Keeping the tone of report cards encouraging and constructive can be a tricky enterprise. Here are some favorite words and phrases that are used by some of the top report-card writers around: experienced teachers.

Stressing the Positive

Words: thorough, caring, cooperative, growth, superior, quality, striving, seeking, attempting, admirable, consistent, persevering

Phrases: is able to, is strong in, has a good grasp of, independent learner, works hard, improved tremendously, is willing to take more risks, excels at, making good progress, does a great job with, has great potential for

Appreciating a Child's Unique Qualities

Words: energetic, creative, hard worker, risk taker, imaginative, persistent, diplomatic, innovative, cooperative, original, leader, eager, thoughtful, enthusiastic, perceptive, welcomes, problem solver

Phrases: interested in, positive attitude, interacts well with peers, thinks clearly, understands complex tasks, shows compassion, sets a standard for others, selects carefully, concentrates well, follows directions carefully, suggests new approaches, generates many original ideas, fluent reader, intrigued by, special talent for, skilled in, follows projects through to the end

Child Needs Extra Help

Words: requires, struggles, seldom, usually

Phrases: could profit by, shows a need for, finds it difficult at times to, it is helpful to, is challenged by, works best when, needs help with, I'm working with him/her to, had trouble with, making progress, seems reticent about, needs encouragement in, has a tendency to, let's find a way to solve this together

Words to be Wary of: Unable, can't, won't, always, never


This article originally appeared in Teacher magazine, published by Scholastic.