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.
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!
While the newer method does require computer access for every child, most schools now have that capability. As children do more hands-on learning on computers and less in books, these programs are capable of reaching them on a level they can understand.
Parents can assist with developing a lot of the fundamental skills needed for children to succeed in math when they attend school. Parents can do things that will support the schools and hopefully the schools will do the rest.