Marie Clay's Principles and Concepts of Early Writing

1. Sign Concept: Writing carries a message.

2. Message Concept: Child realizes that the messages that she/he speaks can be written down.
3. Copying Principle: Some letters, words, and word groups must be imitated or copied in a slow and laborious way to establish the first units of printing behavior.
4. Flexibility Principle: Children create a variety of new symbols by repositioning or decorating the standard forms which enables them to explore the limits within which each letter form may be varied and still retain its identity.
5. Inventory Principle: Children organize or take stock of their own learning by making lists of what they know.
6. Recurring Principle: Writing will be repeated to help establish habitual response patterns and to produce pleasant feelings of competence.
7. Generating Principle: The learner will extend his/her writing repertoire by combining or arranging elements in an inventive fashion.
8. Directional Principle: Development of the patterns of left to right and top to bottom is required.
9. Reversing the Directional Pattern: Mirror writing suggests the need to learn more about body space in relation to the book pages.
10. Contrastive Principle: Contrasts can be made between units at several levels - shapes, meanings, sounds, and word patterns.
11. Space Concept: A space is needed to signal the end of one word and another.
12. Page and Book Arrangement: The child will often use up left-over spaces with his/her left-over utterances ignoring directional principles.
13. Abbreviation Principle: Child comprehends that words are constructed out of letters that stand for fuller forms.