"Mommy, I don't like it when somebody else writes on my story."
"Mommy, [insert name of well intentioned adult] keeps on writing on my stories and I don't like it."
Or my favorite, overheard while drawing with an older cousin: "How would you feel if I wrote on your work?"
Don't get me wrong, some kids have no problem stepping aside and allowing someone to swoop in and write the words for them. I experience this often when I work in pre-k and kindergarten classrooms. I can see them, staring at me with puppy dog eyes from across the classroom. Their eyes speak to me. Come to me. I'm just a little kindergartener. Puhleeez do my writing for me… At least just sit with me and give me attention. I like it when you sit with me. Puhleeez? However, when it comes to independent writing and drawing, I know better than to lay a finger on their work. Kids are very, very, VERY smart. I know that if I give in even just one little time, then they will hope and expect for someone to swoop in every time and write or spell some words, or even draw for them. It's the same thing with zipping up jackets, or putting on boots, or wiping their noses. Consistency fosters independence--as long as your expectations for what children can do on their own is appropriate for their ages and stages.
I was so happy when I saw this come home from L.'s preschool the other day:
I have a very strong feeling that had Little L.'s teacher written this ON L.'s picture instead of separately, LittlebL. would have either A) thrown a fit, or B) said very little, dictating slowly to the teacher something like "This…is…a…tree." or C) decided not to draw with so much detail if she sensed the teacher was really looking for words on the page. I've witnessed these reactions again and again in early childhood settings.
When I confer with very young writers, I usually say something like, "Tell me all about this!" or "Tell me about your picture," or "How does your story go?" Then as they talk, I discreetly jot down notes, verbatim as much as possible. I always have a clipboard with me when I confer (see this older post about conferring notes on TWT), and I just use a piece of blank paper to take a dictation instead of a conferring form. If kids ask what I'm doing, I just tell them, "I'm just taking notes so I don't forget all this great work you're doing!"