Rainbow preschool. I'm hoping to send my son there next fall. How have parents liked the teachers and how have your children enjoyed the school? Thanks! Stephanie

My son has been at Rainbow since July 2003. We could not be happier with the school. A few things we particularly like:

Dora, the director, spends almost the full day on the floor with the kids. This compares favorably to the many highly educated directors who sit in the back office and drop in occasionally. Dora has a PhD in early childhood education and takes several trips and courses every year to refresh her credentials. She is a little quirky but if you can get over that you will really appreciate her deep experience and great concern and care for the children in her school. We learn a ton by watching her.

We like the play-based approach. We were turned off by the preschools that were quiet, controlled, and more ''academic''. This is a personal fit thing and you can tell by watching the kids and teachers if you like the slightly noiser, but clearly fun, environment at Rainbow.

We like the other teachers, Julie and Maryam a great deal. This past year has been really tough for the teachers as they have had a lot of turnover in the 4th teacher position for various reasons: husband took job in NY, and two others who were not a great ''fit''. The turnover is certainly not ideal but has not affected our son at all. He's had continuity with the other three teachers, all the kids, and the regular volunteer, Rose Mary.

I visited over 13 preschools before landing on Rainbow. I think it is really a special place: clean, well lit, organized, thoughtful choice of toys and manipulatives, and excellent staff. I think you will be extremely happy with your choice. colin

February 2003

Re: Intimate, warm preschool with fewer than 20 kids
Hi Laura, I don't know where you live, but I can recommend a preschool that fits your description and is located in the Rockridge area. It's called the Rainbow School on Taft Avenue. The school has an excellent reputation. I believe there is a maximum of 24 children, mixed ages. The director/owner has a PhD in early childhood education. Good luck finding what you're after Shoshana

March 2003

We absolutely love the Rainbow School preschool on Taft in Oakland and are hoping to send our daughter there in the Fall. However, we are shocked to see juice, highly processed and high sugar foods being offered for snack. The director commented that she gives fruit in the summer. We have never given our daughter juice as it is highly correlated with childhood obesity nor do we feed her Kraft macaroni and cheese. We have no problem sending a separate snack but don't want to create a problem with our child somehow feeling separate. How have other parents at the school handled this? Any suggestions? Thanks very much.

My child attends Rainbow School. Yes, some of the processed foods bother me, and although I know the juices served offer little that children need, I was not aware of any link to childhood obesity.

However, I think that the quality of snacks overall is okay - I think there is a good balance throughout the week. I'm okay with the less-than-healthy stuff because 1) my child doesn't always eat it 2) my child burns off a lot of energy 3) most of the parents do provide other beverages 4) due to various reasons, several children are supplied with alternative snacks 5) we don't serve processed stuff at home.

You should ask the director, but my personal observations of pre-schoolers is that they don't tend to ostracize or feel left out when they have different needs. I do think the school is terrific!

As another parent of a Rainbow School student, I wanted to add my belated 2 cents. The director has been running the school for over 20 years, and I think she knows what kids will and won't eat. I also think she knows what it costs to run a good school - decent wages and benefits to ensure good, reliable staff, overhead costs, etc. I also believe she knows the cost of feeding a crowd of picky pre-schoolers with a variety of allergies, preferences, and requirements. I believe she goes for the best middle ground. The school serves snacks twice a day. Parents provide the lunch. Water is the only beverage available outside snack time. It is not processed food and juice at every sitting. You could serve only organic fruit, vegetables, yogurt, etc to pre-schoolers, but to have them pick at it or refuse it day after day and know that you are literally throwing money away can be very frustrating.

While it's a nice idea to have "only the best" for one's child outside the home, it's not always possible or feasible. Good nutrition is ultimately my job. School is not my child's home. anonymous

Jan 2002

Has anyone sent their kid/s to The Rainbow School in Oakland? Any information about the director and/or the teachers would be greatly appreciated.

My two children (daughter and son) each spent three years at Rainbow, overlapping for one year in the middle - thus our association spanned five years and ended last August when my son left for kindergarten. I conducted what I consider to have been a pretty thorough search for preschools many years ago, and had a fairly clearly defined sense of what I was looking for. I wanted a developmentally based program, with mixed age groups under one roof, learning from and engaged with one another, in a safe, heathly environment with kind caring skilled teachers. I would say that Rainbow came very very close to meeting those goals. My kids really thrived, were well regarded by the teachers (which is important) created wonderful friendships, and learned a great deal at their own pace. They were totally prepared for kindergarten when it was time to move on. There is both structure and socialization and lots of free time and activity. Every day has the same basic routine, although there are field trips, walks to the Rockridge Library, and specialist (storyteller, music person) who come in on a regular basis. The school is in a well-designed, well-maintained home just off of Broadway, always clean and well-organized, with a great backyard. It is a very parent-friendly as well, open many days when other schools are not, and less expensive than many. There was some staffing turnover as we left, which is for the best, since some of the teachers were frankly pretty worn out and the new teachers are really quite wonderful.

The director, Dora Halpern, is a very wise educator, very different than my own style, but my kids loved her and I felt they benefitted from someone whose way of doing things was different than mine. And indeed my kids were the beneficiaries of her experience. Feel free to reach me for further information if you'd like. Deborah

I have also had a very positive experience at Rainbow School. My older child has been there for 1.5 years and my younger one will start in the fall.

The new teachers are wonderful, creative, warm, and nurturing. The director is fabulous with the kids and has been a great resource for me as a parent. The school is bright, cheerful, stimulating and well run (and very clean!) The balance between free play and structured activities is right in line with my expectations for this age group.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions about the school. jill

There is an excellent preschool on Taft Avenue (cross street Broadway) called The Rainbow School. I was a teacher there before going on to become an elementary teacher. I love the school. It's child friendly, extremely clean, and there are both open activities and structured activities. The philosophy is developmental. The director has a PhD in education and has great concern for the children in her care. I can't say exactly what time it starts in the morning, but I know that the latest pick-up time is 5:30pm. There are no signs on the outside indicating that it is a preschool and they do not advertise. The preschool has been in existence for many years and goes by word of mouth. There's usually a waiting list. I recommend you call the director and tour the school. Her name is Dora Halperin. The school's number is 658-2034. Shoshana