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.
I believe in the importance of mathematics in our daily lives and it is critical that we nurture our kids with a proper math education. Mathematics involves pattern and structure; it's all about logic and calculation. Understanding of these math concepts are also needed in understanding science and technology. Learning math is quite difficult for most kids. As a matter of fact, it causes stress and anxiety to parents. How much stress our kids go through?