Queensland's Prep Year is in full swing with more than 29,000 children responding enthusiastically to their first year of school.
Most of them are learning in groups in a traditional classroom setting but others are receiving their lessons in remote areas of the state and as far away as Papua New Guinea.
There are seven Schools of Distance Education catering for families living in isolated regions in Queensland and to Australia's near north, and this year they are teaching 111 children enrolled in Prep.
While children in regular classrooms learn alongside others of the same age, these children sometimes are the only one in their class, or they share a room with one or two brothers or sisters working at different levels.
Their work comes to them through a variety of curriculum materials and daily phone lessons supervised either by a parent or home tutor.
Mount Isa School of the Air Prep teacher, Annette Moes, says teachers in distance education take a different approach when teaching children in remote regions.
"What sets Prep in Distance Ed apart is we are a school of families, not just of children, and families are fully involved in delivering the program," Annette says.
"We provide a field program that engages the whole family and that includes fathers. Many fathers participate in Prep activities."
Mount Isa School of Distance Education participated in the Prep trial phase-in for three years before Prep was launched across the state this year.
In that time there was a lot of consultation between the Distance Learning Unit in Brisbane, where the program was written, and home tutors and teachers from the Mount Isa, Longreach and Charleville Schools of Distance Education.
Brisbane School of Distance Education teacher Cath Priaulx pictured left, is really enjoying her job teaching a multi-age class with Prep and Year 1 students.
Cath says she uses a range of information communications technology (ICT) to communicate and encourage social interaction between herself and her students.
"The work is rewarding because of the diversity. I'm working with students but I'm also working closely with their home tutor and parents."
Early Phase Principal Policy Advisor with the Department of Education,Training and the Arts, Anne Marie Boyle, says the introduction of the full-time Prep Year would have a signifi cant impact on the future of Queensland.
"The 'play and inquiry' approach to learning provides a firm foundation for developing children's social skills, literacy, numeracy and performance at school," Ms Boyle says.
"It also helps them make a smooth transition to Year 1 and lays the foundation for lifelong learning."
Ms Boyle says the full-time program provided continuity and allowed ample time for children to engage in new endeavours and favourite activities.
"Children are not losing interest in learning because they're building on their skills every day," Miss Boyle says.
"That exposure to play-based learning is having enormous benefits for children and families wherever they are learning across the state."
Children need to be aged five years by 30 June in the year they enrol in Prep.
For further information on Prep visit the website.
Nakita Corlis, who lives on a 13,000 hectare cattle station north-west of Richmond and 500 km from Mount Isa, is enrolled in the Prep curriculum through the Mount Isa School of Distance Education.
"I love what we do on School of the Air because we do different kinds of stuff and cool things we've never done before," says Nakita.
Nakita's mother, Fiona, is enjoying her new role of home tutor. She likes the close contact with her daughter and knowing first-hand how she is progressing.
"The Learning Guides are well presented and easy to understand and I'm clear about what I have to do and the outcomes to expect," says Fiona, who also has a one-year-old daughter Skyla.
But living in the bush means she has to be flexible.
"I try to follow a routine but sometimes that depends on other family commitments or work that may need to be done outside."
Fiona says Nakita enjoys her daily telephone lesson and loves the social interaction that comes with talking to other children.
"She's really looking forward to spending one-on-one time with Miss Annette when she makes a home visit."