Basic operations are the building blocks and rules of math. They are like learning the rules of the road in Driver's Ed. You will be expected to know these basics down cold. We'll make sure that you do.
Pre-algebra is the math that will help guide you through the rest of your life, when shopping, watching sports, managing a budget, and just chillin'. Honestly, this math will probably be more essential to your everyday life than calculus, so drink it up and let it soak in.