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.
As children become more confident in their math skills, give them worksheets one grade level above their current grade. Help them if necessary, but when students become successful in the upper level workbooks; their confidence will really improve. The seed will be planted early and parents can watch as it grows.
Learning math skills can be frustrating and complicated for children. In order to make things easier, schools are using new programs to help children learn math in a fun and simple way, mimicking computer games.
Use things around the house that they already know and love! : My son has a HUGE adoration for his Thomas Trains... he can tell you every single trains name, number and color. When we started working on recognizing numbers and colors, I tried to use posters, games, workbooks, etc that would help him learn to recognize them... all to no avail! One day, we were playing with his trains, and HE asked me what number one of the trains was. Bells went off in my head and I realized that I could cater his natural curiosity about his beloved trains, and still be 'teaching' him to recognize numbers at the same time!