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     The Freedom to Grow Unschool opened in the fall of 2010.  It began with nine students who met in the home of FTGU founder Teri Cole-Smith.  Teri's vision was to create a space where children could learn and teachers could teach without the bureaucratic confines of traditional school.  FTGU has been changing lives since then, providing a community for families in Athens seeking a fundamentally different approach to education for their children.

     The Freedom to Grow Unschool is not a school - legally or ideologically.  Each of our students is registered as a homeschooler with the state.  This means that rather than following a rigid, nationally mandated curriculum and spending time preparing for standardized tests, we are free to pursue deeper learning in ways that best fit each individual child.

     FTGU is a place where organic learning happens.  We do not coerce children into learning with external motivators like grades or gold stars, nor do we patronize them by spoonfeeding them knowledge about the world. At FTGU, we strive to foster an environment where kids are free to question, explore, and discover for themselves. 


What makes FTGU different from traditional school?

Democratic decision making and student choice
Small class size, individual attention
Family involvement
Teaching and learning in a multi-age setting
Daily outdoor exploration and play
Learning through the integration of all subject areas
Non-competitive, authentic assessment (no tests, homework, or grades)
Project and theme-based curriculum featuring hands-on learning and frequent field trips
 Challenging traditional representations of people and history