Parent Info


We work alongside parents ‘in partnership’ to provide the very best service for your child when in our care. Our approach to engaging with you starts here, and we strive to keep you in the loop with everything we do.

During the recent lockdown we sent weekly updates on what our next steps were, our parents loved us for it and they returned knowing we were doing everything we could to keep the ‘family’ safe.

Click the plus arrow next to each title to find our more..

“When I was looking for a nursery for my little boy I knew what I was looking for and when I came to visit The Dolphin I knew they were what I was looking for. The staff are all so lovely, kind and helpful! I know I can put all my trust in them to care for my boy! They get up to a lot of activities indoors and outdoors and you will see this in their ‘all about me book’ which I love!

My boy has only been there a few months now but he loves it when he’s there and I know I don’t have to worry because I know all the staff especially his key worker will see to all his needs and call me if they needed.

100% the best nursery in Exmouth.”

Here at The Dolphin Pre-school and Nursery our curriculum is based upon the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS) which is defined by the Department for Education (DfE).

The Early Years Foundation Stage framework is reflected in our practice within an environment that ensures children experience a variety of rich play experiences which are carefully planned.

We encourage children to reach their full potential whilst allowing them to develop at their own pace. Each child’s development is closely monitored and encouraged.

Click here to read A Parents Guide to the EYFS >

Here at the Dolphin we use a variety of ways to communicate with parents to ensure they are fully engaged as partners, our preferred choice will always be face to face and to enable this we have a key person system in place.

Each child is allocated a ‘Key Person’ who is responsible for documenting their development through the different stages of the framework, this person will change as your child moves through the nursery. The key person keeps parents updated on their child’s progress and will formally arrange a parents evening twice a year, these are a great chance to chat without the normal day to day pressures.

Your child’s key person will strive to ensure your child’s care needs are met, giving you the confidence to leave your child at the nursery. The key person will support your child to explore and play freely but feel safe within the environment. They will have activities and quality learning experiences planned for them based on their individual needs.

Whilst this person will deal with most things during your child’s time with us, we also encourage both the children and parents to bond with the whole team in each room. This avoids any issues should there be any sickness or holidays for any member of the team.

We produce a daily diary for younger children which gives a written overview of the important parts of your child’s day. This is a formal record of food eaten, nappies changed and sleeps taken during the day, we aim to cover this during hand over as well.

We also have an ‘All about me’ book and again the key person will add photos and observations to this book along with any other important information for you.

Our ‘All about me’ books are not only a record of achievements, but also a keepsake for parents and often a reason they have chosen us over another setting which may use an online journal.

They will come home for you to enjoy together on your child’s last day of the week. We encourage parents to also use this book not only for notes to your key person but also to add pictures and short notes about your child’s time away from nursery.  You can also email us pictures to add in for you.

We use several songs throughout the day for different transitions, such as tidying up and washing hands. We like to share them with parents as this often helps if you use them at home also.

To get the children’s attention we use:

“1,2,3 Eyes on me”

Children to respond:

“1,2 Eyes on you”

To get children to stop we use:

“Everybody stop now, just like me”

To encourage positive sitting at carpet time we use:

“I like the way that MYA’s sitting, I like the way that Elodie’s sitting, I like the way that Ben is sitting… can you sit like them?”

To encourage listening at carpet time we use:

“Put your finger on your lips like this…shhh

Put your finger on your lips like this.. shh

Put your finger on your lip, close your mouth with a zip, put your finger on your lips like this”

To get children to wash their hands Babies and Busy Bee’s use:

“If your name is sebby sebby sebby if your name is Sebby please wash your hands” Continue for every child.

To encourage good manners, we use:

“Please and thank you, please and thank you, we must say, we must say, manners are important, manners are important every day every day”.

Dolphin song:

“Twinkle twinkle dolphin star, we are proud of who we are, learning laughing having fun, learning laughing all day long. Twinkle twinkle dolphin star, we are proud of who we are”.

We love to get out and about in the community, we enjoy going to the beach, park, library and soft play areas. When going out on a trip, if we are using a local play park we will always make sure the area is checked as we arrive to insure that it is safe.

When out all children wear a high visibility vest and when walking normally use a wrist strap. We also have a walking bus and use ‘walking’ pairs to ensure children are kept safe and together.

The team always take with them a nursery phone, first aid kit and suitable drinks and snacks for the children.

Lunch is a great way to explore and develop children’s independence during a part of the day which is often overlooked, we use this time to encourage good table manners and promote independence.

This starts with the child washing their hands and then finding themselves a place at a table, this is often as part of the key group or colour group.

