Brian McCarthy

Rose and Thorn: reviewing the day spent at home with your child

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Whenever I run a workshop of any kind - training, innovation, leadership - we always end the day by doing what's called a "Red Thread Review". I'm sure you've had the experience of this yourself many times, and if you haven't, please do one next time you run a workshop or meeting. But it's also something we can easily do with our kids at the end of the day (stuck inside because of the Corona Virus!). Just don't call it a "Red Thread Review"! - instead, I call it the "Rose and Thorn".

In workshops, a Red Thread Review takes a minimum of 15 minutes and can take up to 40 minutes if you want. It has three stages:

Recreate the day (minimum 4 minutes).

At the end of the workshop, grab a flip chart or whiteboard and tell the participants that, with their help, you are going to write down in order all the things we did today. What was the first thing we did in the morning, and after that? and after that? You will be amazed at how much they forget. Don't worry, it's hopefully not because some parts of your sessions were boring, it usually because their experience of the day has been so intense that they forget the flow. You remember it easily because you designed it and spent weeks preparing it, they've only experienced it once.

Write down key learnings (minimum 3 minutes)

Now that they have a clearer picture of the day, ask them to write down 3-5 key takeaways/ learnings/ commitments from the workshop. Don't just ask them to think of them, they should write them down. Writing makes people think more clearly, and the act of writing something down helps us remember better. Also, if you've asked for commitments for the future, writing something down is more of a commitment then just thinking.

Share with Partner (minimum 3 minutes)

Next, they should share with a partner the things they've just written down. If you're short on time, tell them to read exactly what've they've written, no expounding or explaining. To choose the partner, they can turn to the person sitting beside them, or ask them to stand up and share with someone they haven't had a chance to speak with during the day. 

Share with Everyone (minimum 3 minutes)

Finally, you can ask everyone (if the group is small) or volunteers to share with you and the rest of the class one of the things they wrote down. If you ran a training workshop, you could introduce this part as follows, "now can you please share one thing that you plan to do differently in the future based on what you learned today?."

How does this work with kids?

With your child, the steps are very similar. Tell them that you are going to play a game called the rose and the thorn. The rose is the best part of the day (there can be numerous roses - and hopefully there are!) and the thorn is the worst part of the day (there can also be more than one).

But before we talk about our roses and thorns, first we have to recreate the day. What did you do after you woke up? after breakfast? Etc. etc.

Everyone should do it - parents and children. It is a great way to find out what really impacted your child during the day, and it is also a great moment for you to do some self-reflection and share it.

I hope you are enjoying these posts. These days, as I am at home with my daughter during the state of emergency in Spain, I have been reflecting on how some of the techniques we use at work to create better experiences for groups can also be used to make life a little less boring for us during these weeks we're stuck at home.