I am fascinated by court cases and evidence and investigation. TV shows like Blue Bloods, Law and Order, and Matlock have always been very appealing to me. Perhaps because I have a strong sense of seeing fair justice served, or maybe because I am simply in awe of how attorneys can draw out the truth (or, in some cases, manipulate evidence to cast doubt).
Whatever the reason, when we were given the opportunity to delve into Homeschool Court together as a family, I was thrilled . . . but also a little apprehensive. I wasn’t confident that I would be able to teach such a complicated subject.
The Student Worktext is the main text of the course. It is separated into nine modules that cover several topics relative to the law. Students will learn:
- basic legal vocabulary and reasons why we have laws
- the Biblical foundation of our legal system
- the difference between state and federal courts, trial and appellate courts, and civil and criminal courts
- different types of cases
- how to craft witness questions, opening and closing statements, and persuasive arguments
- how to work as a team to prepare for the mock trial
The Teacher’s Manual is, in my opinion, the most amazing part of this program. It’s written as if the author is standing with you, walking you through teaching the course at every step. You don’t have to be a lawyer to teach your children about our legal system! The Teacher’s Manual also lays out any additional materials you may need for the course, how to schedule classes (if you are teaching a group), field trip ideas, and how to count the course as high school credit. She even gives ideas of where to find students to fill a class and explains how to adapt the program to fit small or large groups, how to work with shy students and special needs students. After reading through the Teacher’s Manual, I was very encouraged and confident that I could teach this course.
While Homeschool Court is written for grades 4–8, you can purchase a separate High School Supplement that goes into greater detail about the content covered in the main Student Textbook. There are additional reading and writing opportunities as well as real-world applications that invite students to really dig deeper into the topics for better understanding.
The Case Summaries provide all of the meat for the actual mock trials. Everything is laid out in enough detail to make setting up the mock trial easy, but there is also plenty of room for students to be creative and add their own fun as well. I loved that the Case Summaries covered a variety of cases, including a Supreme Court Case and a Civil Trial.
What We Thought
In the interest of complete transparency, I was WAY more excited about this course than my kids were! At first, I was a little disappointed. I really wanted to dig into this course with my kids as a test run for possibly teaching it at our co-op, but they were just not at all interested. They are theater kids, not wanna be lawyers. Then it dawned on me . . . Treat it like a play!!
Unfortunately, the idea didn’t dawn on me until well into the review period, so we haven’t completed our mock trial yet. We will continue working through the course, even pulling Daddy into some of the mock trial roles. It will be a challenge with just four people, but I think we can do it. They are both talented actors! 😀
Overall, I really like this curriculum. It is effortless to use and seems to have a plan for most contingencies that one would encounter in a group of children. It’s easy to tell that the author has had extensive time in both the courtroom and the classroom and has translated that into an immersive experience for homeschool students.
I also love that it can be used by anyone. You do not have to be part of a large group to use the curriculum. The author has provided options for home use as well as group use.