When a child learns to relate math to everyday questions, he will be great at it from the simplest addition all the way to trigonometry. To convert percentages, decimals and fractions is thus one essential skill.
As a middle-school math teacher, I have seen many students who do understand abstract concepts, and even enjoy learning about things like Pi and the Pythagorean Theorem, but who appear to be unable to do so due to a weak grasp of math fundamentals.
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.
How much money do I have left if I buy a soda? By the end of the week, how much of my daily allowance will I be able to save if I don't?