Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew
For many students, the court system of our government can be very intimidating. Images of judges in black robes and lawyers yelling either at each other or at the witness on the stand flood our television stations. While this makes for good television drama, it doesn't really allow students to see how the system actually works. For the last few weeks, the kids have been learning how the judicial branch of our government works using the Homeschool Court Student Worktext from Homeschool Court.
We were given the digital download version of the curriculum. This included 8 different files for the course. The 165 page Teacher's Manual and the 108 page Student Worktext comprise the main portion of the course. Then students are given the option of one of three different mock trials to prepare for. A Student Case Summary and Teacher's Case Summary are given for each of these three trials. (I will discuss these in a few moments).
The Teacher's Manual and the Student workbook cover the actual textwork for the course. The text includes 9 chapters, with the first 7 each focusing on a different aspect of the Judicial system.
Chapter 1: The Basics
Chapter 2: A Biblical View of the Law
Chapter 3: Who's Who in the Court System?
Chapter 4: Our Judicial System
Chapter 5: Types of Cases
Chapter 6: Steps in a Trial of an Appellate Case
Chapter 7: Persuasive Arguments
The final two chapters focuses on preparing for the mock trials and also contains a grading rubrics as well as a certificate of completion.
This curriculum is designed for grade 4-8 and can be used with high school students using the optional High School Supplemental material. When used with the supplemental material, high school students can earn 1/2 course credit (with 60 hours of study).
Depending on the age and learning level of your student, there are two suggested formats for Homeschool Court (although the curriculum can be easily adapted to fit any classroom situation). Option 1 suggests 9-11 weekly sessions which allow for 1 week for each chapter of the workbook, followed by 1-3 weeks dedicated to research and prep for one of the mock trial session. For younger students or those who need more time, Option 2 suggests 17-19 weeks to complete the course, with 2 weeks dedicated to each of the 7 chapters, followed by the 1-3 weeks for prepping for the mock trial.
We took a slower approach to using this material so that Garrett could keep up and also because we are currently in an extremely stressful season with packing and moving. We found option 2 to be an easy fit into our current schedule, allowing for several shorter lessons per chapter rather than trying to fit the entire chapter into our week. This means we have not yet gotten to the mock trial portion of the course, but instead have focused on the understanding of the material being presented.
|Example of text material in the Student Workbook
The material has been very informative, interesting, and written in a style that is easy to understand - I do believe the kids have been learning alot from the material. I also really liked the Christian view of this curriculum, such as how many of the laws that we have today are based upon the laws given to us by God to Moses in the Ten Commandments, which bought the Bible into thought for the kids. We have also been enjoying the "Dig Deeper" questions at the end of each chapter, and while at the time we are not writing papers because we're in moving mode, we have been using them as discussion questions.
|Dig Deeper Discussion Questions
Another thing I really liked is that the student text and activities are also included in the Teachers Guide, so that I didn't have to have copies of both to refer to what the kids were seeing in their packet. This made it super easy to cover the chapter together. If Ashleigh was asking about Question #5 on a particular page, I had it in front of me and could easily read the question and help her understand what was being asked without her having to bring her worksheet to me. The student workbook text is shaded in grey in the teachers manual, making it simple to see what the kids were seeing.
|Teacher's Guide showing an Activity from the Student Workbook
The only slight hickup we had was that one of the hyperlinked resources that we were asked to download for Chapter 1 didn't work at the time we were on chapter 1. This wasn't actually a problem with the curriculum but instead was a problem on the website (which was the Court for the State of Washington). I've noticed that since then, the link was fixed, so this shouldn't be an issue for others.
While we have not gotten to the Mock Trials yet, I have looked them over ahead of time. We were given three different trials that the kids will be able to choose from when they get to that portion of the course: Dog Bite at the Dog Show, Forging Mama's Signature, and School Prayer (Forging Mama's Signature is a case involving a contested will). Each of these mock trials has both a student case summary as well as a Teacher's guide. These case guides include all the evidence that the students will need in order to help prepare for a mock trail, including witness statements, medical records, penal codes that would be used in the case, ect. The students would then use this information to prepare their case to the jury (the instructor).
|Case Summary for the Mock Trial "Dog Bite at the Dog Show"
I have a feeling this is something we are going to revisit, most liking upon purchasing the High School supplement later down the road. I think this is a great resource for helping students understand how the judicial system works.
For more information, be sure to visit the Homeschool Court website. You can also find them on the following social media platforms:
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