More than two thirds of parents are not helping their children with homework as much as they would like because of a lack of confidence, a survey suggests.
The difficulty of homework often surprises parents
The Department for Education and Skills found 69% of the 2,000 adults spoken to in England would do more if they felt secure in their own knowledge.
Some 18% of parents were often taken aback by the difficulty of homework, while 2% admitted they never helped.
Skills Minister Phil Hope said adults should "brush up" on English and maths.
'Now and again'
The survey found that 93% of fathers and 97% of mothers thought parental help with homework would benefit children.
Just over half offered assistance "every day" but one in 10 only did so "now and again".
The government's Get On scheme is aimed at improving the maths and English skills of 2.25m adults by 2010.
Mr Hope said: "There are still many adults who struggle with their maths and English skills and as a result may experience difficulties in helping their children with homework.
"This doesn't have to be the case. There are hundreds of free courses up and down the country where adults can brush up their maths and English skills in a friendly, supportive environment.
"As a dad I'm fully aware of what a difference it can make to be able to help your children with their learning, so I call on all parents to think about whether they could benefit from improving their skills a little."
Government figures show 5.2m adults lack the English skills expected of a 14 year old.
Meanwhile, 14.9m have not reached the equivalent standard in maths.
In 1998, the then education secretary, David Blunkett, produced recommendations that secondary pupils in England and Wales should do about 90 minutes of homework a night.
Research published earlier this year by the Schools Health Education Unit found two-fifths of students were not doing homework every night - up from one-fifth in 1997/98.