OLLIE Fuller had been in kindergarten for two months when COVID-19 upended the world - and his introduction to primary school.
His mum, Emily Fuller, said while Ollie didn't know any different, he and his peers had missed out on many milestones his older brothers Harry and Benji had enjoyed.
"Birthday parties, excursions, being able to have parents come in to the school to watch them get their awards, to watch the Easter hat parades and watch Book Week, even the whole dropping off and picking up situation, trying to talk to teachers is much more difficult," Mrs Fuller said.
"But all of the kids in their age group, they're lucky, because they don't really know any different, it's just what's happened for them. I'm sure they'll be okay - kids are resilient, they kind of just get on with it."
Ollie, seven, and his Waratah Public School year one classmates will take a step closer to these experiences today, with their grade among the first to go back to classrooms as part of the state's staggered return to face-to-face learning.
"It looks like we're all heading in the right direction and we're past the worst of it, so hopefully we continue onward and upward and once they're back at school hopefully they can stay at school and this is the end of home learning for good," Mrs Fuller said.
She had been considering whether Ollie may want to wait until his older brother, year four student Benji, returns on October 25.
"I've also been a bit apprehensive because they can't be vaccinated because they're too young and because there had been an escalation of cases in the Hunter," she said.
"But the other day when he found out what the dates were he was really excited to go back, because he does miss the socialisation with his friends and his teacher. During lockdown the kids have probably only left the house a handful of times, so I think he's sick of the four walls, he's just keen to get out and get back to routine. I know he's missed being active and playing soccer and handball, all of those kinds of normal activities they used to take for granted.
"I think a lot of us have taken things for granted in the past and you don't realise how much you enjoy doing something until you can't do it anymore."
Mrs Fuller said both boys coped well with remote learning and were able to manage most of their schoolwork independently. Both of their parents work full-time.
She said their teachers used Google Classroom and the students completed most of their tasks online.
"The first period of home schooling back in 2020 was really difficult because at that point in time Ollie couldn't really read or write," she said.
"I was really glad that was a shorter stint and I'm glad the longer stint we've had just recently is a year later, when he can read and write. It's made it much easier because he can read the work that's been assigned."
Mrs Fuller said it was important to keep this unusual period of time in perspective.
"Everyone has done the best they can with home schooling and I'm not too concerned about them not being able to catch up because they're all going to be in the same boat, so things like the curriculum are going to have to be moderated," she said.
"I haven't put too much pressure on them to be honest. I think it's been a really trying time for everybody, if they've attempted everything as best they can, that's enough for me."
The family revived one of their pre-lockdown traditions on Sunday, with lunch at The Grain Store followed by a walk around the beach and an ice-cream.
"It's starting to feel a little bit like life used to be."
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