Usually I have a rule that I go by: First praise, then pick things to improve. I do it for myself and I do it for my kids (the two that are mine and the ones that I teach and coach). I've never really talked about this rule with anyone, but my son already knows it because it's what we do with school, sports, and whatever else we're learning/working on. Sometime's he gets frustrated with it because he just wants to have fun - but really, he likes getting better, so he always seems to be okay with it.
When my son brought home his first report card (from first tri-mester) from first grade in November, we had some nice things to praise, and we had a few things we figured he could improve upon. Basically, we decided that he should be getting S+ and O on everything that pertained, and 3 or 3+ on all skills marked by number (1-4). Many of his first report marks were in this range, but a few fell below - at S or 2/2+.
He has worked on a number of things since then, but the end of the second tri-mester quickly jumped on us. So, it was this past Wednesday, that he brought home his second report card (from second tri-mester) from first grade.
As we started to look over it, of course, there was first praise, as we noticed that some of his 3's had gone up to 3+ and a few of his S's had gone up to S+. Also of note was his Math scores - which were 4's and O's. My chest started to bow out (with just a little pride) as I recalled his teacher saying that they really didn't give out 4's (unless someone is way above grade level). And we kept looking the report card over. We decided to pick out three things to improve upon - just as we had in November. So we started back at the beginning of the report card and picked one thing out, then another ... then ... - well, then it was hard to pick out a third.
After further review, this papa couldn't be more proud. Seriously - even me - most critical and in need of something, anything, to improve upon - could only pick out two REAL things to ask him to improve. For gosh sakes - he had all 3+ and S+ or O's. What more can a parent ask? So, for our third improvement: "Keep It Up! We're proud of you!"