Today we all know that benefits of math are considerable. Math is not a subject one learns by reading the problems and solutions. American children have very little practice with multi_step problems, and very few opportunities to think their way in to and through problems that don't look like 'all the others'. With a packed curriculum and the increased emphasis on testing, our children are taught tons of procedures _ but procedures disconnected from when to use them, and why. Sustained thinking _ the key ingredient to math success _ is painfully absent in too many math classes.
There are some new materials being developed now based on what we are learning about how the brain learns. These brain_friendly materials should be an improvement over what has existed. I recently bought a book by Marcia L. Tate titled "Mathematics Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites." I highly recommend her book. She gives a great deal of information on alternative activities that are better for your child's brain development and for learning.