Pre-Algebra is the name of a course that is generally taken in middle school math, although sometimes it is taught as early as third grade for gifted students. For homeschool taught students, pre-algebra can be taught anywhere from 8 years old to 17 years, depending on the child's mathematic ability.
Pre-algebra is a preparatory course designed to prepare students for the more advanced, upcoming course of algebra. Pre- algebra is crucial, as it is the foundation of all advanced high school mathematics. Without the foundation of pre- algebra, students may fall behind and fail to ever reach academic requirements needed to graduate high school.
The main focus of Pre-algebra is to teach students about numbers that falls between the basic four (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) and algebra. Pre-algebra even includes some geometry, although most schools break geometry into a separate course.