STAYING HOME: Harrison, Colin holding Samuel, and Emily Draper. Photo: Melissa Draper.
STAYING HOME: Harrison, Colin holding Samuel, and Emily Draper. Photo: Melissa Draper.

Family makes most of home schooling in virus crisis

SOUTH Burnett parents are preparing to guide their children through their schoolwork after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced schools would be closed to all but the children of essential workers and the vulnerable as of Monday.

While the prospect might seem daunting, Kingaroy's Draper family spent the last two weeks in self-isolation, and have enjoyed the experience.

Colin and Melissa Draper made the decision to keep their two school-aged children home from St John's Lutheran School after Kingaroy's first confirmed case of coronavirus was announced.

Mr Draper said it was an easy ­decision for them.

"We're in a unique situation because when the Kingaroy case was first confirmed our newborn Samuel was only a week old," he said.

"There was very little information out there about how this could affect newborns or older babies and since we had extended leave because of little Samuel, it just made sense to have the kids at home while we could help them out with their schoolwork."

Mr and Mrs Draper have spent the past fortnight helping their kids with their at-home learning plan, while also looking after the newest addition to their family.

"Harrison is five years old and in Grade 1," Mr Draper said.

"Emily is eight years old and in Grade 3.

"The decision to keep them at home was all for Samuel. We just want to keep him safe."

The Drapers aren't just keeping their kids home from school though.

"We are taking social distancing very seriously and we think it's important with everything that's going on," Mrs Draper said.

"We're not going anywhere and we're having no visitors.

"Col (Mr Draper) is leaving the house for groceries every now and then, and that's it.

"We just can't have ­Samuel getting sick or even a temperature. He's still so young and so little, babies can't even take Panadol for their first month."

Despite the uncertainty that's taken over everyone's lives, the Drapers have found ways to stay positive while doing their best to prevent spreading the virus.

"The at-home learning is going really really well," Mr Draper said.

"The school (St John's Lutheran School, Kingaroy) has been incredibly supportive, understanding, and helpful.

"They've given us heaps of resources and have gone to the effort of making it quite easy for the kids to adjust.

"There's a lot online and a lot that we do in their work books.

"Emily has been linking in to a video chat with the rest of her class which she loves.

"We're finding that after doing it for two weeks now we've found a day-to-day­ routine that works for the kids.

"We still get up at the same time, have breakfast, brush our teeth and get ready before sitting down for schoolwork and our morning maths ­lesson.

"The whole family is ­loving it and cherishing the time we get to spend as a ­family in Samuel's first month.

"It's been a blessing in disguise for us."

The Drapers have found by explaining why they're practising social distancing, their kids have been more understanding about missing school.

"The kids are missing their friends and teachers but ­enjoying the family time," Mrs Draper said.

"It's important to us to help them understand they are doing this to keep their new little brother safe.

"We talk to them about coronavirus a lot and mostly focus on the positive part they can play in keeping Sam safe and helping to stop the spread.

"They've really taken that message on board."

Both parents agreed they now knew more about their kids' education than ever ­before.

The Drapers asked Harrison and Emily what they liked and disliked about learning at home.

"Emily said she liked being at home and working less. But really it's just because it's very one-on-one so she's doing more just in less time," Mrs Draper said.

"She also said we're pretty good teachers. I'm not so sure about that but we're trying our best.

"Emily said she misses her friends and tuckshop but that she understands why we're doing this.

"Harrison said he misses school assembly, tuckshop, and his friends.

"He loves spending time with us, his parents, using the online platforms, and all of the extra family time."

The Drapers said they were not sure what the future held, but had hope.

"Being home with our two kids and our newborn baby was daunting to begin with but it's turned out to be lovely," Mrs Draper said.

"Everything we've been doing since this started has been more intentional. We've been playing in the backyard, playing cricket, playing just dance, and talking more."

South Burnett


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