My oldest daughter struggled in 5th grade math. Her biggest problem... her multiplications skills. When I was a child, the multiplication tables were drilled into me... commited to memory. Her 3rd grade teacher taught the multiplication facts by teaching children to skip count, to use some finger trick with the 9's, and all kinds of other tricks, everything except to just memorize them. Unfortunately, learning long division and factoring requires that you know the tables by heart. Luckily were able to take advantage of NCLB provisions and get her extra tutoring in math where her multiplication tables were redrilled into her. We take part of the blame for not realizing how the schools were shortchanging her, but we learned our lesson. Both of our 3rd graders already know their multiplication facts through to the 12's because we took an hour each day during 2nd grade to drill them into their heads. Now in 3rd grade they are both well ahead of their peers, but it took time and effort on my and their moms part. My recommendation... don't trust your kids teachers to teach the basics.