Homework used to be something that kids just did (though not always without protest). Though, when I was a kid (cue "back in my day" old lady voice), I don't remember having much of it, at least until I was out of elementary school. In fact, I don't really remember having much homework at all until I reached the fourth grade. My parents were lucky in that I was a good student and rarely, if ever needed help with my homework (except in German, and having a mom who's from there helps).
These days, though, a lot of parents are far more involved in their kid's schooling than their parents were. Most kids are read to before they're even out of the womb. There are television shows that teach kids that counting is fun. And, more because they have to than that they want to, they sit down and help their kids with their homework.