Not many kids are sad to call in sick for school but when Fran Crowe's three grandchildren came down with a cough last week she was taken aback by their reaction.
It turned out the tears were reserved for their Tuesday afternoon learning club, rather than regular class.
Once a week after school, about two dozen students from disadvantaged backgrounds meet at Tuggeranong and Gungahlin libraries for one-on-one tutoring.
"We never miss it," Ms Crowe said. "[Our] youngest Mykayla has been asking forever if she could come too and she's finally old enough this year."
The club is run by The Smith Family and a small team of volunterrs, including Tim Friedrich, a former teacher who has been helping Ms Crowe's grandson Aidan lift his game in maths.
Game being the operative word - Aiden reveals he's designing his own, with the help of Mr Friedrich, while Emmelynn, who is in year 4, is busy writing a play.
The Smith Family has sponsored all three of the children since 2015, providing much-needed funding for things like books, school uniforms and camps.
"Without it, the kids would miss out," Ms Crowe said.
One in seven Australian children live below the poverty line, and the charity already sponsors more than 1000 kids in Canberra.
That number is growing all the time, says Lisa Gibbons of the Smith Family.
The charity needs to raise $162,000 by the end of the month to support an extra 400 Canberra children in need this year.
Research shows students from disadvantaged backgrounds often face barriers in their learning as well, with one in three falling behind in key areas like literacy and numeracy.
One of the biggest barriers, Mr Friedrich said, was not believing they could learn in the first place.
"A lot of these kids haven't had a good time in school and it becomes a bit self-fulfilling," he said.
"One of [my students], he'd push the work away from him at the start but we ended up reading a book the whole way through. For him it was the first book he'd ever read."
The latest Smith Family survey found eighty-seven per cent of students reported Learning Club had helped them improve at school, but Ms Gibbons said the program needed volunteers to stay afloat.
When two math tutors moved on a few months back, the Tuggeranong learning club was forced to stop tutoring high school students.
"We hope we can start that up again," Ms Gibbons said.
"To have that one-on-one attention from an adult can be everything."