Frequently Asked Questions
What is a mock trial?
A mock trial is simply a pretend trial. After learning basic information about the U.S. judicial system, a young person will participate in a trial in which he/she will act as the judge, attorney, witness, bailiff and/or member of the jury.
Why should my child participate in a mock trial class?
There are many benefits to participating in a mock trial class. There are the obvious benefits of learning about the American legal system and specific case information. With the Homeschool Court curriculum, students will learn the basics of the judicial system (including vocabulary, participants in the court system and about different courts), types of cases and the steps in a trial, and how to argue persuasively. Students will gain knowledge that will help them become better, more informed citizens. Because Homeschool Court is a Christian curriculum, students will also learn about the influence of Biblical principles and history on our country’s legal system, and how a Biblical worldview can impact a mock trial.
There are also many less obvious benefits to participating in a mock trial class. Students will use and improve their skills in reading comprehension, writing, debate and logic. They can gain or improve public speaking skills and learn to work as a team for a common purpose.
The Teacher Manual includes a Certificate of Completion that can be duplicated for all students. If your state requires any oversight of homeschoolers, such as requiring outside evaluations or portfolios, the certificate, along with any writing the student completed, makes a nice addition.
Exactly what do I need to teach a Homeschool Court mock trial class?
To effectively teach a Homeschool Court mock trial class, each student will need:
the Student Worktext (and High School supplement if desired)
a Student case summary
The teacher will need:
the Teacher Manual
a Teacher case summary
How does the Teacher Manual differ from the Student Worktext?
The Teacher Manual includes everything that is in the Student Worktext (in grayscale, so the Teacher knows what pages the student will be on during discussions or when giving an assignment). The Teacher Manual includes all answers to student worksheets. In addition, teaching tips are included—such as ideas for discussion topics or how to present a certain concept with a game.
I’m nervous about teaching this class because I’m not a lawyer. Is there any special help for me?
The Homeschool Court curriculum is designed for anyone to teach the class! In both the Teacher Manual and the Teacher Case Summaries, you are given help to effectively lead discussions and guide your students when they are preparing for their mock trial. You do not need any special background, because the curriculum was written by a lawyer and presented for anyone to be able to teach the subject. In addition, Homeschool Court is always here to help in any way. We want your experience to be a blessing to all participants, including the teacher. So always feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
My child is not “the lawyer type.” Why should he/she participate?
There are many different roles in a mock trial. In addition to attorney roles, a student can participate as a witness (answering a few questions), a judge or justice (deciding the case or simply maintaining order) or a bailiff (who has a couple of pre-scripted lines). Even if a student does not enjoy being vocal, students are encouraged to work as a team, deciding on a case strategy and working together to prepare opening and closing arguments and witness questions. Each student has an important role to play!
My child is in high school. Is this the right curriculum for him/her?
The Student Worktext is designed for grades 4-8, but much of the information taught will be new material for high school students. However, in addition, there are enrichment activities at the end of each chapter (called “Digging Deeper”) that can add additional learning for high school students. For example, at the end of the first chapter, which introduces students to the legal system and some of its vocabulary, there are four activities suggested for students (whether high school students or interested students in grades 4-8) that can extend learning. One suggested activity is for students to write their own cases and present them to their classes to see what the outcomes are.
In addition, there is a High School Supplement available for an additional cost. This supplement provides additional content for high school students. For example, Chapter 3 teaches about the various roles in the court system and goes into some detail about different types of witnesses. In the High School Supplement, students are taught about voir dire, which is the process of questioning potential jury members to see if they are fit to serve on a jury. This supplement is particularly helpful if you are trying to provide a year-long class.