As a math tutor for 15 years, I have tutored hundreds of students from all the grade levels. I found most of the students were not comfortable with mathematics. More than 80% of them said, "the mathematics is very hard." Why do most of the students find mathematics a hard subject and try to avoid it? The answer for the above question is hidden in a simple example. I always give the example of stairs to my students, and giving the same example in this article. I compare the steps of a staircase to the concepts in mathematics. As this is very hard to reach higher floors of a building without stairs (or elevators these days), same way learn higher concepts in mathematics without learning basic concepts is very hard.
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.