WATCH: Bush kids head to school of a different kind
CASH Crawford made "a few new mates" this week.
And the five-year-old reckons he'll stay in touch with them once he heads back out to the "countryside".
The Capricornia School of Distance Education Prep student, who lives out near Theodore, made the trip into Rockhampton this week to take part in a mini-school.
He was among several students from E-kindy to Year Nine who travelled from geographically isolated places to meet their teachers and classmates, which is a highlight for the students who complete their schooling at home.
Head of campus at the Rockhampton branch of the Capricornia School of Distance Education Teresa Anderson said the students stayed for the entire week.
"The students get the chance to talk to their teachers and meet each other, which is really important, the face-to-face contact and building relationships," she said.
"We run lots of professional development for the home tutors, which are the parents at the same time."
Teresa said some of the students were meeting each other and their teachers for the first time.
"It is absolutely vital, especially for the younger ones, to come in and meet each other because they teach lessons on the internet," she said.
"They do have web cam but it's really important that they do get to meet and see each other face-to-face to see what the students can do as well, so that connection is really important for us."
And with enrolments for distance education on the rise, Teresa said mini-schools were becoming increasingly more important, not only for bush kids but for the wider community.
"It's not only kids in the bush, it's kids in care, students who are not coping in mainstream schools. We have a lot of medical enrolments as well," she said.
"But for the kids in the bush it's fantastic. It gives them lots of opportunities. We still have swimming carnivals and athletic carnivals, they don't miss out on anything."
Learning over the internet as opposed to in the classroom does bring its challenges, with the biggest issue being trying to build a relationship and rapport with people through a computer while factoring in the technology barriers.
For instance, Teresa said if the internet went down during the lesson it created massive issues.
However she said a phenomenal amount of planning had gone into the week to ensure every issue was addressed so distance education was at its best.
"We try and give them as much group work as possible but a lot of planning goes into the professional development of the home tutors as well, because if the home tutors are on the ball and know what they are doing and feel supported then when they go back to their home they can do a really good job."
Cash was also joined by Year Two student Phoebe Moffat at the mini-school this week.
They both agreed coming into town and getting to see other students was a big plus when it came to schooling.
"I'm from the country. I mainly learn from home over the computer," seven-year-old Phoebe said.
"We go onto collaborate and we do all our lessons and we have home tutors that sit and help us.
"My favourite part about living in the country and staying at home for school is riding my horses and my dog called Bolto, he is very sweet."
Cash said his favourite part about school in town was learning all about different things and making friends.
"I'm from the countryside," he said.
"I normally do school at home and have come to do school here. My favourite part about living in the country is going in the ute and I go in the ute loads to muster up cattle.
"I love school. It took me nearly two hours to get here. I live all the way out of town. I would like to see other kids every day. I've made a few mates and I reckon I'll stay in touch."