Each grade act as a step in the whole staircase to the mathematics high_rise building. Performing poor in math in any grade is like breaking some steps in the whole staircase. As broken steps make the whole staircase risky or scary to use in the future, incomplete math competencies in lower grades make math very hard in the high school. So, what it takes to be smart in mathematics? My answer is; stay focused on math in each and every level of your studies. Participate in your class math practice sessions. Ask your teacher lots of questions until you are not clear about any concept. Mathematics is a subject of solving the problems on paper by hand rather than only to read them. As in case of Social Studies taking more readings make you smart, in math practicing lots of problems and solving them by hand makes you smart. To practice mathematics, math workbooks are the good source. You learn a concept in a workbook, then in the same booklet there are more problems on the same concept for practice. Another good method to practice mathematical concepts is using math worksheets and you can print math worksheets free of charge from the web.
If you have read my article "Helping Your Child With Basic Arithmetic? Stay Away From Worksheets" then you know that I am not a fan of traditional worksheets. After writing that article, I found another credible teacher who has written many ezine articles expounding on the benefits of worksheets. I decided some clarification of position is in order. The primary problem with most math worksheets is that the problems are already written out and the child need only write the answers. For learning and practicing the basic skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, it is much more beneficial for the child to write out the entire fact and say the entire fact out loud. A child will learn a multiplication fact much faster if they are writing out 6 x 8 = 48 at the same time they are saying "six times eight is forty_eight" than if they just see 6 x 8 = ___ and only have to supply the 48. Rather than using worksheets, a better method is to use individual size white boards and have the child writing entire facts many times. Having a child writing 9 x 7 = 7 x 9 = 63 while saying "nine times seven is the same as seven times nine and is equal to sixty_three" is many times more successful than a worksheet with 9 x 7 = ___ and the student just thinks the answer once and then writes that answer on the duplicate problems.