What foundational skills should I focus on to prepare students for success in algebra?

Students need to understand the foundational principles of algebra that include properties for each of the operations and the idea of substitution in variables. Order of operations is also a pivotal skill for Algebra. The key to understanding is knowing that algebra involves equivalencies. Because this can often be very abstract for most upper elementary students, providing as much context as possible makes it easier. I HIGHLY recommend https://borenson.com/product/the-hands-on-equations-learning-system/

It is well worth the investment to purchase this kit for your students to teach the parts of an equation and how to solve algebraic expressions.

You’ve nailed the essential foundational skills for algebra, emphasizing the importance of understanding properties, substitution, and order of operations. Highlighting the concept of equivalencies is crucial for students as they transition from concrete to abstract thinking. Providing context and using hands-on tools like the Hands-On Equations Learning System can make these abstract concepts more accessible and engaging. It sounds like a valuable resource that could significantly enhance students' grasp of algebraic principles. Thanks for sharing this recommendation!

Hands-on equations are amazing! When I taught Gifted and Talented, we used these, but I also used them when I taught 5th grade. I think that it starts younger than that though and something small but foundational that I do with kids as young as first grade is missing addend problems. 7 + ___ = 9. This gets them thinking about what number goes in the blank which is the very basic premise of algebra!