The tables are laid with plates, cups and cutlery (china plates and glasses for over 2’s) however food is then served to each table in bowls, the children ‘help’ themselves, team members also sit with the children to encourage and help them with the serving.  They also encourage conversation, aiming to make it a social and happy time and promote good eating habits.  Children are always encouraged to ensure they have eaten enough food, when finished they scrape their own plate and put ready for washing.  The children are then encouraged to select their own pudding and sit back down.

Once finished children are again encouraged to wash/wipe their face using a mirror and then are ready for the afternoon.

This process is used across all age ranges, even our youngest babies, more support is required of course however they quickly pick it up and then look to do more and more for themselves.

Children develop at a fast rate and diets require the right kind of tasty nutritious foods to encourage healthy growth. This means they need good carbohydrates to give them energy, protein to build their bodies and essential vitamins and minerals for healthy bones and teeth.

We offer a tasty balanced diet, this means they need good source of carbohydrates to give them energy, protein to build their bodies and essential vitamins and minerals for healthy bones and teeth, this will help them grow into a healthy individual.

We are fully committed to improving nutrition standards and are enthusiastic about healthy eating within early years. All our food is home cooked by the fabulous Louise, mainly from scratch and alongside our main menu each day we offer a vegetarian option. Where possible we use local suppliers for our meat and fruit/veg, this is especially important following the COVID-19 pandemic #shoplocal.

We continually develop our meals so they are nutritionally balanced and exciting for the children. Also ensuring they meet the voluntary standards as laid out by the Children’s Food Trust. For more information on the guidelines, visit their website at

Dietary requirements can be catered for and we always work with parents to ensure they still have ‘similar’ to their peers.

Click here to see a sample menu. >

Routine for under 2’s

7.30am – 8.00am – The children will be welcomed by a member of the team, the children are then invited into the Busy Bee’s Room for free play.
8.00am – 10.00am –We venture upstairs to Little Explorers or Little Dino’s for free play with age appropriate and selected toys.
10.00am – 11.30am – A healthy snack is provided for the children. The children will have their nappies changed and then children take part in an adult led activity and will enjoy some time in the garden.
11.30am – 11.50pm – We tidy up our toys and we take part in a focus circle time, this may be social interactions, listening and attention games or small group circle games.
11.50pm – 12.30pm – The children will all sit down together to enjoy a healthy lunch.
12.30pm – 2.00pm – If your child requires a sleep this will be the time for them to have a sleep.
2.30pm – 3.50pm-Once the children are awake the children sit down together to enjoy a small snack and drink. The children’s nappies will be changed and then they can enjoy some free choice play.
3.55pm – 4.00pm – We tidy up and then sit down and enjoy our tea.
4.30pm-6.00pm – This is home time for some of the children so we say goodbye to the children while the other children enjoy some time outside or some free flow play.

Over 2’s

7:30am-8:00am – All children are invited into The Busy Bee room for free play and then Pre School children/Babies separate into their own rooms

8:00am – fun-filled activities where children can freely choose what they would like to explore in both rooms

9:15/9.30am– Circle time to do the register and go through the visual timetable and then we split into small groups

10.00am-  Children to get busy

– focused learning

– Small group work

– Outside open and ‘café’ style healthy snack

11:00am – 11:45am – Outdoor play with planned activities.

11:45am-12:00pm – Story and singing time

12:00pm-12:30pm – Lunch time (see menu)

12.30pm – 12.45pm -Sleepers ready to go upstairs

12:45pm-2:00pm – Sleep time for those who need it/table top activities and sensory tray for those who stay awake

2:00pm-2:30pm – Nappy Changing time/toileting

2:30pm-2:45pm – Biscuit and water time

2:45pm-3:00pm – Circle time activity

3:00pm-3:45pm – Outside on the decking/inside exercise (tumble tots/yoga)

3:45pm-4:00pm – Story time

4:00pm-4:30pm – Tea time (see menu)

4:30pm-6:00pm – All children join back up in the Busy Bee’s room until home time and nappies/toileting will take place!

Weaning is the process of moving your baby from a purely milk diet to the inclusion of solid foods. The first stage of weaning helps lay the foundations for healthy eating habits and teaches your baby how to eat from a spoon, swallow and eventually chew.

​Weaning is an exciting milestone for both parents and children although it can be slightly daunting at times. We are dedicated to supporting you and your child to ensure weaning is a happy, positive and enjoyable experience.

NHS guidelines suggest that weaning should be based on a number of considerations, including the baby’s age, gestation at birth, development and growth rate.

​Nobody knows your child like you do and we will be led by you. Once you’ve decided to wean your baby he/she will be offered the same meal as all the other children and we will make this to the puree that suits them. They will include mashed foods, finger foods and new textures for them to experience at mealtimes.

​We will also introduce a sipping cup to encourage your baby to drink water. Your baby will also be offered a spoon to help them explore and develop independent eating.

