I have observed teachers who really challenge their students to achieve higher order thinking These teachers take their students as early as the Second Grade and teach them how to add, subtract, multiply and divide using only their bran. We call this Mental Math. When I observed a Second Grade Class that had their students mentally answering math computation questions, I put my own son in that class. Shortly after being enrolled, He, too, learned how to do Mental Math. From that point on, math was my son's best subject. Teachers can really make a difference and parents can help affect change.
In addition to good teachers and involved parents, children should be involved in extracurricular activities that support math. In the state of Michigan, students can join a club at their school that plays a game called Academic Games. This form of gaming is challenging for children. It helps them to develop their academic skills as well as their math skills. Children can start playing these games as early as the second grade. This form of gaming will teach children how to play the game of Equations, a form of Algebra, at the age of seven. These skills are called Higher Order Thinking Skills.
Computer based math practice problems are helpful in training children how to use math skills in real life while still using tried and true methods of testing. As with the old-school techniques, modern math programs also use multiple choice, fill in the blank and true or false questions to quiz students.
In addition to mental math activities, children should be given grade level mathematics workbooks to strengthen their math skills. Parents should have these books and other subject content books at home for additional practice and homework. These can be purchased from bookstores, teacher supply stores and multiple-purpose department stores where school or office supplies are sold.