Being as obsessed/intrigued with my children's bilingual progress as I am, and since Suzanne started school this year and Max will be beginning group childcare, this article in Multilingual Living by François Grosjean is really apropriate for my blog. If you don't know Multilingual Living, it's a great resource for bilingual parenting.
What will happen to our children’s bilingualism when they start going to school in the community language?
If one of the children’s languages is already the community/school language then it will be given an incredible burst when they start attending school.
Several reasons explain this: it will be used much more than before and its domains of use will expand; it will be used by peers and the teachers (new and important people in the children’s lives); and it will be the language in which the first steps in literacy are undertaken.
Within only a few months, it may well become the children’s dominant language which they will use increasingly and bring home with them (with their home work, friends, etc.). They may even try to use it exclusively with their parents so as not to be different from other children.
It is well known that between ages six and the early teens, many children will give the school or majority language their priority to the detriment of the weaker, home, language. Some may even refuse to speak the latter to their parents and other family members.
Hence, parents will want to develop various stratagems to reinforce the weaker language. If they can find ways of “holding on” until the teenage years, there is every chance that the weaker language will find its niche and the bilingualism of their children will be stabilized, even if they become dominant in the majority language.