Culture and Language

Planned Language Approach (PLA): Big 5 for ALL

In order to be ready for school, young children who are dual language learners (DLLs) and those who speak English all require high-quality experiences in each of the Big 5—ALL day, EVERY day, EVERY child. The Big 5 are: Alphabet Knowledge and Early Writing; Background Knowledge; Book Knowledge and Print Concepts; Oral Language and Vocabulary; and Phonological Awareness.

You will find all the resources organized by the five key skills that lead to later school success for all children. Early education staff and families can explore any of the five skills to understand research about each area; learn how development progresses from birth to age five; learn support strategies; and see examples in different early learning settings.

Additional materials in the Big 5 for All section of the Planned Language Approach include Strategies for Parents and Families, which offers specific ways to support children’s learning in each of the five key language and literacy areas at home and in the community. Another resource is Joan Talks About the Big 5 Series, which discusses, from the perspective of a kindergartener, how each of the Big 5 skills are connected to each other. This series can be used for professional development, coaching, and peer-to-peer learning, along with the Assessment of the Big 5. It provides a list of resources to assess children’s progress in the development of the Big 5 language and literacy skills.

The Big 5 should be part of teaching every day because communication, language, and literacy are the foundation for children’s learning. Teaching the Big 5 is part of a coordinated approach for serving all children, including children who are dual language learners (DLLs). It is included as part of the Head Start Program Performance Standards related to education and child development program services under Teaching and the learning environment, 45 CFR § 1302.31.

High-quality language and literacy practices support all children’s development. In addition, some teaching practices are especially important to support the development of children who are DLLs. Children follow similar learning paths, which is why the Big 5 is important for all. Early education staff plan culturally and linguistically responsive learning experiences daily. Early education staff serve as good language models and support children’s home languages, as well as English. Home visitors provide Big 5 supports for parents to promote their child’s bilingualism. Children who are DLLs and have a disability, or a suspected delay, may need different types of supports that help them communicate effectively. They may need support in their home language, in English, in sign language, or in other ways. In a coordinated approach, education staff make appropriate modifications and adaptations to ensure full and effective participation for children with disabilities or suspected delays.

Read more about this coordinated approach for all children downloading the PDF:
Introduction to the Big 5 for All: The Big 5