Today was "Meet the Teacher" and my 5 year old daughter has been placed in a bilingual kindergarten class. My husband speaks Spanish and I speak English. I was happy, but then I started asking questions and found out all the work and tests are done in Spanish and she will only teach in English 2 days a week. I am concerned because I do not want my daughter to not be able to keep up. The teacher said she will help her, but I want her to be able to read and write words in English too, and I do not think this is going to happen in a Spanish focused classroom. She understands Spanish, but not enough to be in all Spanish class. I want her to know both languages, but I am concerned. My husband does not understand my concerns and thinks I am overreacting. Please help me and give advice.
If there's one thing you should be worried about it's that your daughter is put in such a class and you were apparently not even aware of it... I find it really strange.
But learning a second language is best done when you're young. Living in a bilingual country (Belgium), this is actually the direction towards a lot of schools/parents are moving: bilingual classes as soon as possible. Being able to speak both languages at home is also an asset from where I see it...
Of course when learning writing/reading, there will always be one of the languages that will come first, but she can catch on the other later on. Most people I know that were raised in a bilingual environment are literate in both languages.
I don't think she'll have a problem. Our oldest was barely functional in French when he started school. This year will be his third year at the same (French, not even bilingual) school, and he's mostly fluent in both (still a bit better in English, but not by much). You'll be surprised by how quickly she absorbs it.
As a side note, now's a really good time for you to start learning Spanish, if you don't already know it. You're going to start getting lots of how-to-say (something)/what-is-this-word-in-(the other language) questions shortly when she starts trying to translate her own thoughts.
It is somewhat difficult to approach child rearing in a bilingual setting. If both parents are committed to teaching there own language to the child then there has to be a commitment from both parents to teach the children the languages.
Do not expect the school to be doing the leg work for you. You have to engage the child in these languages from a young age and not let them default to the language that they find easiest.
In this case I would advice you to make your husband speak Spanish with his children and ask the children to speak Spanish with him. The same should be done with you and the speaking of English.
Note that whatever difficulties you may face in the beginning in the end you will be giving your children a great gift. Speaking Spanish I'm sure is in itself a skill that could be greatly useful in some work situations in the US.
Furthermore what you are also doing is you are enabling your children to understand the culture that there father hails from. The old saying that you can not truly understand a people if you do not speak there language is very much true and if you see this trough your children will at the very least understand there father better.
Which would be great.
The original poster has reason to be worried.
I am a native speaker of English. My slightly younger sister is also a native speaker of English.
My third-grade class was bilingual Spanish-English. The school made sure to provide English and Math instruction that matched my abilities. I did fine. Later on, when I did study Spanish, I best learned the concepts that had been taught in the bilingual class.
My sister's second-grade class was bilingual Spanish-English. She was lost during much of the instruction, and had no way to get the English-language help she needed. She developed a fear of math. She did not make as much progress in English, history, or science as she would have in an English-language classroom.