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.
It is amazing the difference in effort you will get from worksheet to worksheet. Granted the amount of effort may vary immensely from year to year depending on the group of students you have. However for the most part, when a worksheet is needed to help drill down a procedure, standard, or lesson, its effectiveness can and will vary. Therefore it is our job as the teacher to make sure that when we need to utilize a worksheet, we provide the students with one that is as inspiring as can be. Times are different these days. Kids are growing up in a world of microwaves, fast food chains, Nintendo, Wifi, iPads, along with a ton of other technical marvels. When I was growing up we didn't have home computers let alone PlayStation to entertain ourselves. Handheld camcorders were barely coming to the retail market by the time I was in 8th grade, but still a long ways away from the YouTube and Facebook arena we now see today. Times were extremely different back then and so was school.