Early identification of speech, language or communication needs – Let’s ‘Talk’ More –

This screening helps early identification and provides the support required, we are one of only a few settings that have been trained to complete the assessment. The concept behind the programme is to move away from the transition way of ‘watch and wait’ which is often seen within this age group.

With parental permission a ‘Let’s Talk More’ screening will be completed within a child’s day at nursery by Mel, Katherine and Kyah as they have been trained and can now carry out these screenings.

We are very happy that we can offer this service within our Dolphin family where the child is in a relaxing and comfortable environment with a team member they are at ease with.

The team can then work closely supporting the family and the child with appropriate support.

There are 2 screens used: one for children aged 2 years to 2 years and 5 months and the only from 2 years 6 months  to 2 years and 11 months. Children are then identified as either Red, Amber, and Green.

Green – No difficultly identified/ no intervention required

Amber- A mild/moderate difficultly identified and targeted intervention support required. This is provided to parents through discussion/demonstration of core strategies and specific strategies (linked to the child’s needs). The child will be re-screened after 12 weeks and we often find that with the support they are moved to green.

Red – A moderate/significant difficultly identified and requiring specialist support. Children are referred to speech and language therapy/audiology. On receiving a Red screening we would refer this immediately to our in house SEN coordinator who will start supporting both the child and parent with activities that can be used straight away, this would be similar to what we would offer an amber screening.

Let’s Talk more core strategies will be used within the setting and be given to use at home.

We understand that when the time comes for your child to move rooms, it can be very exciting but also strange and sometimes unsettling for both you and your child. Therefore, the team will work closely with you and your child to ensure a smooth transition into their new room.

The team will –

  • Provide you with information about the new room, the new team, who your child’s new key person is and a date for when visits will start.
  • Ensure your child has planned visits at different times of the day, so they can fully experience their new routine.
  • Ensure you have a verbal conversation with your child’s new key worker.
  • Provide you with a ‘show around’ of the new room, outlining key aspects such as where your child’s peg is and any other essential information.
  • Provide you with a document so we can have up to date information on your child, such as sleep and dietary requirements.

We understand some children may require additional support during this time, we will work closely with you and your child to ensure the correct strategies are implemented for your child’s needs.

If your child looks to you for encouragement and direction, try to talk to your child positively about moving rooms and let them know they’re going to have a wonderful time.

  • At The Dolphin Pre-school and Nursery we support and prepare our children in starting school by working in partnership with you and the local schools to make the transition as smooth as possible.
  • We support the children’s personal, social and emotional development by encouraging the children to make friends and support them to communicate their needs. We understand that these early experiences are important in building confidence and self- esteem which will help them when they start school.
  • The children also have fun planned activities which support school readiness.
  • The term before your child starts school we will send home a ‘School readiness’ information sheet. This provides you with information on what we have been working on with your child and the level of independence schools typically expect. This document also has a few common question and answers on the back to reduce some anxieties you may have. You can find this document here >
  • Our children hang their own coats on their pegs and self-register when they come into nursery.
  • In the term before the children start school, we liaise with the schools and invite the teachers into the nursery to visit the children. We also complete a transition report for your child, detailing all your child’s achievements.

Trust us… we understand that potty training isn’t easy but we are on hand to support you through this process. It vitally important to… Be consistent, keep calm, keep positive. There will always be accidents but we will all deal with them, all our toilets are small and easily accessible to enable the best possible chance of success.

When the time comes, we will work closely with you as the main carer and ensure there is consistency between home and nursery.

Our Team have had extensive training from Debbie Richard who is the Early Years Healthy Bladder and Bowel Educator for Northern Devon Healthcare Trust!

The ‘operation pants programme’ expanded our knowledge and understanding of how to transition children from nappies to pants, with new tips and ideas to achieve potty training.

At the heart of all potty/toilet training it is essential that enough fluids are consumed on a daily basis. Recommended intakes for children per day are:1 – 3 yr olds:     900 mls
4 – 8 yr olds:     1200 mls

At Dolphin we use this as a guide for all children and offer 3 complete cups of drink at 3 intervals – Mid Morning, Lunch and then Mid Afternoon.  Any additional fluids over this are a bonus and certainly should not be discouraged.

If you are unsure if your child is ready, here are some signs of readiness for Potty Training

  • Has a good level of understanding and the ability to follow instruction and communicate
  • Has an ability to sit on the potty/toilet
  • Has no signs of constipation
  • Can indicate when needing a wee
  • Can pull up and down pants.
  • Shows interest in others toilet habits.
  • Desires independence.
  • Can communicate when wet or soiled.
  • Tries to remove own nappy when soiled.
  • Might be dry at night.

When you are ready, speak to one of the team if you would like anymore help or what you are trying isn’t working.

