Joe's birthday was a couple of weeks ago. After dinner we celebrated with some cake and ice cream. When we finished it was time to start getting the kids ready for bed. Kayla was lingering at the kitchen table with a pen and paper. Joe glanced over her should to see what she was doing and saw she had written the letter "H". He then went about finishing cleaning up the kitchen.
A few minutes later Kayla proudly brought him this piece of paper. She had obviously attempted to write, "Happy birthday Dad."
To appreciate the significance of this, the shock as Joe and I stared at this, the excitement as we kept asking Kayla, "You wrote this?! All by yourself? You didn't ask for any help?!" You have to understand how Kayla usually writes things when left to her own devices.
She loves to have a piece of paper and something to write with. She would write notes or lists all day long. She can write all the letters of the alphabet, she can write words, she can fill in the blanks when going over her study guides from school, she can write her spelling words ... but on her own ... she simply won't write.
Her writing becomes just lines and scribbles. Nothing legible at all. The most that she will write on her own are the words Kayla, Lucas, Mom, Dad and very rarely something like cat or dog or another small sight word that she knows. Also rare, but has happened on occasion, she'll ask us how to spell something.
I would be happy if she just made random letters all over the page in an attempt to write actual words, and we have encouraged/asked her to do so while she's doing her so-called writing, but she refuses. 98% of the time she simply won't attempt to write any other real words, sounding them out, or or just writing letters to form words.
So when Joe showed me this I kept asking him if he just spelled out the letters for her. He insisted he didn't. He didn't know what she was doing at the table, he figured it was her usual scribbling. I didn't said I didn't even know she could spell 'happy' by herself.
As I was talking with her that night at bedtime she seemed to be telling me that she wrote it at school with Mr S, her aide in the classroom. So then I thought it came out of her backpack. But she told me consistently that she wrote it at school AND at home. And Joe said he saw her write the "H" on the paper at the kitchen table.
I emailed her teacher and she didn't know if the aide had worked on this with Kayla, but did say Kayla seemed to mention all day long that it was her dad's birthday so it's possible Mr S was writing that with her.
Even if she didn't completely do this on her own with no guidance ... she did still take what she did at school, retained that info, and on her own at home without asking for help, attempted to recreate writing Happy Birthday Dad. While she didn't quite get "birthday" she was at least in the ball park as the letters she did write down are in the word birthday; they weren't completely random letters.
She didn't just write scribbles and lines on the paper and tell Joe she wrote Happy Birthday. She put some effort in to making real words. She wrote something unprompted by us.
For us, this was huge.