Legal Homework Rights: What’s the Limit on Homework?

Hi, I just read your article Titled “Can You ‘Opt Out’ of Homework?” (Click HERE for the original article.) I enjoyed the article but I guess I need a more concrete answer to the question of my legal homework rights: CAN I LEGALLY OPT OUT OF HOMEWORK FOR MY CHILD?
– Dawn, SOAR® Parent

The answer is a resounding, Yes!

legal homework rights

You have legal rights to put limits on your child’s homework time.

When homework begins to erode family relationships and/or increases the students anxiety, its time to make modifications. First, try communicating and working collaboratively with teachers and administrators.  If that doesn’t work, then you do have legal homework rights…

Legal Homework Rights

You absolutely do have legal rights to put reasonable limits on your child’s homework time. The legal tool you want to use is called a 504. For a link that provides a quick overview to the 504 law, click HERE.

504: The Legal Homework Rights Tool

Basically, the 504 law refers to legal homework rights (known as “accommodations”) that must be made for a child’s “impairment.” As you’ll read, “impairments” are defined very loosely throughout the law, and this is done purposely to accommodate all students’ various needs. If your child has a diagnosis of ADHD, Dyslexia, etc. that will help, but it’s not necessary.

I have seen the 504 law used throughout my career as an educator for students and families exercising their legal homework rights.  I have also used it with my own children to get schools to accommodate what I felt was appropriate.

The 504 Process

The actual 504 process includes paperwork and a series of meetings. The meetings typically include a school counselor, a teacher, an administrator, and you and your child. In the meeting, all of your concerns will be documented and specific actions or remedies (like limiting homework) will be recorded. This document becomes a legally binding contract that your child’s teacher and administrator are required to uphold.

Legal Homework Rights:
What’s a Reasonable Amount of Time for Homework?

So, what is a reasonable recommendation regarding time spent on homework?

We support the “10 Minute Rule.”  That’s a maximum of 10 minutes times the grade-level of the child. So, 10-minute max for 1st grade, 20-minute max for 2nd grade, up to 120-minute max for 12th grade.

The “10-minute rule” is a great accommodation for a 504, because it is set to increase the limit on homework time as the child progresses through school. We’re not talking about eliminating homework just to create an easy path for our children.  Parents that have significant battles over homework, that can easily last an hour or more, understand that homework reaches a point where it is not productive.

Too much homework is destructive to motivation, self-esteem, and to family relationships. So, don’t be afraid to exercise your legal rights. This is the point where we want to pursue our legal homework rights.

In addition to pursuing 504 accommodations, you may want to give your students better skills to handle the demands of school.  To learn more about the SOAR® Parent Products, click HERE.


Brian Winter, M.Ed.

Co-Author, SOAR Social-Emotional Learning Skills

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