We accept 2 year funding for eligible children, this in the form of 11 hours per week over the 51 years we are open.

Parents can apply for this funding if they live in England and get one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit, and your household income is £15,400 a year or less after tax, not including benefit payments
  • tax credits, and your household income is £16,190 a year or less before tax
  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

2-year-olds can also get funded childcare if they:

Contact your childcare provider or local council to find out more.

Additional Service charge for 2 year funded children

Unfortunately, government funding for early years has failed to increase in line with inflation. Therefore, we are forced to charge a weekly service charge for all our funded children.

This is £5 per week for those using 11 hours.

This service charge still sees many parents paying much less than they otherwise would, it also allows us to pay our hard working team the necessary wage and they can continue to create amazing activities. The charge also covers such things, but not limited to, snacks, crafts, sun cream, outings and much more.

For further information or to check your eligibility and then apply please visit or call 0345 155 1013.

Universal funded

We currently offer all children 11 hours of funded childcare from the term after their 3rd birthday.  This is automatically deducted from your child’s invoice and we claim this direct from the government.

Extended Funded

There are certain situations in which parents can claim additional ‘extended’ funding which allows them to access 22 hours of funded childcare, however you will need to apply through the HM Revenue and Customs website, please see our useful links page.

If you’re eligible for 22 hours funded childcare, you’ll receive a 22 hours eligibility code.

We require you to complete and return a form which will contain your 11 digit eligibility code, your National Insurance number, your child’s date of birth and your signature which gives us permission to process your request to access the funding.

Please note that we require the code before the beginning of the term that you wish to claim for. (i.e. 31st March for April start, 31st August for September start, 30th December for January start.)

Every three months, you’ll need to reconfirm that you’re still eligible, you’ll be reminded to reconfirm 4 weeks before the deadline.

We wont need to see the code each time, our systems will recheck the same code.

If you fall out of eligibility the funding doesn’t stop straight away, there is a grace period of up to a term. This allows for you to either reduce your child’s hours or for your situation to change to fall back into eligibility.

Additional Service charge for 3/4 year funded children

Unfortunately, government funding for early years has failed to increase in line with inflation. Therefore, we are forced to charge a weekly service charge for all our funded children.

This is £5 per week for those using 11 hours and £10 per week for those accessing 22 hours per week.

This service charge still sees many parents paying much less than they otherwise would, it also allows us to pay our hard working team the necessary wage and they can continue to create amazing activities. The charge also covers such things, but not limited to, snacks, crafts, sun cream, outings and much more.

For further help and information you can call HM Revenue and Customs Helpline on 0300 123 4097 or click on the link here.

The funding known as Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) is available to children aged three and four years whose parents or carers are in receipt of certain benefits or for children who have been in care or have left care through adoption or child arrangement orders.

How can the extra funds help my child?

This extra funding can be used in lots of ways to give them the best start in life and prepare them for full time school.

For example, the funding can be used to provide:-

  • Specialist training for staff e.g. speech and language development
  • Extra or individual support in a particular learning area
  • Extra equipment to support particular development
  • Additional staffing or staff hours to enable further support for your child

Do I qualify for EYPP?

If you receive one of the following benefits, you may be entitled to claim extra funding for your child:-

  • Income Support
  • Income based Job Seeker Allowance
  • Income related Employment and
  • Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (providing you are not also entitled to Working Tax
  • Credit and have an annual gross income of less than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Support under Part VI (six) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit

Or if your child:

  • Has been looked after by the local authority in care for at least one day
  • Has been adopted from care
  • Has left care through special guardianship or subject child arrangements orders

What do I do next?

  • If you think you may qualify, it’s quick and easy; complete an application form from the nursery office.

Tax-Free Childcare is the governments scheme to help working parents with the cost of childcare.

Parents of the youngest children will need to open an online account, which they can use to pay for childcare from a registered provider.

For every £8 a parent pays in, the government will pay in an extra £2. Parents can receive up to £2,000 per child, per year, towards their childcare costs, or £4,000 for disabled children.

For more information click here. >

This type of way to pay for your childcare is being phased out but as along as they remain open will we be able to accept them and we are registered with plenty. Here is our list with the information or account name/numbers that you may need to register.

Edenred – ID Number: P20732827

Sodexo – ID Number: 814245

Care–4 – ID Number: 89971439

Computer Share – ID Number: 0016339332

Apple childcare – ID Number: CA00003263

Faircare- ID Number: car24810

​If you are registered with another childcare voucher provider, please provide us with their details and we will happily create an account with them.

ICan – Speech and Language Assistance

Early Years Foundation Stage – Parents guide to understanding stages of development

Jolly Phonics – Learn about the Jolly Phonic method and resources

​HM Revenue and Customs 30 Hour Funding