My recent post on how to best support early literacy in bilingual children brought about a few comments on the topic of different scripts.
This is an interesting one because it adds a new dimension to literacy; a new worry about potentially confusing the child. I'm sure it is a worry we all have - whether it's between the two languages spoken, the two languages read and written, or the two scripts used.
Therefore, as a starting point, my gut feeling is that there's no difference between spoken bilingualism or written bilingualism with two scripts. Yes, it's more to learn. Yes, children will mix. Yes, children will end up being proficient in both.
When I was a young child (maybe 8 years of age - I'm not sure) I got interested in the Greek alphabet. I'm not sure where I saw it, but I saw it, and wanted to learn it. I didn't give my dad peace until he taught me the whole Greek alphabet (I can still recite it now!). Considering I only learned to read and write at 7 (which is normal in Germany), it was close to acquiring literacy. Did it confuse me? Not at all. I remember that I found it reasonably easy to learn because the script was similar in principle and shape. Many years later, when I learned Russian (which has a script based on the Greek alphabet), it helped me learn to read Russian and enabled me to skip a full term of tuition (the script is usually taught first) through a mere 2 weeks of self study.
From the anecdotal example of how I felt about these scripts, learning a second script in early childhood, like learning a second language, is an asset rather than a hinderance. So I wouldn't worry about confusion - there may be some at the start, but it'll be so worth it.
Cubling's nursery is lucky to have some speech and language support and they actively support bilingualism. Part of their early literacy development is actually showing other scripts and letting all children be creative and "write" in that script. So for Chinese New Year, they drew Chinese characters that they made up. There are also a few other bilingual children in Cubling's room, with at least 4 language pairs. The teachers have produced books with images of everyday objects and asked the parents to write the word in their language underneath. These booklets are on display for all children to see. This way, the bilingual children realise there are others like them (the realisation for Cubling has had a positive impact on her attitude towards German), they feel recognised and the monolingual children develop an interest in other languages. All of which is good, everybody wins. I think it's good practice because early literacy is not just about learning your letters, sounding out and reading - it's about the letter as a sign, the realisation that we can represent speech and use these representations in enhancing ways, and creating an awareness of literacy which will then result in a motivation to become literate.
And this can happen in as many scripts as you want I would think.